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A Survey of State Initiatives

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Iowa faces "critical shortages" of teachers in secondary mathematics, physics, and chemistry, according to Trevor Howe, director of education placement at Iowa State University.

Mr. Howe and Jack A. Gerlovich, consultant on science education in the state education department, have conducted teacher supply-and-demand surveys in Iowa public schools for the past 13 years.

For the fourth year, they have also conducted a national survey of supply and demand of math and science teachers. Mr. Howe estimated that the state's 27 teacher-training institutions now graduate only about 20 percent as many secondary math teachers as they did 10 years ago.

Last month, Gov. Terry Branstad signed into law a bill with several provisions to improve math and science education in the state, including:

A program through which the state will repay up to $1,000 per year (for up to six years) of the college loans of math and science teachers who teach in Iowa schools after graduation.

Teachers graduating after Jan. 1, 1983, in the areas of advanced algebra, chemistry, and physics, will be eligible, according to Max Miller, administrative assistant to Governor Branstad.

Iowa State University already has established an aid program, funded by an alumni organization, that offers four-year, full-tuition loans to as many as 20 Iowa students per year who enroll in the school's teacher-training program in the fields of math, chemistry, or physics. For each year that these students teach in Iowa following graduation, 25 percent of the loan will be forgiven.

The first group of participating students was chosen this summer.

Funding for loans of up to $1,000 a year ($1,500 in 1984) to Iowa teachers with certification in areas other than math and science who enroll in school on at least a half-time basis to be recertified in these areas.

The entire loan will be forgiven if the teacher spends two years teaching in math or science following recertification, Mr. Miller said.

Grants to districts of $25 in state school aid for every student enrolled in advanced math and science classes. (There will also be a one-time grant of $50 for students enrolled in first-year foreign-language courses.)

Financial bonuses (in the form of an increased factor in the state's school-aid formula) to school districts that share programs in "critical" math-science areas.

Most of these provisions will not take effect until 1985, at which time they are expected to cost $3.5 million per year.

In addition, the state department of education will receive $40,000 in 1984 and $140,000 in 1985 to distribute to local school districts for inservice training for existing math and science teachers.

$A 10,000 grant to plan a "computer software clearinghouse" that will be funded with $250,000 per year beginning in 1984.

According to Erik B. Eriksen of the curriculum division of the state education department, the clearinghouse will be a coordinated effort of a variety of educational agencies around the state that will acquire, catalogue, and distribute instructional software to local districts.

Mr. Eriksen estimates that every district now has at least one computer, and that more than 3,000 are being used statewide.

The Iowa board of regents and the state education department are reviewing admissions requirements at all three major state universities and will conclude that review within a year.

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