State News Roundup
The Arizona education department has postponed its review of revised state academic standards in response to concerns that the agency was moving too quickly.
The state school board was scheduled to vote on the revised "essential skills" on Jan. 22, but officials have pushed back the review by up to four months. That will also delay tests of a revamped statewide assessment program that were to take place this spring.
State schools chief Lisa Graham Keegan suspended the assessment program a year ago because of technical problems and complaints that it did not reflect student learning. The program is intended to measure achievement in the subject areas addressed by the essential-skills standards.
A computer error by the North Dakota education department left six of the state's largest school districts short about $425,000 in state aid last year.
The state attorney general is reviewing what can be done to get the money to the districts because it is from the 1993-95 budget cycle--making a new appropriation from the current cycle difficult or impossible, officials said. A resolution of the problem could be up to the courts or the legislature.
"We believe the money is owed to these districts, and we intend to make every effort to see that they get it," said Tom Decker, the director of school district finance and organization for the education department.
The error left out enrollment counts from the districts' alternative high schools in calculating per-pupil state aid, Mr. Decker said. The affected districts are Bismarck, Devils Lake, Fargo, Grand Forks, Jamestown, and Minot.
Victory for Boys Town
Nebraska must pay for the education of wards of the state at Boys Town, a Lancaster County district judge has ruled.
The judge this month rejected the argument that a state law requires the state to pay only the costs of schooling special-education students at the famous home for neglected children.
"We are pleased that the state has been told they should not dishonor their obligations," said the Rev. Val Peter, a Roman Catholic priest who is the executive director of Boys Town, located near Omaha.
The ruling could increase the state's annual payment to the home by about $2 million, to about $3 million, said Michael Rumbaugh, a lawyer for the state department of social services. State officials are expected to appeal the decision.
Good News, Bad News
Wisconsin's dropout rate has fallen to a 10-year low, but officials there are alarmed about a jump in the number of middle school children who are quitting school.
The number of 8th-grade dropouts has more than doubled since the 1993-94 school year--from 356 to 769 in 1994-95, according to the state education department.
"Children between the ages of 12 and 14 who have stopped going to school are quite likely to end up on the streets and committing crimes," said state Superintendent John T. Benson.
Improved attendance in Milwaukee helped lower the state's overall dropout rate to 2.63 percent in 1994-95, the lowest in a decade.