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A Survey of State Initiatives

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In North Dakota late last month, approximately 500 people gathered at the request of Gov. Allen I. Olsen to discuss the status of education in the state and to determine how well it prepares students for employment in new technological fields.

The participants--who included school officials, parents, businessmen, and legislators--heard a number of presentations about the increasingly technical nature of work in the state, a spokesman said. Then they met in small groups and formulated recommendations for the Olsen Administration.

According to Joseph Crawford, state superintendent of public instruction, last month's conference will "reinforce" recommendations and policy changes adopted by his department following last year's Governor's conference on education. Recommendations made after the earlier meeting resulted in the recent upgrading of high-school graduation requirements, Mr. Crawford said.

In late May, Mr. Crawford announced that next year's high-school freshman class will have to complete two units in math in order to graduate. Currently, students must complete one unit. The state's science requirement will remain at one unit in laboratory science.

In addition, Mr. Crawford, who is authorized by the state code to set "reasonable" graduation requirements, announced that the state will phase in new overall graduation requirements as well. Currently, students need only complete 17 units to graduate. Beginning next year, they will have to complete 18 units; the year after that, 19, and by 1986 the total will increase to 20.

Meanwhile, 25 teachers with certificates in areas other than math and science are participating in an intensive summer retraining program at North Dakota State University to prepare themselves to teach in those disciplines by the beginning of the upcoming school year.

Approximately 75 percent of the cost of the program is being borne by the state education department and the university, and the students are paying the balance.

Last year, the state's public colleges and universities produced a total of 15 math and science teachers, Mr. Crawford said.

According to Mr. Crawford, the state will face a shortage of approximately 25 to 50 math teachers next year. He said that approximately the same number of science teachers will be needed.

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