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New Jersey Plans State Academy for Teaching and Management

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Trenton--New Jersey education officials have unveiled plans for a state institute that will help public-school teachers and principals improve their classroom and administrative skills.

The Academy for the Advancement of Teaching and Management will open next January with about 300 teachers from across the state,4Gov. Thomas H. Kean announced last week. Principals will be added to the program at a later date.

Teachers accepted by the academy, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, will be permitted by their districts to take short sabbaticals to attend the classes, officials said. The length of the courses will range from several days to several weeks, depending on the degree of difficulty of the program.8 [Last year, the Pittsburgh school system launched a similar training center for teachers in one of the district's schools. By providing substitutes to cover participants' classes, the program enables teachers to go through the nine-week off-campus inservice course on a full-time basis. (See Education Week, Dec. 8, 1982.)]

Most of the courses in the New Jersey program will be directed toward the mastery of a variety of basic teaching skills, said State Education Commissioner Saul Cooperman. Courses will be offered on such topics as how to manage a classroom, how to set realistic goals for students, and how to ask students questions that generate discussion.

"If we expect teachers to meet high standards, we've got to give them full recognition as professionals, and we should give full opportunities to develop their professional skills throughout their entire careers," Mr. Kean said.

Funding Allocated

The Governor has allocated $250,000 for the academy in his proposed 1985 budget, which has yet to be approved by the state legislature. The money would be used to pay the salaries of the academy's full-time director and staff of instructors. The site of the academy has not been selected.

Mr. Cooperman said the academy is needed because the existing inservice training programs offered by many school districts are not adequately exposing mid-career teachers to new teaching techniques. The commissioner said the inservice programs lack depth and do not provide follow-up instruction.

State officials expect to enroll about 300 teachers from 60 districts during the academy's first sixmonths. Teams of three to five teachers from each district will be selected on a competitive basis, and the teachers will pay a small tuition fee.

However, unlike many inservice programs and graduate schools, the academy will not offer graduate-level course credits. Most teacher contracts in New Jersey include higher salary increments for advanced degrees.

James P. Connerton, executive director of the New Jersey Education Association, which represents 117,000 school employees, said he approved of the academy but thought local bargaining units should ask districts to award teachers credit for participating in the academy.

The academy proposal is part of the educational "Blueprint for Reform" that Mr. Kean unveiled last September before a joint session of the legislature. Other proposals include a master-teacher program, and a plan that would allow prospective teachers to bypass college teacher-training programs and gain teaching licenses through one-year internships in the public schools. Those proposals are still awaiting action by the legislature.

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