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Ariz. Ed. Groups Plan Reforms

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Education groups in Arizona that "influence the day-to-day activities in schools" are in the process of developing their own recommendations for achieving excellence.

The Arizona Education Convocation, which includes representatives from education schools, teachers' unions, the parent-teacher association, and the Arizona Department of Education issued a preliminary report last month that focused primarily on teacher compensation and training.

"The current system of compensation for teachers and administrators is woefully inadequate and in need of change," the report says.

It recommends increasing teachers' salaries to levels competitive with occupations requiring comparable preparation; extending teaching contracts to 12 months; and developing ways to reward good teachers, such as merit pay or a career-ladder plan.

The report also calls for improved teacher preparation. Prospective teachers should be required to demonstrate proficiency in the "basics," to gain as much teaching experience as possible before graduation, and to participate in a residency program during their first few years of teaching, it states.

The group will meet again in January, said Michael Kelley, coordinator for performance-based teacher certification at the state education department--cc

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