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The Indiana Board of Education voted this month to suspend action on school accreditations until questions about the review process can be addressed.

The 11-member board decided to postpone further decisions on accrediting6schools after the state education department released a preliminary list of schools that failed to meet all the standards needed to qualify for accreditation under a new system that took effect in the 1988-89 school year.

The list showed that 65 of 354 schools reviewed last year did not qualify for immediate accreditation.

In the wake of strong public reaction to the report, board members raised concerns about the fairness of the process and about how it "led the general public to have those schools labeled as failures," a spokesman for the department said.

The "performance based" accreditation system, enacted as part of the state's "A+" program in 1987, factors in such measures as standardized test scores, math and language proficiency, and attendance and graduation rates.

Although the process was set up "with a great deal of thought and effort," and is still thought to be a "positive way to help schools," the board was concerned that initial review results were "not handled in a way that would strengthen schools," said Joan McNagny, a board member. "It hit them with a need to defend their schools before the board had acted."

The board plans to discuss the accreditation-review process at its meeting next month.

Twelve dairy companies and their representatives conspired to divide the state's $20-million school milk business among themselves by rigging the competitive-bidding process, a suit filed by the Georgia attorney general has charged.

Attorney General Michael Bowers filed the suit Oct. 6 in U.S. District Court in Brunswick. According to George P. Shingler, the assistant attorney general handling the case, it is "extremely likely" the state will also take criminal action against the dairy suppliers.

Under Georgia law, it is a felony for businesses to conspire in dealings with local governmental agencies such as school districts.

The 12 companies named in the suit are Associated Dairy Farmers, Atlanta Dairies, Borden, Coble Dairies Cooperative, Coburg Dairy, Dairymen, Dempsey Brothers Dairies, Flav-O-Rich, Kinnett Dairies, Land-O-Sun Dairies, Meadow Gold Dairies, and Pet.

Some North Carolina schools offer no special courses for academically gifted students, while others offer unchallenging courses, and very few allow students to skip grades, a study by the state Department of Public Instruction has found.

The study concluded that programs for gifted students are poorly defined and suffer from a lack of funding. The state pays local school districts $587 per gifted student, about a third of the $1,598 it gives for other exceptional students.

In North Carolina last year, approximately 5.8 percent of all public-school students were designated as academically gifted.

The study, which was requested by the General Assembly, examined programs for 3rd, 5th, and 8th graders in the state's 6 largest school systems, in 6 medium-sized districts, and in 12 school systems with fewer than 11,900 students.

The greatest shortfall occurred in programs for 3rd graders, said Bill Inman, the department's chief consultant for research. "In fact, there is practically nothing from K to 3," he said.

However, the study found that almost all middle schools had some type of program for academically gifted students.

The study recommended that the state adopt models of accelerated and enrichment programs from which to gather data, Mr. Inman said.

Vol. 09, Issue 07

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