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Shortages Spur State Progress in Math, Science

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Seventeen states have passed or are considering bills that would offer tuition subsidies or loans--generally with a "forgiveness" provision--to college students to encourage them to become mathematics and science teachers.

A telephone survey conducted by Education Week also showed an even greater number of proposals for the further training of mathematics and science teachers now in the classroom, or for the retraining of certified teachers in other disciplines who wish to gain certification in mathematics and science.

See page 14 for a summary of stateinitiatives in mathematics and science.

Many states are considering several such proposals at once--some in the form of legislation, others at this point only in the form of recommendations by governors, state boards of education, or other state education bodies.

In all, according to the survey of the 50 states, at least 32 states are considering--or have considered--methods to deal with an existing or expected shortage of mathematics and science teachers. The states are also looking into ways to improve mathematics and science education in general, including:

State support of "exemplary" mathematics and science programs.

Grants for "master" mathematics and science teachers who will be paid to help train other teachers.

Grants to bring business and industrial practitioners of science, mathematics, or technology into the schools to work with teachers and students.

Plans that allow school districts to waive state certification requirements in order to hire mathematics and science teachers from industry if there are no certified teacher applicants for the openings.

Scholarships to send gifted high-school students in mathematics and science to special summer programs offered at state colleges and universities.

Proposals to set up special high schools similar to the two-year-old North Carolina High School of Science and Mathematics.

Direct monetary awards to school districts for increased numbers of students enrolled in mathematics and science classes, and proposals to increase the amount of mathematics and science required in high schools.

Many of the proposals also involve establishing computer-literacy programs for both students and teachers. (Those initiatives were detailed in Education Week, Feb. 16, 1983.)

The fate of a number of the proposals is still uncertain. Officials in several states were not optimistic that the legislation would survive, given financial conditions in their states; some of the proposals have already failed to pass.

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