States News Roundup
The proposal, which must be approved in two subsequent meetings to become binding, calls for students to be tested in reading, writing, mathematics, and reasoning at the 3rd- and 5th-grade levels beginning in the spring of 1987, according to Jan Ryan Coulton, assistant superintendent for communications and government relations. The state would begin testing the basic skills of all 8th graders in 1988.
The high-school exit test would be offered up to four times to 10th- and 11th-grade students, beginning in the fall of 1987.
Oregon currently does not require any skills assessments.
The board will seek some $700,000 to fund the program, according to Ms. Coulton, when the legislature convenes early in 1987. In the last session, lawmakers voted down funding for an 8th-grade basic-skills test. The Oregon Education Association and large school districts opposed it.
The Board of Trustees of the California State University this month voted, without dissent, to further strengthen academic requirements for entering freshmen.
Until last year, csu selected first-time freshmen on the basis of high-4school grade-point average and an aptitude-test score but did not prescribe specific high-school subjects. Last fall, the system began requiring four years of English and two years of mathematics for admission.
The new requirements, effective in 1988, add a third year of math; two years of a foreign language; one year each of laboratory science, the arts, and U.S. history and government; and three years of academic electives.
The stricter standards will bring entrance requirements for the 19-campus csu system into near-alignment with those of the University of California. csu admits only students placing in the top third of high-school graduating classes; uc limits enrollment to students in the top 12 percent.
The new requirements, which have been criticized as a barrier to Hispanic and black pupils, were motivated in part by the system's high dropout rate, according to a board spokesman. Only about 25 percent of all entering students--and 12 percent of minority students--earn bachelor's degrees from the university within five years.
A Chicago citizens' group has charged that the school-reform package enacted by the Illinois legislature this past summer is "minimal" and will not serve adequately those students who need help.
In its report, the Chicago Panel on Public School Finance, a coalition of 17 civic organizations, criticized the legislature for failing to embrace reforms adopted in other states, such as a longer school day, an extended school year, smaller classes, and higher minimum salaries for teachers. It also charged that reforms were underfunded.
The panel, which earlier this year charged that Chicago students with a high probability of dropping out were concentrated in inner-city8schools, belittled the state's $38-million remedial-reading program for elementary students, saying that an effective remedial-education program would cost between $137 million and $281 million.
It also charged that only 12 percent of children from households living in poverty would benefit from the $12-million preschool program. And it criticized lawmakers for adopting a $15-million summer-school program rather than more costly changes in the school calendar.
The panel, however, praised a measure requiring the Chicago school board to hold annual budget hearings in each school, giving parents and citizens a chance to shape spending decisions.
Gov. Harry Hughes of Maryland has announced a "marketing-assistance program" to help municipalities, other public bodies, and day-care centers obtain liability-insurance coverage.
Day-care centers, school districts, and other public agencies across the nation have faced steep rate increases for liability insurance and widespread policy cancellations in recent months. (See Education Week, Sept. 11 and Oct. 23, 1985.)
According to Thomas P. Barbera, deputy insurance commissioner, the timing of the program was hastened by the business failure of a major insurer of in-home day-care facilities. Mission Insurance Company, which has been declared insolvent and has been barred from issuing new policies in the state, will be sending notices of nonrenewal to 240 day-care providers in Maryland beginning in January, Mr. Barbera said.
Under the state's voluntary program, organizations or agencies that cannot obtain insurance may apply to a committee of 50 insurance agents and brokers. If the panel cannot find a company willing to insure the applicant, a second committee of professional underwriters will determine ways to lessen the applicant's risk.
If that panel fails to find an insurer, Mr. Barbera said, one of the 50 participating companies will write a policy.
The Michigan Board of Education, in an effort to upgrade teacher competency, has voted to require new teachers to requalify for certification every five years.
The requirement, which must be approved by a joint committee of the legislature and would take effect in September 1989, was part of a package of changes described by Philip E. Runkel, the state superintendent, as "the most significant set of changes in teacher certification in the last 15 years."
