News from the Associated Press - August 7, 2014

Associated Press
August 7, 2014

NY releases half of 2014 statewide test questions

NEW YORK (AP) — New York education officials have released half of the state's 2014 standardized math and English test questions.

The material released Wednesday includes questions from tests that students in grades 3 through 8 took last spring.

Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch says releasing the test questions will help teachers assess whether their students are learning.

But critics say the test questions are flawed.

Special education teacher Bianca Tanis says some questions are not "developmentally appropriate."

This year was the second year that New York's tests were designed to incorporate the Common Core learning standards that have been adopted by most states in an effort to boost academic rigor.

Scores plunged in 2013, the first year of Common Core-aligned tests. The 2014 test scores will be released later this month.


Penn Future limits ties to Sustainable Shale group

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Another environmental group has distanced itself from the Pittsburgh-based Center for Sustainable Shale Development, a hotly-debated partnership between major energy companies, green groups, and foundations.

PennFuture, a leading Pennsylvania environmental group that helped found the center, is no longer a "strategic partner." The Public Accountability Initiative, a Buffalo, New York non-profit, disclosed the shift Wednesday and also criticized the center's staff and funders for ties to the oil and gas industry.

Penn Future spokeswoman Elaine Labalme says they still participate with CSSD when they believe it's worth providing input.

Sustainable Shale director Susan LeGros says they work with groups who have different viewpoints. The group seeks tougher but voluntary rules on gas drilling.

Over the past year the Heinz Endowments and the William Penn Foundation stopped funding the center.


FirstEnergy's Pa. utilities request rate increases

READING, Pa. (AP) — The four Pennsylvania subsidiaries of FirstEnergy Corp. are seeking rate increases to help pay for infrastructure enhancements.

The utilities filed rate plans with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Monday.

Under the proposals, residential customers who use 1,000 kilowatt hours a month would see their bills increase by 11.8 percent for Penn Power, 14.7 percent for West Penn Power, 16.3 percent for Penelec and 17.8 percent for Met-Ed.

FirstEnergy Pennsylvania Operations President Dave Karafa says the new rates would allow the company to use technology to reduce the number of outages and the number of customers affected when outages occur.

The subsidiaries serve about 2 million Pennsylvania customers.

The utilities want to put the rates into effect Oct. 3.


Cuomo orders flags at half-staff for Albany native

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered flags on state government buildings across New York to be flown at half-staff to honor the general from upstate who was killed in Afghanistan Tuesday.

The U.S. military says 55-year-old Army Maj. Gen. Harold Greene of Falls Church, Virginia, died Tuesday when a gunman believed to be an Afghan soldier opened fire at a military academy near Kabul.

Greene was born in Albany and graduated from high school in suburban Guilderland. He was a 1980 graduate of from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in nearby Troy, where he earned degrees in engineering.

Greene is survived by his wife, Susan, and their two children, Matthew and Amelia.

Cuomo on Wednesday ordered flags on state government buildings to be flown at half-staff Thursday.

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