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Kansas Advances Plan To Improve Teacher Quality

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Kansas has become the seventh state within two months to take steps toward implementing "accountability" standards for teachers.

The recommendations sent by the Kansas board of education last week to Gov. John Carlin are similar to those that have been considered in states across the country as they have moved to respond to a public perception of widespread incompetence among the nation's teachers.

'Knowledge and Competence'

Three general proposals were made in the "issue paper" written at the request of the Governor by the Kansas board to suggest ways of assuring the "knowledge and competence" of the state's teachers. They recommend that:

All applicants for teacher certificates in Kansas be required to pass an examination that would test the teacher candidates' knowledge of their subject area as well as ensure that they possess minimum basic skills in mathematics, writing, and reading.

(Last year, the state board of education unsuccessfully sought an appropriation from the state legislature to develop a competency examination. To date, 19 states require skills tests for certification. And 14 require them for admission to teacher-education programs.)

All new teachers complete one year of probationary work in a school district under the supervision of a master teacher, an administrator, and an education-school official before they are certified. The three-person supervisory group would decide whether to recommend a teacher for certification.

A comprehensive, state-run professional-development program be established for practicing teachers. The program would include training in subject-area work and in pedagogical skills.

The state board of education has asked the legislature in each of the last four years to pass a law establishing a statewide professional-development system that would be linked to a mandatory recertification program. Each time, the legislature has failed to consider the legislation, according to Kathleen A. Homlish, director of certification and in-service training for the Kansas state department of education.

Ms. Homlish, who led the drafting of the "issue paper," said she was not sure what action Governor Carlin would take on it, or when.

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