A Survey of State Initiatives
Ohio expects to produce about 140 mathematics teachers and about 165 science teachers in the next four years, and expects about 100 openings in each of the two fields during that time. But state education officials believe that the state needs to train at least two teachers for every opening "because both are so highly employable outside of education," said G. Robert Bowers, assistant state superintendent.
The state board of education is working on a policy that would permit scientists and mathematicians from business and industry to teach advanced high-school courses. The state is willing to suspend certification rules for such individuals, Mr. Bowers said, provided that they have demonstrated ability to organize and present material, perhaps in part-time college teaching or in corporate inservice training.
The biennial budget now before the legislature would provide about $6 million to improve math and science education. Exactly how the money would be spent is still to be worked out, but Mr. Bowers said it probably would be targeted at students in the upper-elementary and junior-high grades. School districts and education schools would design programs to spark and sustain young adolescents' interest.
Several of the state's colleges and universities are offering summer institutes for elementary and secondary students in science, math, and computers. No state funds have been earmarked for such programs, but Mr. Bowers said the budget bill may include money for the institutes.
The state also is looking for ways to make advanced courses available in small and rural districts. "They're going to have to cooperate more, whether it's by setting up regional schools or sharing teachers or transporting students for part of the day," Mr. Bowers said.
The state's newly enacted minimum standards set graduation requirements of one year of science and two of math. The standards also "encourage" districts to provide computer instruction to students in grades 7 and 8, and require that every student be afforded the opportunity to learn typing or computer keyboarding. And each of the state universities has modified its admission policies to place greater emphasis on secondary-school science and math.
Two study groups are now at work on inquiries that will touch on science and technology. One, a statewide Commission on Excellence, is focusing on the state's human-resources needs in the 1990's and beyond. Its recommendations are due late this year. The second task force is studying ways to improve basic-skills instruction through technology and is developing guidelines for school districts to use in purchasing computer hardware and software.
Under a grant from the Sohio Foundation, Ohio will be one of three states field-testing middle-school instructional materials developed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.