National briefs: College prep found lagging

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WASHINGTON -- Almost a third of this year's high school graduates who took the ACT tests are not prepared for college-level writing, biology, algebra or social science classes, according to data the testing company released Wednesday.

The company's annual report also found a gap between students' interests now and projected job opportunities when they graduate, adding to the dire outlook for the class of 2013.

"The readiness of students leaves a lot to be desired," said Jon Erickson, president of the Iowa-based company's education division.

The ACT reported that 31 percent of all high school graduates tested were not ready for any college coursework requiring English, science, math or reading skills. The other 69 percent of test takers met at least one of the four subject-area standards.

Just a quarter of this year's high school graduates cleared the bar in all four subjects.

Common Core awareness

WASHINGTON -- A majority of Americans, 62 percent, have never heard of the Common Core State Standards and dissatisfaction with standardized testing in schools is growing, according to a survey by Phi Delta Kappa International and Gallup released Wednesday.

The Common Core, which was voluntarily adopted by all but a handful of states, was intended to ensure that students graduate from high school prepared to enter college or begin careers, as well as to provide some uniformity in education among the states.

Hasan offers no defense

FORT HOOD, Texas -- The soldier on trial for the deadly 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood rested his case Wednesday without calling a single witness or testifying in his defense, but he later told the judge that the attack was motived by American soldiers deploying to "engage in an illegal war."

After jurors were dismissed, Maj. Nidal Hasan told the judge, Col. Tara Osborn, that the jury shouldn't have the option of convicting him on the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter. "I would like to agree with the prosecution that it wasn't done under the heat of sudden passion," he said. "There was adequate provocation -- that these were deploying soldiers that were going to engage in an illegal war."

Family seeks paternity test

LOS ANGELES -- The family of James Lee DiMaggio is asking for a paternity test to see if he is the biological father of his kidnapping victim, Hannah Anderson, and her little brother, whom he allegedly killed.

On Monday, DiMaggio family spokesman Andrew Spanswick revealed DiMaggio left $112,000 in life insurance to the grandmother of 16-year-old Hannah. Now, Mr. Spanswick told KGTV in San Diego, the family wants to learn whether DiMaggio was the children's biological father.

Beau Biden returns home

WASHINGTON -- Beau Biden, the vice president's eldest son and Delaware's attorney general, will return home to Delaware today after undergoing a "successful procedure" at a Houston hospital, the vice president's office said Wednesday.

Mr. Biden, 44, suffered "an episode of disorientation and weakness" while on vacation last week and has been undergoing medical tests at MD Anderson Cancer Center, but no further details were released. He had suffered a minor stroke in May 2010, but his neurological status was described by doctors afterward as being "perfect in all arenas."



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