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Education Department To Cite Outstanding Private Schools

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Washington--Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell last week announced a $370,000 grant to support a search for 50 exemplary private secondary schools.

The noncompetitive award was made to the Council for American Private Education (cape), an organization representing 15 private-school groups, as part of the Secretary's effort to recognize leading schools. The effort was initiated last year with a $270,000 program that led to the identification of 152 "outstanding" public secondary schools and a White House ceremony this fall in their honor.

The public-school program will be expanded this year, at a cost of $450,000, Secretary Bell also said last week.

Robert L. Smith, cape's executive director, said his organization will soon send letters to the some 7,000 schools eligible for consideration under the Exemplary Private School Recognition Project.

"This is not a project to identify 'the best schools'," Mr. Smith said, "Rather, we're trying to show the country that good education takes place in a variety of settings. I don't expect that only the Exeters [Phillips Exeter Academy in Massachusetts] will win this."

In order to be considered for the competition, a school must have students enrolled in grades 10 through 12, it must have been in operation since 1978, and it must be nonprofit and not involved in any court proceedings with the Internal Revenue Service regarding its tax-exempt status.

Development of Whole Student

Mr. Smith said "each school's emphasis on the development of the whole student--moral, ethical, and social development--will be given significant consideration" in the competition.

He said cape will ask the principal of participating schools to submit an application that will be screened by a panel of 14 respresentatives from cape's member groups. Teams of two panel members will make one-day visits to about 125 selected schools.The 50 winners will be announced next spring.

Mr. Smith said the federal grant will enable cape to transport evaluators to and from schools and meetings and to pay them honorariums of $100 for each day's work.

Schools in the public secondary-school recognition program will be nominated by chief state school officers; nominations will be due to the Education Department by Feb. 13, 1984.

The purpose of the program, Secretary Bell said last week, "is to call attention to schools that are outstandingly successful in meeting the needs of all their students."

The department will convene two, 18-member panels in Washington to review the nominated schools and conduct two-day visits to an as yet undetermined number of schools, that will be chosen according to their demographic characteristics; 14 "attributes of success," including "clear academic goals" and "rewards and incentives for teachers;" their "progress;" and seven "indicators of success," including student performance on standardized tests and student drop-out rates.

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