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North Carolina education officials have charged that the National Education Association and its state affiliate are trying to gather ammunition to kill the state's career-ladder program for teachers.

But officials at the North Carolina Association of Educators, the nea affiliate, say the charges are untrue, and that the union continues to support the 2-year-old program, which is being tested in 16 districts.

The accusations stem from statements contained in a letter to the state organization from a national union official who is helping the affiliate develop a survey to assess teachers' attitudes on the career-ladder program.

The letter states, for example, that "a good rule of thumb for reviewing [the survey] questions, is 'will I get any information that will allow the ncae to get some evidence to modify or kill the evaluation system."'

David Holdzkom, director of personnel relations for the state department of public instruction, said last week that he and other officials were troubled that the letter encouraged the affiliate to look for ways to attack, rather than improve, the plan.

"The underlying attitude that surfaces in this letter is that the nea, and by implication the ncae, are more interested in killing and challenging the program than in working to see it improved," he said.

"We have expressed concerns, and will continue to express our concerns, about pieces of of the program," said Karen D. Garr, president of the ncae "But we are not attempting to kill the career-ladder pilot. We support the pilot's running its full course."

She added, however, that it was too early to tell whether the union would recommend statewide adoption. "We will have to wait to see what our members want to do at the end of the pilot period," she said.

School-reform efforts in Arkansas have yielded mixed results, according to an interim report from a three-year study by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.

The report, which details the second-year results of the $250,000 study, says the general perception among school officials and others involved is that reform has meant improvements in staff development and training, teacher involvement in decisionmaking, communication with parents, and student counseling.

But data from 75 school districts also show, it says, substantial increases in special-education placements and grade-retention rates, a decline in public support for the reforms, and "universal disappointment in the inadequacy of fiscal support" to implement them.

The study is based on a survey of 1,200 parents, school administrators, teachers, community leaders, and elected officials, conducted in the spring of 1986 and 1987. A final report will be issued at the end of this year.

The interim report may be obtained free from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, 308 E. Eighth St., Little Rock, Ark., 72202.

An association of small school systems in Tennessee has voted to sue the state over the way it distributes aid.

Leaders of the Tennessee Small Counties Systems also voted last month to hire a former state finance commissioner, Lewis Donelson, to represent the group in the legal action. The suit is expected to be filed in a few months.

Wayne Qualls, superintendent of Hickman County schools and a member of the organization's board, said the purpose of the suit was to "force the state's hand" in devising a school-finance formula that is more equitable for smaller districts.

State education officials said last week that the department would issue by next fall a study of ways to revise the formula.

Newly adopted admissions standards for Washington State's public universities will require high-school students to take more academic courses, have better grades, and score higher on entrance examinations.

The admission policy, approved by the Higher Education Coordinating Board last month, will be phased in over four years. State universities currently set their own standards.

Among the new requirements are: a high-school grade-point average of at least 2.5; a score above a specified level on an entrance examination; and a high-school course load of at least four years of English, three years of mathematics and social studies, two years of science and a foreign language, and one year of an academic elective.

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