Federal Agency OKs Student Testing

LITTLE ROCK (AP) _ Arkansas' Benchmark and End-Of-Course exams have won approval from a top federal education official.

In a letter and a telephone call to state officials Tuesday, Assistant U-S Secretary of Education Henry Johnson signaled the tests are now fully approved. The test are given to given to more than half of the state's 450-thousand public school students.

The federal approval comes six months after Johnson told state officials that the tests appeared to be too easy. In August, education officials said they would use more conventional exams for students with limited English skills.

The officials also said they would add more strategic-thinking questions. If the Arkansas tests had not won approval, the state could have lost about 188-thousand dollars in federal funding.