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The Daily Tar Heel

New Education Act Brings No Major Changes to State

Standardized testing, which is already in place in North Carolina, is one of the major requirements of the act.

But North Carolina won't be greatly affected by the bill, which goes into effect July 1, because of strict educational standards already in place.

The act mandates the use of standardized tests as a means of assessing the performance of elementary and high schools and their students.

It also aims to tighten teaching standards and improve education for low-income students.

The legislation sets a timeline for improved test scores, including consequences for schools that do not meet their goals.

But Bill Grady, a spokesman for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, said the changes will not be significant in North Carolina because of the state's extensive testing programs.

"I think, generally speaking, the bill is somewhat patterned off testing systems in Texas and North Carolina," Grady said.

Neil Pedersen, superintendent of Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, said he does not expect established testing programs to change significantly.

Pedersen said the state will likely get additional funding from the provisions of the bill not already in place in North Carolina, including reading and elementary programs.

Grady also said he expects the state to receive additional funding.

"We can expect increased resources and funding," he said.

Federal funds represent about 7 percent of the state educational budget. Grady said North Carolina can expect almost $1 billion in total federal education funding.

The legislation also includes stipulations to close the gap between minority and non-English speaking students and their white counterparts.

Programs in North Carolina will receive funds based on poverty levels within the student body.

Federal funds will be allotted to states based on income level reports from the 2000 U.S. Census, and the states will then appropriate funds based on school poverty levels to individual school districts.

In North Carolina, schools will receive the money based on the number of students who receive free or reduced lunch.

The passage of the education package caps a year of debate and compromise between Democratic leaders and Bush.

The package is one of the first major domestic policy initiatives of Bush's presidency.

But UNC political science Professor George Rabinowitz said the bill was not significantly delayed by political conflict, though legislators worked on it for almost a year.

Rabinowitz said it was necessary to pass more significant legislation -- such as the federal budget -- before minor bills could be considered.

He said, "(The bill) is a victory in the sense that some positive legislation was passed."

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The State & National Editor can be reached at stntdesk@unc.edu.

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