In place of lifetime certification, now granted to teachers who complete three years of successful teaching and 18 semester hours of graduate work, the rule would require new teachers to complete six additional semester hours of graduate work or state-approved professional-development training every five years to be recertified, according to Ned Hubbell, a spokesman for the state board.
The board also voted to require middle-school teachers to earn a special endorsement in addition to certification. To qualify, teachers must have completed college coursework in human growth and development, reading instruction, and the teaching of the handicapped, the gifted and talented, and minority students; they also must have a major or minor in the subject area in which they intend to teach.
Schools in West Virginia sustained more than $10.3 million in damages, and four remain closed, following a flood this month described as the worst to hit the state in half a century.
Twenty schools were seriously damaged, according to Elnora Pepper, public-information officer for the state superintendent's office. Regular classes have not been held in Pendleton and Preston counties since the disaster, and it is not yet clear when they will resume, she said.
An entire wing of a vocational school in Preston County was washed away, said Ms. Pepper. In Pendleton County, one school building is serving as an emergency shelter. About 70 roads and bridges in the county remain closed, making it impossible for children to attend classes even if the school were open, Ms. Pepper added.
Twenty-nine of West Virginia's 55 counties have been declared federal disaster areas.
Ms. Pepper said some teachers around the state are holding classes in churches and community centers, but most schools are open.
One school in Maryland's Allegany County was also damaged in the flood, according to Gus Crenson, a spokesman for the state superintendent's office. Mr. Crenson said students there are being bused to schools in neighbordering counties.
A disproportionately high percentage of black teachers failed Georgia's controversial recertification test, taken by veteran teachers for the first time in September, a state education official reported this month.
A measure passed this year by the legislature requires practicing teachers who wish to renew their credentials to pass a state-developed subject-area test by next July. All new teachers in the state have been required to pass the same test since 1978.
Only 38 percent of the 214 practicing black teachers who took the test in September passed, compared with 88 percent of the 332 white teachers tested, according to Werner Rogers, associate state superintendent of schools. Teachers have three chances to pass the test.
In a complaint filed this past August with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Georgia Association of Educators--the largest teachers' union in the state--and four teachers contend8that the new testing requirement violates federal civil-rights laws.
The gae, an affiliate of the National Education Association, also may file suit in federal court to stop the testing of veteran teachers, said Roger D. Stephon, a union spokesman. The union is not opposed to testing new teachers, he added.
Georgia is the second state to test licensed teachers. Arkansas began such testing earlier this year and Texas will follow suit next year.
Some Illinois high-school students could take the road test required for their driver's license in school driver-education classes under new regulations proposed by the Illinois secretary of state.
Jim Edgar, whose office administers the road tests, has proposed that high-school students who have completed a driver-education course with a grade of A or B be allowed to take a road test administered by a driver-education teacher.
"We are hoping that the move would eliminate the long lines that form for road testing," Mr. Edgar said. He added that the new regulations, which would probably take effect by next summer, would save his office about 86,000 hours of work annually.
School-district participation in the new program would be optional, Mr. Edgar said. Most driver-education teachers seem positive about the idea, he added.
The leaders of five major education organizations in New Mexico--in what some of the organizations' leaders call an "unprecedented" display of public unity--have jointly adopted a tentative six-point plan for school reform.
State organizations representing school boards, administrators, deans, and two teachers' unions have worked out the proposals over the past several months to present a unified front to the legislature, said Elvira Crocker, communications di-rector for the National Education Association of New Mexico.
The six-point plan includes: recruiting and retaining quality teachers by raising salaries, reducing class sizes, lengthening the school year, strengthening certification requirements, and allowing reciprocity for teachers accredited in other states.
It also backs a newly implemented basic-skills test to measure student progress; upgrading kindergarten programs from half-day to full-day and providing special programs for disadvantaged 4-year-olds; providing more money for educational materials; strengthening tenure to increase job security; and affirming full school-board control over district policies, with guidance from state officials.
Representatives of the five groups presented their common proposals to the legislature's education study committee last week, Ms. Crocker said. She stressed that not all members of the coalition had approved all elements of the plan, but she said they would work to resolve their differences before the legislature begins drafting a school-reform bill early next year.
Vol. 05, Issue 13