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N.C., Va. Consider School Reform

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State education authorities in North Carolina and Virginia have taken action recently on measures to raise academic standards in public schools.

In North Carolina, a task force appointed two years ago to study the quality of mathematics education has concluded that students should spend more time on the subject, classes should be smaller, and mathemathics teachers should be paid more money.

The panel's recommendations will be presented to the state board of education next month.

If approved by the board, they will be phased in over the next 10 years.

Miriam A. Leiva, chairman of the panel and associate professor of mathematics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said the proposals would emphasize problem-solving skills and and the use of calculators and computers in elementary school. The task force recommended a wide range of changes involving time on task, teacher certification and pay, and class size. The recommendations include:

Requiring 60 minutes of mathematics instruction daily in elementary schools and 55 minutes in middle schools, and increasing high-school graduation requirements in mathematics from two to three years.

Paying higher salaries to fully certified mathematics teachers and providing opportunities for outside activities such as college courses in the discipline.

Requiring elementary-school teachers to pass a competency examination in mathematics.

Requiring all secondary-school mathematics teachers to be certified in the field, beginning with the 1985-86 school year.

The package approved by the Virginia Board of Education has been under discussion for several months. (See Education Week, June 8, 1983.)

The change puts college-bound students on a more rigorous academic "track" than other students and increases the number of courses that students must take in basic subjects to graduate.

Under the plan, which will go into effect in the fall of 1984, all students will be required to complete at least 20 credits to graduate, and students who plan to attend college will need 22 credits.

All students are now required to complete a minimum of 18 credits. They must state by the 8th grade which program they intend to follow.

--Raymond Lowery and Charlie Euchner

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