State News Roundup

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New York students score better on standardized tests in districts where teachers have more time for preparation and more opportunities for in-service training, and in districts with smaller enrollments and higher average property wealth, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by the Coalition for School Finance Reform, which favors an increase in state support for education, divides school districts into five groups based on test results. Districts in the top group showed an average expenditure per student of $6,368 and an average enrollment of 1,542 students, compared with $4,914 and 6,921 students, respectively, for the bottom group.

Figures for the middle three groups fluctuated, however.

"Sharp differences may not exist in all areas, but the general pattern is one of districts with the best test scores doing more for their students than other districts," the report states.

The study was a follow-up to a previous report that showed a link between the size and location of school districts and the range of programs offered to students. It was based on a random survey of 197 districts; 47 percent responded.

Copies of the report are available from: R.M. Grebe, 206 Varian Road, Peekskill, N.Y., 10566.

The Washington Supreme Court has ruled 6 to 3 that the state's teacher-contract law does not apply to "extra duty," such as coaching and administrative tasks.

Under the "continuing-contract law," school officials must follow a set of due-process procedures if they dismiss a teacher.

In the majority opinion issued Sept. 12, the court said the statute ''was intended to protect the certificated employees' basic school-year contracts." Supplemental contracts between teachers and school districts spelling out a teacher's extra-duty work are subject to modification or nonrenewal without having to comply with the continuing-contract law, the court ruled.

The suit was filed jointly by the Washington Education Association and the Issaquah Education Association against Issaquah school officials in 1983. Officials of the wea said last week that teachers must now negotiate locally with school officials to include in their supplemental contracts language extending the due-process requirements of the law to extra duty.

Concerned about the growing internationalization of the economy and the decline of traditional Southern industries, the governors of the Southern states voted at their meeting in Miami this month to estab-lish a clearinghouse on international education.

The clearinghouse, which will be maintained by the Southern Governors' Association, will help the governors share information about programs ranging from vocational training on how to read shipping schedules to graduate programs in international business, said Marta Goldsmith, deputy director of the sga It will also provide information about cultural exchange and scholarship programs and model courses in geography and foreign languages.

"I think the governors' intent is to look at ways that they can change the schools to gear students to operate in a global community," Ms. Goldsmith said. "They feel there is a need on a regionwide basis to build on the international-education programs that exist, and they've learned that one of the best ways is to share ideas and learn from each other."

Ms. Goldsmith said the sga will ask the business community to support the clearinghouse and help develop its agenda.

Hoping to improve Kentucky's last-place standing among the states in the percentage of adult residents over 25 with high-school diplomas, Superintendent of Public Instruction Alice McDonald has appointed a task force charged with expanding the program for adults seeking high-school equivalency degrees.

The 26-member task force of educators and business leaders will as-sist the department of education in developing a plan to attract more adults into the General Educational Development testing, or ged, program.

In 1984, 12,176 people in Kentucky earned a ged degree. Ms. McDonald wants to increase that number by 10 percent, according to Frances R. Salyers, a public-affairs coordinator for the department.

About 47 percent of Kentuckians over age 25, or 978,659 people, do not have high-school diplomas. Close to 1.3 million Kentuckians age 16 and over are officially out of school and lack a degree.

ged certificates now represent 20 percent of all high-school credentials issued in the state each year.

Ms. McDonald has also asked the task force to recommend ways to develop a better-educated workforce in the state and to teach adults the basic skills required for training and retraining.

The Georgia Board of Education this month adopted a policy mandating that teachers' salaries be "market-sensitive" and competitive with those of other professions.

The policy, required under the state's education-reform act, goes into effect Oct. 1.

It stipulates that the minimum salaries for beginning teachers with a bachelor's degree must be adjusted to ensure that they are comparable to entry-level salaries earned in other professions by holders of ba degrees from the University of Georgia.

The state board of regents is responsible for collecting data to make such comparisons possible.

The minimum salary for beginning teachers in Georgia is now $16,000. Last month, the board voted to recommend a $16,500 starting salary for teachers in the 1986-87 school year.

That figure could be adjusted in the Governor's budget request to the legislature, once data from the board of regents are available, according to Eleanor K. Gilmer, a spokesman for the department of education.

Last year, Gov. Joe Frank Harris's education-review commission cited the low salary of the state's teachers as "the single most important reason for Georgia's inability to attract and retain educators."

The discovery of polychlorinated biphenyls, or pcb's, leaking from fluorescent light fixtures in three Salem, Ore., public schools has led state education officials to warn all school districts to check their overhead lighting for similar leaks.

Officials closed one elementary school Sept. 10-12 to clean up pcb's that had leaked from an overhead fixture onto a rug in a classroom, according to Skip J. Liebertz, a spokes-man for the Salem-Keizer Public Schools.

After inspecting other schools in the district, officials also closed off a shop in a middle school and a classroom in a second elementary school for one day to clean up two other pcb leaks.

The chemical is a suspected carcinogen, and the leaks became "a real emotional issue" for school staff, students, and parents, Mr. Liebertz said.

He said, however, that the threat of physical danger to school staff and students was "very, very minor."

pcb's are contained in the ballast systems of fluorescent lighting fixtures installed before 1978, according to Mr. Liebertz.

The percentage of students dropping out of school in South Carolina has decreased over the past six years, according to new figures from the state department of education.

Last year, 9,659 students quit school, or about 1.7 percent of the total enrollment. By comparison, 10,784 students, or 1.9 percent, dropped out in 1983-84; 10,550 students, or 1.8 percent, in 1982-83; and 13,700 students, or 2.3 percent, in 1979-80.

The state's highest dropout rates occurred in grades 10 and 11, with 5.2 percent of those students leaving school last year. The department did not report dropout rates by race or socioeconomic status.

Raymond Morton, a spokesman for the department, attributed the decline in part to the increased use of in-school suspensions, which allow disruptive students to remain in school and not fall behind in their classwork.

Last year, 78 of 92 school districts in the state reported some form of in-school suspension.

Attendance rates among students in South Carolina also increased last year, with 8,290 more students in school on an average day than in 1983-84.

Vol. 05, Issue 04

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