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Kentucky and South Carolina Increase Graduation Standards

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Kentucky and South Carolina recently joined the growing number of states adopting more stringent graduation standards for high-school students, and Maryland is beginning a three-year assessment of its high-school programs.

These states, and others, are also developing programs to recognize outstanding students, tighten teacher-certification requirements, and strengthen school curricula.

By a vote of 7-to-2, the state board of education in Kentucky agreed this month to approve a policy establishing more stringent graduation requirements.

The state will raise the number of courses needed to earn a high-school diploma from 18 to 20. One additional course will be required in English and one in mathematics.

Kentucky will also require students to take two credits each in mathematics, science, and English in the freshman and sophomore years; require six hours of daily instructional time, excluding recesses and lunch period; and introduce a teacher-competency test and a monitored one-year internship as requirements for a teacher certification.

Kentucky will launch a special "Governor's School" for 200 outstanding high-school students this summer, says Donald B. Hunter, assistant superintendent for instruction in the Kentucky Department of Education. A committee of educators from the state will select students for the program who have been nominated by their schools. Those selected will not have to pay to participate in the state-funded program.

New Accreditation Plan

The state's efforts to enhance the quality of its schools also include a new school-accreditation plan, adopted last June. The plan will save money and provide "a better overall picture, so local school boards can correct deficiencies," according to Mr. Hunter.

The new accreditation efforts examine individual school districts instead of individual schools.

The state legislature has also established a loan program that will bring young mathematics and science teachers into the Kentucky schools. The loan program allows students to borrow during their college years and be forgiven $2,500 per year for every year they teach mathematics or science in Kentucky.

Kentucky was one of the first states to adopt a "loan-forgiveness" program, according to Mr. Hunter. He says 103 students have been aided by the program thus far.

Among recent developments in other states:

As part of the state's "Move to Quality" program, the state board of education in South Carolina this month voted to raise graduation requirements for all students and to provide an honors program for superior students in South Carolina public schools.

The number of courses needed to graduate from high school will rise to 20 credits, and all students in grades 9 through 12 will be required to take at least four courses for credit annually.

State standards now require only 18 units of credit for graduation, allowing many seniors to spend their final year in high school taking fewer than four courses.

The proposals have been sent to board committees that will work out specific plans for implementing them. Superintendent of Education Charlie G. Williams has also proposed a 41-point plan to "accelerate progress and improvements" in the schools.

That plan stresses early-intervention programs for students with academic difficulties and increases in teachers' salaries. (See Education Week, Feb. 9, 1983.)

In Maryland, the state board of education has requested that the state department of education initiate a three-year study of the nature and character of secondary education in the state's public schools.

The study will be led by an appointed panel that will assess "critical issues," including the establishment of new graduation requirements, revision of the curriculum, and the introduction of educational technology and experimental programs into the schools.

The group will "examine the phiy, programs, principles, and standards which provoke direction for the Maryland public high schools," according to a document from the department of education.

Leading the Maryland High School Project study is a 20-member panel of citizen representatives, superintendents, school-board members, a university official, a guidance counselor, and high-school principals and teachers.

A recommendation to the regents of the University of Wisconsin by a 16-member council urges that all college-bound students in the state pursue an academic program that includes four years of English, three years of mathematics, science, and social studies, and at least two years of a foreign language.

The council's report, Preparation for College, advises that "preparing well in high school broadens the choice of college majors and career opportunities available to students."

"The college years are also more productive and enjoyable for students who have the tools to work efficiently and without the need for remedial work that might add time and cost to their education."

The council was appointed by State Superintendent Herbert J. Grover and Robert M. O'Neil, president of the University of Wisconsin system.

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