District News Roundup
New York City may be prevented from using the National Teacher Examinations to license teachers because of a decision made this month by the company that administers the tests.
The Educational Testing Service said it would no longer supply the city's board of education with scores on the nte because the city is incorrectly setting the cutoff scores needed to pass the examinations.
The decision could prevent between 300 and 1,000 people a year from gaining a license to teach in the city, said Robert Terte, a spokesman for the board.
Most New York City teachers earn their licenses by taking tests administered by the city's own board of examiners. But a state decentralization law allows some teachers to be hired on the basis of their nte scores.
That same law requires the city to set a cutoff score for the nte that is equal to the average score in the five largest cities using the test. But the procedure does not meet ets guidelines, company officials said last week. The city should either use the passing score required for state certification, they said, or conduct its own study to determine a separate cutoff score.
According to Mr. Terte, neither action is possible under current state law.
A bill now before the legislature would change the way teachers are hired and licensed in New York City. The testing company has refused to grant the city an extension while the problem is being worked out.
Striking teachers and classroom aides in Cleveland returned to work March 7 following a tentative settlement in a contract disetween the city's board of education and the 5,400-member Cleveland Teachers Union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers.
District and union officials said last week that they would not make the terms of the settlement public until all ctu members had voted on the pact. Union leaders, who recommended that the membership approve the settlement, were to have announced the results of the polling on the evening of March 11.
The school board has already approved the terms of the settlement.
The teachers, who had been working without a contract since last September, walked off the job Feb. 25, after negotiations had failed to resolve an impasse on the issues of salary and a board proposal to implement a career ladder.
The strike forced most of the district's 72,600 students to miss school for more than a week. District administrators, however, conducted some classes for high-school seniors during the strike period.
Medical experts from the University of Washington have determined that the higher-than-normal cancer rate among teachers at a Pullman, Wash., school is not related to the school's building.
The Washington researchers undertook the investigation at Jefferson Elementary School after a teacher there notified district officials that seven of the school's teachers had been diagnosed as having cancer since 1972, and that many more had suffered from severe allergies, unexplained hair loss, and fatigue.
School officials estimate that more than 100 different teachers have taught at the school during the past 16 years.
Clayton Dunn, the district's superintendent, said the researchers could not link the reported illnesses to one cause or to the school building's environment.
A Morristown, N.J., teen-ager who was paralyzed in a fall from gymnastic rings will receive $2.5 million from the Chester Township school board, according to the student's lawyer.
The parents of Jon Markowitz, 17, a quadriplegic as a result of the fall, reached a settlement with the school board in Morris County Superior Court on March 2, said the lawyer, Adrian Karp.
The student, a junior at West Morris-Mendham High School, will receive $769,903 immediately, and a $1.73-million annuity, which will be used to finance payments of approximately $11,500 a month for the rest of his life.
The teen-ager was paralyzed three years ago after he fell from rings at the Black River Middle School. His suit charged that the rings were placed too high.
The school board, however, claims it was not negligent and has said it will sue the manufacturer and distributor of the protective mat the boy landed on.
The superintendent of the St. Paul public schools is earning more than state law allows, according to an opinion by the state attorney general.
Under state law, public officials may not earn a salary that exceeds 95 percent of the Governor's salary, which is $94,204 this year.
The St. Paul school board last month increased David Bennett's base salary to $89,484. At issue in the current dispute is whether $7,500 in annual payments made by the board to his tax-deferred annuity should be included within the salary cap.
Lawyers for the state and district were meeting last week to discuss the attorney general's opinion that the deferred compensation is illegal, according to Daniel Bostrom, the board's president.
Kentucky officials are asking for help from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in evaluating higher-than-average benzene levels in the air near a Catlettsburg elementary school.
Two air samples taken by the state's department for environmental protection after complaints of illness by children in the school found levels of the cancer-causing substance at 5 and 13 parts per billion in the air outside the Cooper Elementary School. The school is located in an industrial part of the state. Nationally, benzene levels in non-industrial areas average between 2 and 3 parts per billion.
Baltimore Public School officials are moving to expand their Commonwealth Program, a partnership with 150 local businesses and 10 higher-education institutions designed to encourage students to improve their attendance and achievement.
Under the expanded program, all students who attain a 95 percent attendance rate during their last two years of high school are guaranteed at least three job interviews upon graduation. Those who fail to find employment will be provided with additional training, school officials say.
Previously, only students who achieved a grade-point average of 80 percent or above could qualify for the program. Officials expect that 1,500 of the city's 4,800 annual graduates will qualify for the expanded program, up from about 600 in each of its first three years.
Vol. 07, Issue 25