States News Roundup
Pennsylvania Sets New Requirements For Graduation
The Pennsylvania Board of Education has approved more stringent high-school-graduation requirements, but the requirements will not become final until they are published in the state's register, probably in February.
The new graduation requirements are the centerpiece of a two-and-a-half-year effort to rework the state's curriculum. Under the new standards, all students will be required to take three years of mathematics and science (up from one), four years of English (up from three), and two years of arts and humanities courses (not previously required).
In all, students would be required to earn a minimum of 21 credits for graduation, up from the current 13.
The requirements will go into effect in September 1985, and are expected to cost schools $40 million a year to implement.
Utah Board Approves Upgraded Standards For H.S. Graduation
The Utah State Board of Education, meeting earlier this month, approved upgraded high-school graduation standards that will double minimum requirements in mathematics and science and add another unit in social studies.
Beginning with the graduating class of 1988, students must complete 24 units of study, including 3 units each of English and social studies; 2 units each of mathematics, science, and "lifestyles and fitness"; 1.5 units of arts; 1 unit of vocational education; and a half-unit of computer studies. In addition, students must take a minimum of 9 units of elective courses, according to a spokesman for the board.
The board eliminated requirements that students complete one semester of school-supervised experience at work and in community service.
Calif. Schools Asked To Report Graduates' Success in College
The chairman of the California Senate Education Committee is seeking to require high schools to make public the annual reports they receive on the academic success rates of their graduates at the University of California and the California State University.
State Senator Gary Hart, in a letter to the Master Plan Committee of the California Board of Education, said he had found that although school districts receive information on their graduates' grades, "it is seldom shared with anyone in the district, at the school, or with the public at large."
"I think the information would act as a strong lever for high schools and their districts to review their programs if the public feels they are not meeting the [universities'] standards," he said.
The board committee voted to meet with Mr. Hart to discuss his proposal.
Henry Alder, the University of California mathematics professor who heads the committee and serves also as chairman of the university's Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools, said he would like to see "more effective use" of the grading reports.
"However, that doesn't necessarily imply they must be published in newspapers and become a political football," Mr. Adler said. "Publication doesn't, per se, improve academic preparation."
Wisconsin Officials Propose Higher Pay, Programs for Gifted
Wisconsin education officials, invited by the Republican Education Committee of the state Senate to discuss education reform, recommended higher salaries for teachers and programs for gifted students.
At two hearings held last month the senators listened to teachers, administrators, school-board members, and others discuss performance-pay and master-teacher proposals, among other issues.
"Master-teacher proposals were received very, very favorably and merit pay continues to be something people shy away from," said Earl Joseph Murray, a research analyst with the Senate committee.
Wisconsin teachers' salaries rank 18th in the nation, averaging $19,387 for 1981-82, according to figures from the National Education Association.
Beverly Kasprzak, a Green Bay school-board member, called for legislation to help gifted and talented students. "Wisconsin has an excellent educational system," she said, "but we are the last state in the union to provide gifted and talented education."
On the subject of the school calendar, "most people feel we should just make better use of the time we have," said one member of the legislative committee. Wisconsin requires students to attend school for 180 days of each year.
Some of the testimony offered during the hearings will be included in legislative proposals that will be presented to the legislature when it convenes at the end of the month, the legislator said.
Washington State To Conduct Study Of Home Education
The Washington State Board of Education is conducting an 18-month study to determine whether to revise state rules on home education.
The study, which will be carried out by staff members of two home-school centers and supervised by board officials, will use certified teachers to train and supervise parents as at-home tutors for K-8 students, according to Barbara Mertens, director of private education for the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Washington State has a compulsory-education law that requires all children ages 8 to 14 to attend private or public state-approved schools. The state law also requires that certified teachers be involved in children's education.
The idea for the project arose when a private school seeking state approval was found to be using state-certified teachers to supervise parents who taught their children at home. Rather than denying the school approval, the board decided to study the program's experimental design, Ms. Mertens said.
For the pilot project, the board selected the Center for Christian School Services of Mountlake Terrace and the Alliance of Family Centered Learning Alternatives of Arlington to "enroll" between 100 and 200 students.
To examine the effectiveness of the plan, board officials will conduct standardized tests, monitor and audit home-study sessions, review students' time logs, and assess grade-level equivalencies.
All of the parents involved in the project went through a selection process that included interviews. They were required to have a desire to become more involved in their children's education, to agree to commit their time to learning about teaching, and to have sufficient educational skills. "It's an attitude of 'I want to be involved in my child's education, I want the one-to-one contact, I want the family-centered values,"' Ms. Mertens said. A final report will be released next spring.
Vol. 03, Issue 17, Page 3