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A Survey of State Initiatives

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Starting next fall, Vermont will offer forgivable loans to teacher candidates in mathematics, science, and computer science. A percentage of each loan will be waived for those who teach in Vermont's public schools.

The $50,000 loan program was passed in May by the legislature and signed by Gov. Richard A. Snelling. It is being administered by the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation. Under the program, according to Mary Ann Luciano, legislative liaison for the state department of education, teacher candidates could receive up to $2,000 each year.

The program was created in response to a statewide shortage of math and science teachers. In a survey, the education department found that 37 of the 60 local program directors reported having difficulty finding qualified math teachers, and 25 had difficulty finding science teachers. This year, Vermont's 13 teacher-education colleges expected to graduate only 10 candidates in math and four in science.

The state's teacher shortage also prompted the department to launch a teacher-placement service to help districts fill vacancies, and to advertise for qualified teachers out-of-state.

The Vermont Seminar on Education, through a series of meetings with local officials from business, industry, education, and government, is scheduled to issue a report in October on math and science education in the state. The seminar, which is being chaired by Lt. Gov. Peter Smith, is looking at high-school graduation requirements, curriculum and instructional development, teacher preparation and recruitment.

A. Perry Johnston, seminar director, said the group's recommendations could result in state-board policy or new legislation.

The Vermont Educational Computer Technology Organization (vector), a private group formed in 1982, is implementing a comprehensive computer-information service for school districts. Although the group was initially established to encourage the use of computers in the schools and to assist the schools in the selection of computer hardware and software, it is now attempting to offer inservice workshops for teachers and to conduct a statewide survey to determine the number of computers in the schools, according to George Tanner, science consultant for the department of education.

Mr. Tanner said vector is also working to establish a statewide computer network to enable educators to share information and trade software. He said the department of education has issued new regulations that now require teacher-preparation programs to provide teacher candidates with training in use of computers.

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