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E.D. Launches Two Programs for State Reform in Math and Science

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WASHINGTON--The Education Department this month announced two initiatives to help states develop systemic reforms linked to national standards in mathematics and science.

Under one program, the department will provide $2.7 million in grants to states to develop curriculum frameworks, together with approaches to teacher education and certification, tied to "world class'' standards. Under the other, the department will provide $12 million to regional consortia that will offer technical assistance to states developing systemic reforms, as well as to disseminate exemplary math and science materials.

The programs are aimed at supporting systemic reforms without dictating what such reforms should look like, according to Paul A. Gagnon, the director of the Fund for the Improvement and Reform of Schools and Teaching, which is overseeing the programs.

"We're trying to connect everything, but leave the initiative to design curricula and teacher preparation with the states,'' he said. "National standards do not imply a national curriculum or a national test.''

The Congress is currently considering a proposal by the National Council on Education Standards and Testing to create a national body to oversee the development of national standards for student performance in key subjects and a national system of assessments tied to the standards.

Mr. Gagnon noted that, even though such an entity does not yet exist, states could rely on the math standards developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and science standards that are being developed by the National Academy of Sciences.

Complement N.S.F. Effort

Mr. Gagnon also said the new programs would complement a National Science Foundation program that provides grants to states to create systemic reforms. (See Education Week, May 13, 1992.)

The Education Department grantees are expected to work with the N.S.F. coordinator with each state, he said, adding that the agencies share "the notion of 'systemic,' meaning that states look at standards, curriculum, teacher education, and assessment all at the same time.''

In a related development, department officials last week announced that Eve M. Bither, Maine's commissioner of education, was named to head the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Program for Mathematics and Science Education, an arm of FIRST.

Ms. Bither, who was a member of the national standards council, will also coordinate teacher-education programs within the department's office of educational research and improvement.

Announcements for the two initiatives were published in the Federal Register on May 1 and 8. Comments on the state-grant program are due by June 1; comments on the consortia grants are due by June 8.

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