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Michigan Plan Said To Bring School Improvement

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One year after the release of the state board's report, "Better Education for Michigan Citizens: A Blueprint for Action," school districts across the state have instituted tougher graduation requirements; added more class time; implemented tighter attendance, disciplinary, and homework procedures; and made other efforts to upgrade their educational performance, according to a draft report Mr. Runkel presented to the board last week.

'Schools Are Better'

"I think schools are better," the state chief said. "There is more urgency, more of a sense of mission among the people teaching and the administrators."

Among the improvements cited by the report:

65 percent of the state's 528 school districts now require at least two years of mathematics for high-school graduation, compared with the 41 percent cited in a 1983 report by the Michigan Commission on High Schools.

53 percent of the districts now require at least two years of science, compared with 32 percent in 1983.

32 percent require four years of language arts, compared with 25 percent in 1983.

53 percent require at least three years of social studies, compared with 31 percent a year ago.

15 percent require at least a semester of computer science, compared with a virtual absence of such required courses in 1983.

98 percent of the state's high schools offer at least six class periods daily, compared with 84 percent in 1983.

State education officials, reacting to the superintendent's report, said they had been able to make the improvements cited because of increased state-aid appropriations.

Increases in Aid

"I have to credit an awful lot to the governor and the legislature, who over the past two years have made a real commitment to increasing funding, allowing districts to restore programs that had been dismantled, and putting the districts in a little better position to make improvements," said Larry Chunovich, president of the Michigan Education Association.

However, John Elliott, president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, noted that while the state is moving in the right direction, it is "premature" to declare the "Blueprint for Action" a success.

"I'm not aware of any surveys that prove decisively that improvements have taken place," Mr. Elliott said. "I think it's too soon. Let's have a reasonable period of time before we start declaring success."

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