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In Brief - Education - Nov. 8, 2013

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From The Associated Press

Students top nation in scores
BOSTON — Massachusetts fourth- and eighth-graders are leading the country in reading and math scores.
Massachusetts ranked first in eighth-grade mathematics, and tied for first in fourth-grade reading, fourth-grade mathematics, and eighth-grade reading, according to the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress exam.
On all four tests, Massachusetts students scored well above the national average.
But in grade 4 reading, the average score for Massachusetts students dropped by five points compared to 2011, the last time the test was given.
Massachusetts was one of only three states in the nation to see a statistically significant decline in grade 4 reading scores between 2011 and 2013.
The performance of Massachusetts students held steady on the three other NAEP tests — reading at grade 8 and mathematics at grades 4 and 8.

Teacher charged in sexual assault
READING, Pa.  — Police allege that a 27-year-old eastern Pennsylvania teacher and cheerleading coach had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student.
Nicole Kurowski, a gym teacher at Tulpehocken High School outside Reading, surrendered Wednesday to face charges of institutional sexual assault in Berks County. She is free on $25,000 bail.
Her lawyer didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment Thursday.
State police allege that Kurowski had a sexual relationship with the student both on and off school property during the last school year.
Police say they recovered thousands of text messages, some sexually explicit, as well as photos, and allege that the two traded messages saying “I love you.”
The district superintendent notified police and prosecutors after receiving a tip in early September about Kurowski, who has been suspended without pay.

Florida teacher back in class
MIAMI  — A fourth-grade teacher in Florida has returned to the classroom after a suspension for requiring one of her students, a Jehovah’s Witness, to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance on 9/11, school district officials said Thursday.
Anne Daigle-McDonald was placed on an alternative assignment, suspended for five days without pay and ordered to complete diversity training after an investigation into allegations that she placed her hands on the student to bring his hand to his heart during the pledge, forced him to participate against his religious beliefs. The teacher violated his constitutional rights and made derogatory remarks, according to a report by the Hernando County School District.
McDonald has returned to teaching, but it wasn’t immediately clear whether she returned to the same class at Explorer K-8 in Spring Hill in the Tampa Bay area, district spokesman Roy Gordon said Thursday.
Messages left for McDonald, who has taught in the district for nine years, at her home and at Explorer K-8 were not immediately returned.