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A task force created jointly by the Massachusetts Department of Education and Board of Regents of Higher Education has called for a sweeping overhaul of the state's teacher-training programs.

The proposal, which must be approved by the legislature, would effectively abolish the undergraduate education major by requiring prospective teachers to major in the liberal arts or sciences. It would also establish partnerships between schools and colleges to give prospective teachers clinical experience, and provide opportunities for veteran teachers to serve as mentors.

The plan would change the "rigid and confused" system of certifying teachers to make it easier for older college graduates seeking career changes to enter the teaching profession, according to Terry C. Zoulas, a spokesman for the regents.

He said the plan's emphasis on clinical experience would also ease access into the profession for minorities.

The 35-member task force, which included representatives from public and private colleges, teachers, and business officials, is expected to submit its final report to the legislature in October.

High-level commissions have been named by the governors of three states to study the impact of recent boosts in education spending and to look for new ways to address such seemingly intractable problems as high dropout and teen-age pregnancy rates.

In California, Gov. George Deukmejian named several teachers and administrators to round out a 15-member panel charged with assessing whether state education funds are being efficiently spent and determining what new initiatives should be undertaken.

Meanwhile, the California Business Roundtable, a group composed of 88 top corporate leaders, has commissioned a study to address similar questions.

A 12-member task force appointed by Gov. William D. Schaefer of Maryland will have nearly two years to devise ways to measure and address the weaknesses of the state's schools. An interim report is scheduled to be delivered to the state board of education next May.

Teen-age pregnancy, suicide, substance abuse, and self-esteem are the primary issues to be be examined by a 27-member commission appointed by Iowa's Gov. Terry Branstad. The task force is scheduled to release its recommendations by the end of the year.

The South Carolina Board of Education has announced plans to pilot test an outcome-based school accreditation system this year.

Under the new system, which will be tested in at least one school, district office, or adult-education program in each of the state's 91 districts, individual schools will be evaluated according to their abili4ty to meet student-achievement, leadership, and management standards.

The schools also will continue to be judged on the basis of "quantitative" goals, such as student-teacher ratios and the number of books in their libraries.

State education officials began work on the pilot program in late 1985. If the test is successful, the department hopes to fully implement the new system by the 1989-90 school year.

State school aid in Illinois will continue to be disbursed by means of8the current formula under a bill signed by Gov. James R. Thompson last month.

The formula, which will be used to distribute $1.8 billion in aid this fiscal year, was set to expire on Aug. 1. A bill to create a new formula was derailed earlier this year after lawmakers failed to reach agreement on a related tax measure.

Gov. William D. Schaefer has invited Maryland communities to compete to become the site of a new residential high school emphasizing mathematics and science.

The school, like model specialized schools in Illinois, Louisiana, and North Carolina, will offer free room and board, and a full program of advanced courses to 400 to 800 students. It is expected to open in 1988.

The Oregon Board of Education has voted to require local school districts to report the names of high-school dropouts twice annually to the state education department.

"We want reliable and consistent information from across the state,'' said Verne A. Duncan, state superintendent of public instruction. "The system will put a face on the dropout problem by identifying the individual."

The new reporting system will betested in 38 of the state's 302 districts this school year prior to full implementation in 1988.

Oklahoma's school-finance system is likely to be a focus of debate during next year's legislative session, according to Speaker of the House Jim Barker.

Last month, Mr. Barker created a panel of 26 House members to study the state's property-tax system with an eye to assessing whether local governments should shoulder more fiscal responsibility for schools.

Officials estimate that the state now pays roughly two-thirds of the cost of public schooling, with districts paying one-third. The committee will present a report to the full legislature in January.

Vol. 07, Issue 01

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