Education Roundup: New York Bill Could Make SAT Cheating a Felony

In this week's roundup: Taking another student's SAT for pay could become a crime in New York.

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Welcome to the High School Notes weekly roundup of education news. Every Friday, you'll find out what's making headlines around the Web.

SAT cheating

New York Sen. Kenneth Lavalle proposed a bill Tuesday that would make the act of cheating on SAT tests a felony in his state. The legislation is specifically targeted at those impersonating other test takers for pay and would call for photo identification of each student, and possibly fingerprinting and retinal scans. The Washington Post reports that Lavalle's bill was prompted by a September cheating scandal in a New York suburb, where imposters were accused of receiving up to $3,600 for taking tests for high schoolers.

State teacher report cards

In most states, there have been major improvements in teacher effectiveness policies, according to the fifth annual "State Teacher Policy Yearbook" report from the not-for-profit National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). The report, which grades the quality and rigor of state teacher policies, gave out the highest scores it's ever given to seven states: Florida, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. Policies of using teacher effectiveness data for tenure and dismissal decisions, as well as teacher evaluations, caused much of the improvement in teacher policy grades.

State of the Union

"Every person in this chamber can point to a teacher who changed the trajectory of their lives," President Barack Obama said in the State of the Union address Tuesday. Obama said he wants to reward good teachers by giving them the freedom to teach creatively, without them feeling bound to simply teach students to pass standardized tests. Schools should also replace the teachers who aren't helping students learn, he said.

In the address, Obama also proposed that every state should require all of its students to stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18. "When students don't walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma," Obama said.

The day after Obama's proposal to keep students in high school longer, the Georgia General Assembly introduced a bill to raise the state's dropout age from 16 to 17, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. According to the AJC, only 15 states and the District of Columbia require students to stay in school until age 18. Nine states have a dropout age of 17, and 26 states allow students to leave high school at age 16.

School lunches

Students who buy federally subsidized school lunches will be eating more fruits and vegetables and less pizza, according to new regulations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In an effort to curb childhood obesity in America, the new rules will double produce servings, downsize portions, reduce fats and sodium, and allow only fat-free and low-fat milk to be served. The new lunch regulations will be phased in during the 2012-2013 school year.

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