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State Panel Increases Control Over East St. Louis Schools

A state oversight committee has seized control of business operations in the East St. Louis, Ill., school system.

The three-member panel voted unanimously last month to entrust all functions of the district's budget office to a Chicago-based accounting firm.

Frustrated by many years of mismanagement in the 13,400-student district, the state superintendent last fall created the oversight committee to monitor its operations.

Richard J. Mark, who heads the panel, said last week that the latest move was necessary because local school officials have failed to straighten out the cash-strapped district's financial affairs. (See Education Week, 2/15/95.)

School board members strongly protested the state panel's decision, claiming they were not given enough time to enact needed reforms.

One board member, Martha E. Young, said last week that she planned to challenge the decision in court.

Poor Results

At least a fourth of Cleveland's high school seniors have yet to pass a 9th-grade proficiency test required by the state.

Nearly 29 percent of the eligible seniors had failed to pass the test as of March--a sharp increase from the same time last year and more than double the failure rates reported in Ohio's other major cities.

Although many Cleveland seniors have since taken make-up tests, district officials do not expect a substantial increase in the number who will pass the proficiency exam. The test measures skills in reading, writing, mathematics, and citizenship.

The group of seniors taking the test represents only 35 percent of the 9th-grade class enrolled four years ago. The rest either failed, dropped out, or were placed in special-education classes and granted exemptions from taking the test.

Local civil-rights activists had challenged the test as discriminatory, but the U.S. Education Department's office for civil rights last fall rejected those claims. (See Education Week, 10/12/94.)

Vol. 14, Issue 37

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