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A data processing error caused three Illinois public schools to be mistakenly placed on the state's first official list of low-performing schools earlier this fall.

The state school board this month withdrew Neponset Elementary School, Savanna High School, and Meredosia-Chambersburg Junior High from its academic watch list, after learning of a mistake in calculating the Illinois Goals Assessment Program test scores, on which the list is based.

Joseph A. Spagnolo

The warning list is intended to alert teachers, parents, and the community if more than half of a school's IGAP exam scores rank below state standards for two years or more, or if the exam scores drop substantially over three consecutive years.

Schools that fail to improve are subject to state intervention.

Local school officials blame the state board for not double-checking the scores before releasing the list in September.

They say the error caused their schools embarrassment and led to finger pointing from disgruntled parents.

"Teachers were under a great deal of stress" when the scores were released to the news media, said Larry E. Wilcoxen, the superintendent of the 155-student Neponset school system.

State Superintendent Joseph A. Spagnolo said in a press release that the mistake "is unfortunate, and the source of the problems could be any or all of us, the schools, the testing contractor, or the state board."

Proper Attire

Gov. Pete Wilson of California used his veto recently to kill a bill that would have made it harder to require female students to wear skirts as part of school uniforms.

Current law allows districts to prohibit female students from wearing pants to school, although students can be exempted from the rule by their parents.

Assembly Bill 1200 would have required parents to give written consent to a district before it could prohibit female students from wearing pants to school.

Assemblywoman Diane Martinez, a Democrat, proposed the bill.

The Republican governor said that the bill was laudable for promoting parental choice.

But as he vetoed the bill, he added that, in practice, it would "place an undue burden on the school."


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