News in Brielf: A State Capitals Roundup

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Oregon Freshmen Get a Break

Oregon 9th graders will get a partial break on a battery of requirements that they were scheduled to pass next year to earn a first-time "certificate of initial mastery" from the state.

As part of the state's 1991 school reform law, next year's sophomores were slated to submit 16 work samples in communications, reading and literature, math, and writing. Grades on the work will determine who earns the certificate.

But the state school board decided last month that some teachers and students need more time to prepare for the full set of requirements. As a result, only eight samples will be required next year.

The full 16 will not be required until the 2000-2001 school year, when samples in science and social studies will also be mandatory.

"The longer phase-in gives districts an opportunity to focus on quality and not quantity," Larry Austin, the spokesman for the state education department, said.

Ohio Superintendent Will Retire

Superintendent John M. Goff of Ohio has announced he will retire at the end of this year, after weeks of rumors that he was leaving because of a rift with some state school board members.

Mr. Goff, 59, has led the 1.8 million-student state system since 1995.

In a Feb. 20 letter to the state board, Mr. Goff said he will leave as of next Jan. 1 because it "is a natural and logical transition point for me both professionally and personally." He noted that his job prevents him from spending much time with his family and that his retirement will coincide with a new governor's term. Republican Gov. George V. Voinovich, who appointed Mr. Goff, is running for the U.S. Senate.

Mr. Goff, who has spent his 38-year career in South Carolina and Ohio, has grappled with school finance, academic standards, urban problems, and teacher quality as Ohio's state chief.

Hawaii Schools Chief To Resign

The Hawaii board of education is looking for a new superintendent after Herman Aizawa's announcement that he will step down as the superintendent of the 189,000-student statewide system.

At the board's request, Mr. Aizawa has agreed to stay in his job until June 30. He said he resigned because the state board has not promised to give him another contract when his current one expires next month. "I need a multiyear commitment, and they're not willing to do that," he said in an interview. Mr. Aizawa has served in the position since 1994.

Because Hawaii has only one school district, Mr. Aizawa also serves as the state's chief educational administrator.

The board didn't know Mr. Aizawa planned to resign unless he got a new contract until he announced his reason for leaving to the press, said Karen Knudsen, the chairwoman of the board.

The board felt the current contract had some problems that needed to be worked out, Ms. Knudsen said. It contains benchmarks that Mr. Aizawa has not met and that are difficult to attain, she said.

N.H. Panel Proposes Standards

New Hampshire students should have reading, writing, and speaking skills, knowledge of mathematics, science, and technology, an understanding of civics and government, and a grounding in the arts and literature.

They should also have problem-solving skills and be prepared to succeed in higher education or a career.

Those are the recommendations of a task force appointed by Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, which was charged with crafting a definition of educational adequacy and then devising an equitable funding formula to pay for it.

The task force was created in response to the state supreme court's ruling in December that New Hampshire's heavy reliance on property taxes to pay for education is unconstitutional.

The group studied school reform laws in several states, including Kentucky and North Carolina.

The committee also suggested possible ways to determine the per-pupil cost of an adequate education and recommended procedures for rewarding districts that exceed state standards and helping those that don't.

Programs for early literacy development and technology enhancement were also among the group's recommendations, which were released last month.

Gov. Shaheen is expected to propose legislation soon that will incorporate elements of the task force's work.

Reading for All, Engler Orders

Gov. John Engler of Michigan has issued an executive order requiring schools to provide every student in the state with individually focused reading instruction and tutoring beginning next fall.

His order calls on the state education department to develop an assessment program for schools and "reading-readiness kits" for parents in time for the 1998-99 school year.

The Republican governor also wants a summer reading program for students who are reading below grade level in place by the summer of 1999.

"My goal is to have all children reading at grade level by the time they're in the 4th grade," Mr. Engler said in a written statement last month.

But some say the governor's action may pose difficulties.

"If this imposes additional costs on districts, there would be a problem," said Tony Derenzinski, the director of government relations for the Michigan Association of School Boards.

"And there's always a concern that a one-size-fits-all solution does not in fact fit all," he said.

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