State News Roundup

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The Connecticut Board of Education has approved a set of regulations that would, for the first time, require all teachers in the state to continue professional development in order to retain their certification.

The regulations, which will go into effect next July if approved by a committee of the legislature, would also establish an alternative-certification system to enable people to enter teaching from other careers.

"These are important regulations," said Gerald N. Tirozzi, the state's commissioner of education. "They will allow us to fully implement the broad-based program we have for improving the standards of the teaching profession."

The Connecticut Education Association, which generally supports the new rules, has filed suit to block a provision that would require teachers who already hold lifetime professional certification to earn new five-year certificates. The union charges that the permanent certificates are a property right that the state cannot take away.

Under the rules, teachers entering the profession would receive initial certification for one year. Upon completion of a teacher-support and assessment program, including in-class observations, teachers could receive provisional certification for three to eight years.

After amassing 30 teaching-related credits, teachers with provisional certification could earn professional certification. In a departure from current law, teachers would have to renew such certification every five years and earn at least nine continuing-education credits each time.

The regulations spell out provisions in the state's 1986 Education Enhancement Act, which authorized the new system. The law also provided state funds for districts that raised teacher salaries.

Members of the North Carolina Board of Education have criticized a decision by the University of North Carolina to delay for two years the implementation of higher admissions standards, saying the delay could undermine the credibility of high-school guidance counselors who have urged students to take tougher courses.

The new standards, which require students to pass 12 courses in core areas, were scheduled to take effect in 1988. But after a university survey found that nearly half of the state's high-school students were unaware of the stricter requirements, officials decided to delay using them until 1990.

Patricia Neal, a member of the state board, objected to the decision, however, citing a survey by the board that showed that a "vast majority" of students know about the requirements. Guidance counselors have been effectively preparing students, she said, and to delay the standards would call their advice into question.

Raymond Dawson, senior vice president for academic affairs at the university, said he did not think the decision would hurt guidance counselors. "The change was made by us and we'll take the rap for it," he said.

High-school seniors in Alaska are more disappointed with their education than at any time since an annual survey of seniors began in 1978, state education officials report.

The proportion of respondents who rated their education "poor" jumped to 23 percent last spring, after holding steady at approximately 9 percent for the first nine years of the survey, said Kerry Romesburg, director of the Alaska Postsecondary Education Committee, the agency that conducts the poll.

Compared with previous years, he added, a significantly higher proportion of the seniors surveyed said they did not plan to return to their economically depressed home state following graduation from an out-of-state college.

"What we're seeing is a reaction to the troubled economic times that we're in," Mr. Romesburg said. The once-booming state has been hurt by declining energy prices in recent years.

Kentucky's Pritchard Committee for Academic Excellence, terming the impact of the national school-reform movement "more regulation than inspiration," is looking for 5 to 10 blue-grass high schools to participate in a project to improve the quality of students' academic experience.

With support from the Kentucky Humanities Council, South Central Bell, and the state education department, the citizens' organization will work with participating schools to find new ways to "inspire, motivate, and re-awaken students to the vital and lively processes of learning."

Such experiments, the Pritchard group says, could involve self-paced learning, rearranged class schedules, and innovative teaching techniques initiated by teachers. "The point is to focus entirely on students, and not be limited by traditional organization, which has become convenient for management but not always constructive for students," says Stephen A. Henderson, the project's director.

Vol. 07, Issue 11

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