State News Roundup

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Concerned that too few of West Virginia's high-school graduates continue their education, the state's 25 college and university presidents have launched a statewide effort to raise the college-going rate.

The state's college presidents' association has drawn up a list of more than three dozen ideas to raise the number of students attending college, including 24 suggested "action items,"according to Father Thomas Acker, president of Wheeling College and the head of the group.

Among the ideas the presidents hope to pursue are: disseminating effective high-school guidance counseling techniques, encouraging 8th- and 9th-grade students to start preparing for college, and educating parents about financial-aid options.

According to Father Acker, West Virginia ranks next to last among the states in the percentage of its high-school graduates who attend college. Less than one-third of the eligible students continue their education, he said, compared with a national average of better than 50 percent.

Eighth-grade students in Connecticut will be the first in the nation to solve mathematics problems on mastery tests with the aid of state-supplied, hand-held calculators, starting next fall.

The state board last week unanimously approved the purchase of 37,000 calculators after Gerald N. Tirozzi, the state education commissioner, argued that their use would help the schools "catch up with the rest of society" and free students to concentrate on higher-order thinking skills.

"The purpose is to get beyond how you add, subtract, multiply, and divide and into when you do it," said Lise Heintz, a spokesman for the commissioner. Students would be allowed to use the calculators on less than half of the state test items, she added.

According to Ms. Heintz, Mr. Tirozzi wanted the state to purchase the calculators to ensure that all students will have them.

The board authorized the release of $130,000 from its existing budget to buy the calculators, she said.

Thirty-three percent of the 960 college students taking South Carolina's test for prospective teachers for the first time last fall failed it, state officials report.

But the failure rate was lower than in the fall of 1984, when 46 percent of the 1,011 students taking the examination failed, said Phoebe C. Winter, who coordinates the test for the state department of education.

The test, called the Education Entrance Examination, is administered each fall and spring. It includes basic-skills subtests in mathematics, reading, and writing; students must receive passing scores on all three subtests to pass the exam, which is required for admission to the state's teacher-education programs.

Students may take the test up to three times. And colleges and universities must provide students who have failed with information on remedial assistance, said Ms. Winter.

Proposals for in-school clinics that would provide pregnancy-prevention counseling to North Carolina teen-agers have been attacked by representatives of fundamentalist religious groups, who charge that such clinics would promote promiscuity.

Last year, the legislature approved a two-year appropriation of $1.9 million to fund projects aimed at preventing adolescent pregnancy and providing prenatal care to teen-agers who become pregnant.

North Carolina ranks 11th among the states in the rate of teen-age pregnancy. About 26,000 North Carolina teen-agers became pregnant in 1984.

The objections to the clinics were raised at a hearing last month on rules to be used for selecting pregnancy-prevention projects from among the 65 proposals submitted to the state department of human resources, said Meredith Mecham Smith, the department's director of public affairs.

Thirteen of the proposals were for school-based clinics, said Ms. Smith.

The clinics would offer a wide range of general health-care services, said Ms. Smith, and would not be permitted to provide or prescribe contraceptives or to perform abortions.

Clinic personnel could counsel students about abortions, however.

Students would be required to have parental consent to use the clinics, she added.

The secretary of human services is expected to select the proposals to be funded by the end of the month, Ms. Smith said.

The Oregon State Board of Education has voted to hold the line at a school year of 175 days, taking away from district officials the option of closing for up to five "weather days" without adjusting the school schedule.

Under the new rule, the state's 306 districts will be required to make up days missed if they fall below the 175-day minimum. The board agreed, however, to delay the effective date until the 1987-88 school year.

The board also approved last month a revised testing policy that lays the groundwork for state assessments of all 8th-grade students and of a representative sample of 3rd- and 5th-grade students. Those tests are scheduled to begin in the spring of 1988.

And the board established essential learning skills that students will be expected to demonstrate in reading, writing, mathematics, speaking, listening, and studying.

Vol. 05, Issue 18

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