State News Roundup

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The West Virginia Board of Education has adopted a statewide policy requiring local officials to apply prescribed criteria in establishing evaluation procedures for all school employees.

The new evaluation policy is the first time the state has mandated criteria for evaluation procedures, according to Thomas McNeel, deputy superintendent of schools.

The board's advisory committee on personnel evaluation found that 10 of the state's 55 counties used the same basic evaluation instrument for all school employees, whether they were cooks, bus drivers, teachers, or administrators, Mr. McNeel said.

The new policy, he added, establishes performance standards for each job. Under the policy, probationary personnel are to be evaluated at least twice a year and tenured personnel, at least once a year.

The New Jersey Board of Education has adopted a resolution enel5lcouraging school officials to offer lessons about the Holocaust and about genocide in their regular high-school curricula.

According to Saul Cooperman, the state education commissioner, information about the mass killing of Jews by the Nazis in World War II is ''one of the most important things that can be taught to students today."

Gov. Thomas H. Kean said of the adoption of the resolution: "It is important for our young people to know what happened in the Nazi concentration camps and to make sure that such a thing never again occurs."

Few textbooks adequately address the topic, and only about 10 percent of New Jersey's 237 high-school districts have offered studies that treat it in detail, according to Paul B. Winkler, the director of the state education department's regional curriclum-services unit.

A gubernatorial advisory council established two years ago to strengthen Holocaust education in the schools has been extended to recommend programs for middle and elementary schools, Mr. Winkler said.

A bill introduced in the legislature this month that would alter Texas's new law mandating teacher-competency testing has met with mixed reactions from state teachers' groups.

Under the law passed last summer, all teachers in Texas will have to take a competency test by the summer of 1986 in order to keep their jobs. The one-time test is currently being developed by the state board of education.

According to Tom Duffy, a legislative assistant to State Senator John Sharp, author of the bill, the proposed modification would require only the testing of teachers who had been deemed "incompetent" by a team of evaluators. These teachers would take a two-part test, measuring their literacy skills and their skills in the subjects they teach. The proposed plan would allow teachers to use scores from tests such as the Graduate Record Examination and the National Teacher Examination to fulfill the literacy portion of the test.

Senator Sharp's plan would save the state between $17 million and $20 million, Mr. Duffy said.

"The Senator feels that the goal of the current law is good, but the method to accomplish the goal needs to be changed," he said. "Teachers should not be looked on as incompetent until proven competent, and one test alone should not be the basis for removing certification."

A spokesman for the Association of Texas Professional Educators said the organization worked with Senator Sharp on the bill and officially endorses it. Representatives of the Texas State Teachers Association and the Texas Federation of Teachers said their groups will not support the bill.

More than half of a representative group of California 8th-grade students who took a new state test performed well on economics and basic-skills questions but failed to identify Geraldine Ferraro as "the only woman in U.S. history who has been nominated for Vice President of the United States."

Results of the California Assessment Program test, which was taken last fall by 8,000 students in a variety of districts throughout the state, showed that, of the multiple-choice answers available to the students, 44 percent selected Ms. Ferraro as the only female Vice Presidential nominee. Twenty-two percent selected U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, 19 percent chose former California Congressman Yvonne Burke, and 15 percent chose San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein.

Under the test's "matrix-sampling" technique, all students were not asked to answer all questions, according to Dale C. Carlson, director of the testing program. About 300 pupils responded to the question on Ms. Ferraro, but the sample is considered to be representative.

Bill Honig, California's superintendent of public instruction, responded to the test's findings by urging state and local curriculum planners to work to "make the connection" between the "culture" of the adult world and that of the 8th-grade student.

Sixty-one percent of Maryland high-school students who took a new statewide citizenship test last spring failed.

A passing mark on the test, taken last year on a no-fault basis by 41,425 9th graders and 5,068 10th graders, will be required of entering freshmen in September for high-school graduation. The test is the latest addition to the state's "Project Basic," which includes functional tests in reading, mathematics, and writing; the program was initiated in 1977 by State Superintendent David W. Hornbeck.

