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95% Of Mass. Students Pass MCAS


After several attempts, about 95 percent of Massachusetts high school students in the class of 2003 have cleared the MCAS graduation requirement, according to results released Monday by elated state education leaders.

Nearly 57,000 students from last year’s senior class have passed the MCAS test, leaving about 3,300 students still struggling to get over the bar, the Department of Education announced. Minority, special-education, and limited-English students all gained ground on their white and regular-education counterparts, passing in far greater numbers than on their first attempt two years ago.

The class of 2003 was the first to pass the 10th-grade English and math sections of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exam, known as one of the nation’s toughest standardized tests. Just 68 percent of students in the class passed it on their first try in May 2001.

Now, after five retests, a renewed emphasis in high schools on test-taking skills, and school days crammed with extra English and math courses, the cumulative 95-percent pass rate far exceeds state Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll’s original predictions.

BU Said To Win Bid For Bioterror Defense Lab


Federal health officials are expected to announce Tuesday that Boston University Medical Center has won a hard-fought national competition to build and run a high-security bioterror defense laboratory in the heart of the South End, a project with the promise of generating $1.6 billion in research grants, according to sources knowledgeable about the selection.

The facility, known as a Biosafety Level 4 lab, would be a cornerstone in the Bush administration’s expanding campaign to prepare for potential acts of bioterrorism, housing hundreds of scientists as they hunt for vaccines and treatments against the deadliest germs and viruses known to mankind, including anthrax, plague, and smallpox.

The lab would be unlike anything Boston’s medical community has ever seen, with extraordinary measures taken to assure that lethal agents cannot escape. At the nation’s three operational Level 4 research centers, armed guards prowl checkpoints, labyrinths of hallways make quick escape impossible, and scientists in laboratory space suits manipulate mechanical hands to work with deadly compounds.

Prosecutors Look To Give Court Clear Choice In Moussaoui Case


Bush administration officials said Monday that federal prosecutors had decided not to object to a motion to dismiss the indictment of Zacarias Moussaoui because they wanted to present an appeals court with a blunt choice: Reinstate the charges or acknowledge that civilian courts cannot prosecute a terror suspect like Moussaoui.

The trial judge, Leonie M. Brinkema of the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., is expected to rule this week on a defense motion to dismiss the indictment of Moussaoui, the only person charged in a U.S. court with conspiring in the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Brinkema has suggested she may dismiss the case because of the government’s refusal to obey her order to make captured Qaida prisoners available to testify for the defense. Court-appointed lawyers for Moussaoui have argued, and the judge has agreed, that the prisoners may be able to offer testimony showing he had no part in the conspiracy.

But the Justice Department has said the government cannot produce captured Qaida witnesses, even those who may have helped direct Moussaoui’s actions, because of the possible public disclosure of classified information. Prosecutors have argued that because the witnesses are held overseas as enemy combatants, Moussaoui has no right to question them.