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Members of both the House and the Senate have proposed legislation that would create a $2-billion youth-employment program designed to encourage potential high-school dropouts to stay in school.

The proposed bill, "the youth incentive employment act," would provide employment opportunities for unemployed and economically disadvantaged teen-agers between the ages of 16 and 19. Under the terms of the bill, about 1 million youths would be hired in the summer and during the school year to perform duties in public and private agencies.

The program would be administered in the states by the local private-industry councils that are being established to coordinate training programs under the Job Training Partnership Act, according to a spokesman for Representa-tive Augustus F. Hawkins, Democrat of California, who sponsored HR 5017, along with 53 other representatives.

A similar bill, S2397, has been introduced by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts.

High-school seniors who have maintained at least a B+ cumulative grade-point average, have scored high on standardized tests, and have taken courses in the "New Basics" will be eligible to receive "academic fitness awards" from President Reagan this spring, Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell announced earlier this month.

The awards, modeled after the physical-fitness and sports awards program created by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966, were announced by Mr. Reagan last December during the National Forum on Excellence in Education.

In letters to school superintendents and principals, Mr. Bell said the Education Department hopes "that this new program will do as much to promote academic achievement as the physical-fitness awards program has done for physical fitness and sports."

The awards will be made this spring to graduating seniors in public and private high schools that have elected to participate in the program, the Secretary explained. School principals, who must obtain the approval of their district superintendent or school board to participate, have been asked to notify the department by April 20 of the number of students selected for the awards.

The minimum critera for awards to graduating seniors are:

At least a B+ cumulative grade-point average for grades 9, 10, 11, and the first semester of grade 12.

A score placing the candidates at the 80th percentile or higher on any nationally recognized standard achievement test battery or college-admissions examination.

Completion by graduation time of at least 12 course units in English, mathematics, social studies, foreign languages, and computer science. These courses were labeled the "New Basics" in the April 1983 report by the National Commission on Excellence in Education.

Seeking to improve teacher-education programs, a group of officials from education schools has approved a plan that will result in a set of standards for such programs.

The group, meeting for the second time in Racine, Wis., agreed on four key areas of preparation: faculty, students, curriculum, and institutional quality. The development of the standards is expected to take one year.

In its considerations, the officials will also examine issues such as equity, the needs of minority students, and the relationships between teacher-preparation programs and with elementary and secondary education.

The group also expressed strong support for the career-ladder concept, similar to the plan recently approved by the Tennessee legislature.

Vol. 03, Issue 26

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