Fairfax County School Superintendent Robert R. Spillane has appointed eight citizens to a commission that will study his proposals for improving the quality of the nation's teachers at a time of impending shortage.

When Spillane took the Fairfax County job last July 1 (he had been superintendent of schools in Boston), he voiced his belief that his new school system should assume a national leadership position in education.

Spillane's proposals, delivered in a paper to a National Governors Association task force on teaching in New Jersey last month, are one attempt to assert that leadership. They include such concepts as hiring liberal arts graduates who do not have the usual required education courses to teach in public schools under the supervision of veteran public school teachers.

The students would be part of a one-year internship program.

Spillane also proposed creating rewards for good teachers through a merit pay system, which some faculty unions oppose because they say it is impossible to set up an objective standard to judge good teaching.

The superintendent also favors designating "master teachers" who would receive higher pay and prestige and would supervise newer faculty members.

Spillane also favors paying higher salaries to teachers of academic subjects than those who teach driver education or gym classes, and endorses entrance examinations for teachers in the specific subject they plan to teach.

The superintendent said the quality of the nation's future teachers is "one of the nation's most serious problems."

Students who say they plan to go into teaching have among the lowest scores on standardized tests of all college students.

The nation faces a teacher shortage just as a baby boomlet is reversing more than a decade of declining enrollment in the schools. Shortages are already appearing in high-demand areas such as math and science, and some estimates say 1 million teachers will be needed by 1990.

Among those appointed are three former members of the county School Board:

Lawyer Rodney F. Page, a former board chairman; Frank Alston, chairman of Price Waterhouse & Co.'s government contractor consulting service, and Gary L. Jones, former U.S. undersecretary of education and now executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.

Also named were Earle Williams, president, BDM International, Inc.; Marvin Cetron, president of Forecasting International Ltd.; Emily Feistritzer, director of the National Center for Education Information; Donna Caudill, president of the Fairfax Education Association, and Cathy Belter, president of the Virginia Congress of Parents and Teachers.

Spillane said the commission would furnish him with an independent report on his proposals.

No deadline has been set for the group to complete its work.