The 1,400-student school system of Manassas Park opens its doors with new resolve to tackle the problem of dropouts, to pay closer attention to the evaluation of teachers, and to ensure that instruction is tailored to individual student needs, according to Assistant Superintendent James W. Moyers Jr.

With the dropout rate hovering around 5 percent in this community of 7,100, school officials will be making special efforts to individualize student instruction, to make sure that administrators, particularly on the high school level, are nonconfrontational with students, and that alternatives to suspension are available when students break rules, Moyers said.

"You can't just catch the kid at the door and say, 'Don't drop out.' You have to start earlier than that," Moyers said.

Frank Parker, former assistant principal at Manassas Park High School, has been named principal at the school, and Del Chastain, a high school principal in Boon Grove, Ind., will be assistant principal.

Beginning this year, all teachers in the system will be evaluated annually, according to Moyers. In August, workshops on the evaluation process were held for principals and other administrators. Teachers will attend workshops on making instruction more effective.

Raising standardized test scores will again be a priority in Manassas Park. Last year, 89.8 percent of the city's 10th graders passed the state's basic skills examination in reading and mathematics, a proportion substantially lower than the 96.6 percent who passed the test statewide.

Composite scores in tests developed by Science Research Associates fell in five of the grade levels tested, rose in five, and were unchanged in one.