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News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup

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Wis. Debating Teacher Standards

Wisconsin officials are debating ways to improve the quality of teaching in their public schools.

An Education Week report released this month that examined how rigorously states evaluate and nurture teachers ranked Wisconsin in last place.

In his state of the state address last week, Republican Gov. Tommy G. Thompson said he disagreed with the low ranking.

He proposed, however, that the state help pay for teachers to take the tests given by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and give $3,000 to those who pass.

Only one of Wisconsin's 55,000 teachers is nationally certified.

Mr. Thompson's fellow Republican, Lt. Gov. Scott McCallum, meanwhile, is suggesting that each of Wisconsin's 427 school districts create apprenticeships for new teachers.

The apprentices would receive state certification after completing a district-run training program that would include pairing them with experienced teachers.

Also in the works is a bill that would create a panel to advise state leaders on teacher standards.

The proposed legislation would allow the state schools superintendent, John T. Benson, to appoint 19 teachers, administrators, and professors to the panel. That measure passed the Senate on Jan. 13 and is headed for debate in the Assembly.

Carper Unveils Accountability Plan

Hoping to stifle so-called social promotions, Delaware Gov. Thomas R. Carper last week announced plans to further accountability for the state's students and schools.

He also discouraged the use of state takeovers of failing schools, but said that the legislature should allow more successful districts to assume responsibility for school and districtwide reform.

Gov. Carper's plan would direct the state department of education to set performance levels for students on state assessments in English/language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.

Students with high scores would be recognized with awards or college scholarships.

In addition, the initiative would target skill levels that should be attained by specific grade levels.

Students with seriously deficient reading skills would be held back in grades 3, 5, 8, or 10.

Students who did not show proficiency in English/language arts and math by the end of 8th grade would also be retained.

Mr. Carper announced his plan two days before his State of the State Address, along with the state's secretary of education, Iris Metts.

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