According to the test results from last year's exam that were announced this month, only 39.2 percent of the students who took the test answered at least 31 of the 45 multiple-choice questions correctly--the minimum required to pass. The exam tests students in constitutional government and politics.

"I wish they were better, but they do not surprise me," Mr. Hornbeck said of the results. "They fall into something of a pattern that we have come to expect with the initial no-fault tests we have given. But I definitely believe that we will see an improvement," he said, noting that phase-in efforts for the other tests have resulted in improved scores on subsequent administrations of the tests.

The New Hampshire State Board of Education is working on an 11-point plan calling for salaries that would reflect the "market value" of a teacher's skills.

The plan, which has been sent to the education department, is based on the work of a task force of educators and business leaders that was estab-6lished by the board last July to consider ways to improve the state's schools.

The proposal would raise the salary for beginning teachers to a level competitive with entry-level salaries in other professions requiring college degrees, said James Masiello, president of the board.

Under the proposal, a teacher with a mathematics and science background might be able to command a higher salary than one with a background in English, he said.

The minimum starting salary for a teacher in New Hampshire is about $10,000, Mr. Masiello said.

The board voted last month to form another committee to "flesh out" the plan, which names no specific salary levels or funding requirement, and will submit a more detailed proposal in April, Mr. Masiello said.

As many as 3,000 deaf and hearing-impaired children in Kentucky may not be receiving the specialized instruction they need, according to a 12-month study released this month by the state's Commission on the Deaf and Hearing Impaired.

Demographic and statistical surveys of the state's 1983 school-age population indicate that out of an estimated 4,000 students with hearing problems, about 3,000 have not been identified as hearing-impaired or have been identified but have been placed in classes for the learning-disabled or mentally retarded, according to Jon Green, the researcher at Eastern Kentucky University who conducted the statistical analysis for the study. Mr. Green said the problem exists primarily in the rural areas of the state.

The report also notes that one-fifth of the 134 teachers who teach the hearing-impaired are not certified for that task.

During the next few months, the commission will work closely with officials of the state education de-partment to develop and implement model programs for teaching students with hearing problems.

Nearly 220 Michigan teachers, each wanting to be the first "teacher in space," this month attended meetings around the state to learn how to apply for the honor.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Teacher in Space Project was born last September when President Reagan announced that a teacher would be the first private citizen to venture into space aboard a space shuttle.

Deborah Clemmons, Michigan coordinator of the Teacher in Space Project, said seven regional meetings were held to inform interested teachers about the project, to clarify what is expected on the 15-page project application, and to speed up the application process. She is expecting about 700 applicants from Michigan.

Meetings were held in Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Marquette, Pontiac, and Traverse City. "Some teachers came as far as 150 miles to attend the meetings," said Bob Koehs, director of the Marquette meeting.

The Council of Chief State School Officers is directing the nationwide selection process. Applications must be submitted to the council by Feb. 1.

David W. Hornbeck, Maryland's superintendent of public instruction, has named a 20-member commission to recommend needed im-provements in the way the state prepares, licenses, develops, and evaluates principals, superintendents, and other school-based administrators.

The Maryland initiative is being launched to make the state's school-improvement effort more comprehensive, according to Joseph L. Shilling, deputy state superintendent.

"We looked at quality teaching, raised graduation standards, and established competency-based programs," Mr. Shilling said, "but felt that we were not paying much attention to the most important factor--the quality of leadership in the school building itself."

The commission, which met for the first time last week, will cost the state only about $3,000, but will serve as the advisory board of two projects.

The state will spend about $150,000 to train assessors at five or six administrator centers to be set up across the state by the end of next school year, Mr. Shilling said. The centers will be modeled after training and assessment centers sponsored by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

The state will also conduct research on the role and function of school-based administrators in an attempt to establish standards for licensing, staff development, and evaluation.

Vol. 04, Issue 18

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