A Survey of State Initiatives
In Oregon, a bill that would begin a study of the feasibility of a special mathematics and science high school was sent to the ways and means committee of the state House without recommendation and will probably not pass, according to a spokesman for the House education committee.
The bill was introduced in the House as part of a legislative package that also called for the establishment of a "Council for Science and Mathematics," which would study math and science education in the state.
This bill has been defeated in committee. During hearings on the bill, officials from the state education department said they were already doing everything that such a group would be charged to do.
Opponents of the proposal for a special math and science high school have argued about where the school would be located, and have suggested that a better solution might be to "improve math and science in all schools," according to a spokesman for the House education committee.
To that end, the legislature has asked the state's Educational Coordinating Commission (ecc) to study the mathematics and science problem and to report possible solutions to the Governor and the legislature by the end of November 1984.
According to T.K. Olsen, director of the ecc, the commission will look at what other states, school districts, and private schools are doing, and will continue to examine the concept of magnet schools for math and science students.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Verne A. Duncan has organized a separate Superintendent's Advisory Committee on Mathematics and Science, which includes three members each from the fields of math and science.
This committee met for the first time last month to study a range of math and science issues, including student enrollments, achievement, and supply and demand of teachers. It is supposed to report in late October.
The Oregon Mathematics Education Council--a group of 28 math educators and citizens from business and industry formed two years ago by the state board of higher education--recommended that the state raise college entrance requirements to three years of mathematics and two years of science. The recommendations have been adopted and will be effective in all state institutions in fall of 1985, with possible exemptions for the first few years, according to Don Fineran, math specialist for the state board of education.
A state department of education survey conducted this spring found that, of 427 responding elementary and secondary teachers who teach at least one math class, 111 have only an elementary-level teaching certificate.
Only 57 of the 427 have a math endorsement from the state's Teacher Standards and Practices Commission--a group made up of a variety of educators who are appointed by the Governor. An endorsement from the commission requires 23 credit-hours of math instruction.
The survey, which is made annually, indicates that the number of elementary teachers (K-8) assigned to teach math or science at least half time without certification remained stable from 1975 to 1979. In the 1980-81 school year, however, the number jumped from 227 teachers to 245.
Mr. Fineran attributed the increase in the number of noncertified math teachers to an increased number of middle schools in the state.