News In Brief: Compromise Reached In Ind. Testing Dispute

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Democratic Gov. Evan Bayh and Republican legislators have agreed to a compromise over changes in Indiana's statewide testing program, ending a yearlong fight over the test.

Last spring, the legislature approved the use of essay questions in the Indiana Statewide Testing for Education Progress exam, in addition to the traditional multiple-choice questions.

Concern about what critics said was the personal nature of the essay questions led four Republican lawmakers and two parents' groups to file a lawsuit asking that the test be blocked. A state judge dismissed the suit in December, saying he would not get involved in a legislative dispute.

The compromise, which lawmakers are expected to pass this session, would allow essay questions evaluated by a review panel and selected from state-approved textbooks and other approved sources. Questions and scoring methods would be made public after the tests were given, and parents would be able to review essay questions.

The state's 3rd, 6th, and 10th graders are scheduled to take the test next month.

Chairman Silber

After weeks of waffling, John L. Silber has accepted an appointment as the chairman of the Massachusetts board of education.

Gov. William F. Weld tapped the Boston University president for the job months ago, but Mr. Silber reportedly had disagreed with the governor over the scope of the chairman's power. He was won over when Gov. Weld proposed legislation to dissolve the current board and replace it with a smaller one. Its meetings would be controlled by the chairman and would no longer include student representatives or officials from other state agencies.

Martin Kaplan, the current chairman, resigned from the board last week in protest, calling the move "an insult to the concept of an independent board."

Mr. Silber, who is known for outspoken statements on contentious issues and for his university's management of the Chelsea, Mass., public schools, was Gov. Weld's Democratic opponent in the 1990 gubernatorial election.

Teenage Labor

The Washington state House has voted to loosen restrictions on the number of hours that teenagers can work during the school year.

The bill, which was approved 61-35 last month, would repeal rules enacted in 1993.

The measure would allow youths under 16 to work up to 18 hours each week, up from 16 hours, but retain a three-hour-per-day limit. Limits for 16- and 17-year-olds would rise from four hours per day and 20 hours a week to 10 hours per day and 24 hours per week.

The measure now goes to a Senate panel for consideration.

Vol. 15, Issue 20

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