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Senior year: Bring your PJ's?

washington - "Senior slump," which traditionally sets in around January - after college applications are in - is looking a lot more like a yearlong senior slumber party. A panel convened by outgoing Secretary of Education Richard Riley recently released an interim report concluding that most high school seniors are just biding time until graduation, forgoing homework or even classes altogether. And it's not just typical slackers that suffer severe inertia their senior year, but some of the highest achievers, too.

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One-third of seniors are not taking math courses, and two-thirds are skipping science, the study found. Moreover, 13 percent of students at private four-year colleges need remedial courses. A report recommending solutions is expected in June.

Teenage violence up, arrests down

Washington - Fewer juveniles are facing arrest for robbery and homicide, but the number of juveniles committing violent acts is near a record high, according to a study ordered by Congress and the Clinton administration after the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado.

Ten to 15 percent of high school seniors say they committed an act of serious violence in recent years, the study found. However, these acts are less likely than in the past to involve firearms. The report - based on the most reliable data on youth violence - also points out that the drop in arrests follows a drop in firearms that are available to teenagers.

Schools need to take on bullies

Hartford, Conn. - Finding that bullying is a pervasive and serious problem, a state task force urged schools to take action. In nearly 90 percent of Connecticut elementary schools, bullying incidents (defined as "hidden and brutal" conduct that creates fear for the targets) occur "sometimes" or "more often," according to the study.

More optimistically, the study concluded that schools that address bullying can shrink aggressive behavior by more than 50 percent. The state Department of Education is hoping to devote $2.5 million of its budget to school districts for new programs aimed at preventing bullying and other misconduct.

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