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Maine Panel Recommends Master-Teacher Program

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After months of deliberation, the Commission on the Status of Education in Maine has issued a preliminary report recommending higher base pay for starting teachers and several changes in the state's teacher-certification standards, including the creation of a master-teacher status.

The commission's report recommends that the legislature appropriate $100,000 to test the master-teacher concept in a number of school districts.

But the most costly item in the report would be the increase in teacher salaries recommended by the panel.

Richard W. Redmond, deputy commissioner of education, said the commission report recommends raising the annual base pay for starting teachers from the current level of $10,600 to $15,000 by September 1985. He said that proposal alone would cost an estimated $38 million in the first year.

The need to raise teacher salaries, according to Mr. Redmond, who served on the panel, "was one recommendation we heard more often than any other statement" while conducting hearings throughout the state.

In their recommendation on the teacher-certification standards, Mr. Redmond said, the commission members are simply supporting the proposal approved last year by the Maine Board of Education.

Under the state board's three-tiered certification plan, starting teachers would be issued provisional certificates and would be eligible for professional certificates after two years.

During that two-year probationary period, teachers with provisional licenses would be required to undergo inservice training with master-level teachers, according to Mr. Redmond.

Although the master-teacher plan has not been fully developed, money to fund the pilot project has been included in Gov. Joseph E. Brennan's budget proposal for the biennium, according to David Cheever, the Governor's press secretary. "We're going to go ahead with the board's teacher-certification proposal," he said.

The Governor has proposed $257 million in state aid to education for the second year of the biennium. This year, the state is contributing about $240 million to the schools.

In June, Mr. Cheever said, the Governor plans to call a special session of the legisla-ture to consider education proposals. One of those proposals is likely to be the teacher-certification standards that establish a master-teacher system.

If approved by the legislature later this year, the proposed certification standards would go into effect in 1987.

Assessment Tests

In addition to the recommendations on teacher certification and salaries, the commission's report calls on the state department of education to develop and put into effect statewide assessment tests to determine students' progress throughout their school careers instead of "just at the end of them," Mr. Redmond said. The report, he said, does not specify at which grade levels the tests would be administered.

Mr. Redmond said the commission also recommended that Maine schools use non-teaching staff members rather than classroom teachers to perform noninstructional tasks.

So far, the commission has not taken up the issue of high-school graduation standards or the possibility of extending the school year. Those subjects may be included in the panel's final report, Mr. Redmond said.

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