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S.R.E.B. Proposes Goals For School Improvement

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The Southern Regional Education Board has proposed a set of educational-improvement goals for the year 2000 designed to circumvent what it calls "an unacceptable future" for Southern states.

The goals, which would include reducing the dropout rate by 50 percent, raising student-achievement levels to national averages or higher, and ensuring that all students are ready for the 1st grade, are contained in a new report by the board.

"If current situations prevail in the year 2000," the report states, "too few children will be ready for the 1st grade or will graduate from high school. Not enough minority students will complete high school and college, and too few citizens will have a college degree."

To reverse those trends, according to the report, "Goals for Education: Challenge 2000," the 15 Southern states that belong to the sreb must set targets for improvement and outline steps for meeting those targets.

"Simply put," it states, "the citizens of any state are not likely to achieve any more in education than they and their leaders expect and aim for."

As an illustration, the document notes that the high-school graduation rate in the member states rose by only 1 percent between the mid-1970's and the mid-1980's, despite widespread recognition of the importance of earning a high-school diploma.

This low rate of increase came about, it argues, because "virtually no state had either reliable information about how many students were dropping out of school or a specific goal to increase the number and percentage of high-school graduates."

The board's own proposed goals are "reasonable," according to Mark D. Musick, the sreb's vice presi4dent and director of state services and information. He said the organization would publish reports over the next few years outlining steps states have taken to achieve them.

"We'll be spotlighting what we see as initiatives that are particularly on track in terms of goal-setting," he said. "We will not point fingers" at states that have failed to make significant progress.

Other Goals

In addition to ensuring readiness and raising achievement and graduation levels, the board proposes that, by the year 2000:

Four out of five students entering college be ready to begin college-level work;

"Significant gains" be achieved in the mathematics, sciences, and communications competencies of vocational students;

The percentages of adults who have attended college and earned degrees be at national averages or higher;

All institutions that prepare teachers have effective teacher-education programs that place primary emphasis on the knowledge and performance of graduates;

Teacher salaries be "competitive in the marketplace" and be linked to peformance measures;

States maintain or increase the proportion of state tax dollars allocated to schools.

If such goals are met, said former Gov. Richard W. Riley of South Carolina, chairman of the sreb's commission for educational quality, "I don't think we can anticipate the exciting future the South will have."

Copies of the report are available for $5 each from the Southern Regional Education Board, 592 10th St., N.W., Atlanta, Ga. 30318-5790.--rr

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