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SCHOOL DISTRICT PREPARING FOR NEW DIPLOMA STANDARDS

Preparing for state-ordered standardized Regents tests that will be required for a high school diploma by 2000, the West Seneca Central School District is upgrading its elementary school reading programs and comparing its Regents and advanced placement test results with other districts to give high school teachers a yardstick to measure their performance.

The School Board Monday heard the first of seven elementary school presentations, as Clinton Elementary staff explained how they are working for earlier "intervention" so that children do not fall behind in reading and writing skills. The aim is to make sure all pupils pass the standard tests mandated by the state at the third- and sixth-grade levels.

By using reading and writing to teach every subject -- as well as stressing phonics for those children who learn best that way -- a foundation should be laid for tougher high school standards being phased in now. High school Regents diplomas are now optional.

"Parents will have to assume more responsibility as the bar is raised," said West High School Principal James Brotz, explaining that teachers have been given test results for Regents and advanced placement students from similar-sized districts for the last four years. He said that information is "being seriously studied" by the teachers.

Questioned by Trustee Howard Avnet, East High School Principal Renee Goshin said: "We are also looking at changing from a 40-minute class period to block time of 80 minutes. We already offer Saturday Regents review classes."

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