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A Survey of State Initiatives

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The Connecticut legislature approved a bill during its recent regular session authorizing state colleges and universities to use $3 million in unallocated bond funds for a loan-forgiveness program for teacher candidates in subject areas with teacher shortages.

The program will be administered by the board of regents for higher education; the funds will be distributed through a formula based on the percentage of certified graduates from each of the state's teacher-training institutions, according to Scott Brohinsky, assistant to the commissioner of education. Each year, the areas of shortage (officials say math and industrial arts are the most likely areas) will be determined by the state board of education.

Although the state does not now have a shortage of math teachers, department officials are concerned that positions are not being filled with the best-qualified teachers. In September 1982, 160 new math teachers were needed in the state, and of the 28 graduates from teacher colleges in the state, only 13 went into classroom teaching.

Under the loan program, teacher candidates would be eligible for loans of up to $5,000 during their junior and senior years of college. The loans would be reduced by 20 percent for each year spent teaching in the state. Those who do not teach within the state would have five years to repay the loan.

Mr. Brohinsky said several task forces of the state's Professional Development Council have been examining issues related to teachers, including preparation and training-program standards, competency testing, and salaries. He said the task force on certification is expected to make substantial recommendations on state certification standards in September.

The state department of education is now developing teacher-competency standards for candidates seeking state certification.

The department has also reviewed its high-school graduation requirements and will soon submit recommendations to the commissioner of education. Gov. William A. O'Neill signed a bill recently that establishes--for the first time--a minimum requirement for graduation. Only one district in the state does not meet the new 18-credit requirement.

Although there is no statewide effort to assist school districts to purchase computers, the state legislature did authorize $1 million this year through bond funds for the purchase of vocational-education equipment.

The state legislature deferred action on tax deductions for businesses that donate computer equipment to the schools. "To get any money for new programs is next to impossible now," Mr. Brohinsky said. "We're waiting to see what happens in Washington."

At the request of the legislature, the board of governors for higher education and the state board of education in May formed a joint committee to examine the use of computers, library and media resource materials, and instructional materials to enhance education. The joint committee is scheduled to issue a report offering recommendations on coordinating the delivery of educational services and the use of technology-based education later this year.

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