News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup

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Michigan Pulls Test Question on the Mideast That Jewish and Arab Groups Find Offensive

Michigan officials have withdrawn a social studies question from the state's test for 8th graders following complaints that it unfairly blamed Islam and Judaism for conflict in the Middle East.

The question will not count toward scores, and some students who had not taken the test by the time the question was pulled were told to skip it. The test, part of the Michigan Educational Assessment Program, was given last month and early this month.

The multiple-choice question asked which religions contribute to Middle Eastern turmoil, with the correct answer being Islam and Judaism, the predominant faiths in the Arab nations and Israel, respectively. But Arab and Jewish groups said the question wrongly stressed religion when the conflict's roots are political and economic.

Bridget A. Medina, a spokeswoman for the state treasury department, which oversees the MEAP tests, said the questions are reviewed by separate committees checking for educational content and for freedom from bias.

— Bess Keller

Ruling Upholding Texas Exit Exam Won't Be Appealed

Hispanic and black students who lost a federal lawsuit seeking to prove that the Texas high school graduation test is unconstitutional have decided not to appeal the decision.

A lawyer with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund who helped represent the plaintiffs said they wanted to avoid the risk that an appellate court would confirm the lower- court decision or even reverse favorable parts of it.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Edward C. Prado in San Antonio rejected the argument that the exit exam violated the rights of blacks and Hispanics by depriving them of high school diplomas at higher rates than other students.("Federal Judge Rules That Texas Exit Exam Is Constitutional," Jan. 19, 2000.)

Students must pass Texas Assessment of Academic Skills tests in reading, writing, and math to graduate from high school. They have eight chances to do so.

—Bess Keller

Vol. 19, Issue 23, Page 21

Published in Print: February 16, 2000, as News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
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