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Nebraska improves standardized tests

Standardized testing, like it or not, is firmly embedded in our country as a tool for judging students' academic performance. As such, it's encouraging that the delivery of exams this year was generally positive — a welcome change from some previous years.

In 2013-14, for example, Nebraska released no state writing test scores because of technology problems during testing. Similar problems disrupted testing on the writing test in 2016: At 18 schools in six districts, students couldn't log in. At 207 schools from 143 districts, students couldn't access spell-check and dictionary testing tools.

In the wake of those problems, the State Board of Education last year changed testing contractors and recently voted to continue working with that vendor.

Nebraska has made notable progress in improving its statewide testing. Now it's time to resolve the remaining problems, then remain vigilant in ensuring the testing quality.

- Omaha World-Herald


Congress, not executive orders, must govern

The rationale for the rejection of the Iran accord is that it was a bad deal for the United States. Time will tell if the president is able to create a more favorable approach to Iran's bad behavior.

But whatever the outcome, his action illustrates a problem with how Washington operates these days: government policies by presidential executive actions, instead of laws passed by Congress.

Congress has become so polarized that Democrats and Republicans can barely come to agreement on basic procedural matters, let alone legislative questions that need resolution. The lesson today should be that executive orders are useful but are no substitute for laws passed by Congress concerning long-term policies of the United States.

It is easy to blame presidents for uncertainties sometimes caused by executive orders. But Congress should become more assertive in assuming its responsibilities in determining national policies.

- Grand Island Independent


Serve on boards to serve greater Nebraska

We residents of "Greater Nebraska" too frequently must discuss the need for more professionals, particularly in medical fields. Several rural Nebraska counties currently have no physicians, and there are shortages of other health care professionals needed to operate hospitals, clinics and labs.

These are critical needs, and Nebraska educational and professional leaders are attempting to fill the vacancies.

One approach that may not be so apparent is serving on the various volunteer licensing panels under the State Board of Health. Serving on such boards is a service to the state, with the added bonus of keeping rural board members in tune with trends and happenings that may influence decisions about where professionals may decide to practice.

Serving on health care boards grants volunteers a front-row seat to learn where licensed professionals are practicing and possibly what factors stand between them and taking their career to Greater Nebraska.

- Kearney Hub

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