Boycott Fails as Educators Take Three Rs Test

United Press International

An overwhelming majority of the state's public schoolteachers and administrators Saturday took the nation's first basic skills exam required for recertification.

The Arkansas Education Assn., a 17,000-member union, had urged a boycott of the state-mandated teacher testing but did not gain much support.

"The impact of the boycott was very light, if there was a boycott at all," Tommy Venters, director of the Arkansas Education Department's general education section, said after most of the 276 testing stations had completed two sessions of testing.

Venters said he believed that more than 90% of the state's 28,000 public schoolteachers and administrators took the test despite the boycott threat.

Peggy Nabors of Little Rock, president of the educators' union, said the failure Friday of a legal challenge to the testing law may have swayed many teachers to take the test despite their objections.

Copies of Test Reported

However, despite the high compliance rate, controversy was raised Saturday night when a Little Rock television station reported that some teachers obtained copies of the test before taking the exam.

"We got the copies from a teacher," KARK-TV anchorman Greg Lund said. "That's all I can say about it."

Venters denied the report.

Under the testing program, passed in 1983 by the Legislature at the urging of Gov. Bill Clinton, all public schoolteachers and administrators were required to be tested on fundamental skills in reading, writing and mathematics.

Only teachers with valid excuses were to be exempted and allowed to take the test later. Teachers who fail have four more chances to pass, but if they have not done so by 1987, their teaching credentials will not be renewed.

The educators' union has vowed to stand behind teachers who risk losing certification by boycotting the testing program, which the organization contends is unconstitutional.

A judge in Little Rock, however, ruled Friday that the testing law meets constitutional standards.

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