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PROVIDENCE, R.I. - An influx of students, deluxe accommodations, and high off-campus rents are causing some Rhode Island colleges to squeeze more students into their dormitories.

Five hundred double rooms at the University of Rhode Island have been converted into triples to house the school's 2,600 freshmen - the largest class in URI history. At Providence College, 91 triples have been turned into quads, forcing 10 percent of the 2,800 students living on campus to share overcrowded rooms.

Part of URI's housing crunch is self-inflicted. In April, its president outlined a three-year plan to boost enrollment by 1,000, adding 200 more freshmen each year.

Microsoft vision: a school with no paper

PHILADELPHIA - Microsoft Corp. will help design a $46 million public school in Philadelphia, with the aim of embedding computer technology in classrooms and offices.

Plans for the high school, set to open in 2006, call for a paperless building where students use online textbooks, teachers quiz on laptops, and automated systems order cafeteria supplies as they are depleted. "It will be a school of the future," says Paul Vallas, district chief executive.

Microsoft's exact role in the partnership is still being discussed, but the company's main contribution will be expertise, not free hardware and software.

Microsoft has been working to deepen its share of the market for educational tools, an area where it has long lagged behind rivals.

Is race gap really closing in Bay State?

BOSTON - A rising share of students did not disclose their race when taking this year's Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) exam, calling into question the accuracy of claims that the racial-achievement gap has narrowed.

About 7 percent of all test takers did not specify their race when they took the 2003 test, state education officials report. Typically, between 1 and 3 percent of test takers do not indicate race.

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