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Significant rise in ACT scores in 1990s

The national average ACT score among college-bound high-school graduates has risen from 20.6 in 1989 to 21 this year, a significant bump up, ACT officials report. "This is the first time the ACT score at the end of a decade has been noticeably higher than it was at the beginning," says Richard Ferguson, president of ACT Inc. He credits a "significant increase" in students' preparation for college in the past decade, more students taking a "core" curriculum, and solid performances by minority groups on the test for the improvement.

Maryland sued by religious group

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A group backed by the Unification Church sued the State of Maryland last week claiming that a task force looking into groups operating on public university campuses is an unconstitutional attack on religious groups. Dan Fefferman, executive director of the International Coalition for Religious Freedom, which is funded in part by the church, told the Chronicle of Higher Education that it was "inappropriate to be designating groups with a derogatory term such as 'cults.'"

William Wood, chairman of the panel, denies any bias and says many groups, not only those with religious orientation, are being looked at with reference to their recruiting methods. "One thing this task force has made absolutely clear - it is not in the business of controlling or regulating religion - or naming or identifying groups as being or not being cults," Wood said in a recent Monitor interview. " Several parents last year persuaded the legislature to investigate recruiting practices they say are often deceptive.

-Mark Clayton

Caltech ranked No. 1 among universities

WASHINGTON - Over the 13 years of U.S. News & World Report magazine's best college rankings, the California Institute of Technology - a 900-student school in Pasadena - has always been in the top 10. It placed as high as third in 1989, but this year for the first time it tops the list. Other top national universities for this year are: Harvard (No. 2); the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (No. 3); Princeton University and Yale University (tied at No. 4 ); Stanford University at No. 6; Duke University, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Pennsylvania (both at No. 7); and Columbia University at No. 10.

- From news wires

Teachers: Interested in writing for us?

We are always on the look out for 600-word columns written by kindergarten teachers on up to college professors. To submit a "Class Act" column, e-mail Amelia Newcomb at: newcomba@csps.com or write to The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, MA, 02115.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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