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In an effort to "contribute to an informed view of elementary schools and to improve elementary education," educators from both private and public schools in New England have formed the Elementary School Study Group.

The group's first project, according to Allan Shedlin Jr., founder of the essg and former principal of the Midtown Ethical Culture School in New York City, will be to conduct a national study of elementary schools.

"After the family, the elementary school is the most important institution in a child's life," Mr. Shedlin said. "Between pre-kindergarten and 8th grade, a child attends school for more than 9,000 hours--more than twice the time spent in high school and more than the time spent in high school and college combined."

The essg, based in Weston, Conn., will issue periodic reports and disseminate its findings with as wide a distribution as possible to teachers, administrators, school board members, parents, and students of education, Mr. Shedlin said.

The study group will be funded by individuals, foundations, and corporations, he added.

The governing boards of independent schools can significantly affect teacher effectiveness--the most important single factor in learning--according to a report issued recently by the National Association of Independent Schools.

Boards must include on their agendas, in addition to concern for faculty salaries and financial status, a discussion of issues central to school climate and professional motivation, writes Milbrey McLaughlin, author of the report and associate professor of education at Stanford University.

Ms. McLaughlin's report is based on a national survey that she conducted recently of teacher-evaluation practices.

"Boards can and must address the incentives associated with job satisfaction and move away from traditionally dwelling on issues associated with job dissatisfaction," she writes.

To obtain a copy of the report, write or call Anne Rosenfeld, nais, 18 Tremont St., Boston, Mass. 02108; (617) 723-6900.

A program to provide students in the 7th and 8th grades with an opportunity to participate in after-school "rap sessions" has been developed by Roman Catholic educators in the Brooklyn Diocese.

A concern for students who leave school to "hang out" on the streets or watch soap operas spurred educators to develop the Program for Human Potential, said Sister Theresa Murtha, who conducts the sessions.

"A sense of peer support emerges as group members realize their similarities and begin to help one another solve problems," Sister Murtha said.

For further information about the program, write: the Program for Human Potential, 60-25 Sixth Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11220.--cc

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