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Alaska Approves Higher StandardsFor Graduation

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The Alaska State Board of Education last week voted unanimously to raise graduation requirements for the state's 90,000 public-school students. The vote comes at a time when Harold Raynolds Jr., the commissioner of education, has called for an increased emphasis on academic excellence.

Alaska currently requires students to complete 19 credits for graduation; only five are specified by the board--one credit each in language arts, social studies, mathematics, science, and physical education.

In approving the new set of requirements, the board raised the number of mandatory courses to 21, including four units of language arts, three of social studies, two each of mathematics and science, and one of physical education or health, according to Rosemary Haggevig, assistant to the state board. The requirements are scheduled to go into effect next year.

Public Hearings

The state board also voted to hold public hearings on a proposal that would require Alaska's 53 public-school districts to develop their own curricula for each grade, according to Ms. Haggevig. Alaska currently has no mandated curricula for public schools.

The proposal would also direct districts to review their curricula every five years and to use nationally normed tests annually to measure students' progress in reading and mathematics, she said.

If the curriculum proposal is approved, a project now being planned by the state education department will help districts comply with the change, according to Richard Luther, director of the division of educational program support.

Under the Model Curriculum Development Project, teams within the department are working to draft model curricula in all subjects for grades K-12, according to Mr. Luther.

The teams will draw on curriculum guidelines used in other states and on suggestions from officials in Alaska's local school districts.

The models will be available to all districts to help them develop and evaluate their own curricula, according to Mr. Luther.

The curriculum models will be reviewed by professional teachers' associations and will be presented to the state board this summer, Mr. Luther said. Responses from the districts will be solicited in the 1984-85 school year, as will reactions from a variety of teachers, administrators, parents, and education-school faculty members.

Thus far, district leaders have responded positively to the development of the models, Mr. Luther said. "They feel it's something the department should be doing and that it will be very useful to them," he said.

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