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After two days of discussion, the policy committee of the National Assessment of Educational Progress voted 19 to 2 last week to adopt a controversial new assessment program that will allow states and localities on a voluntary basis to compare the educational progress of their students with that of students in other states and localities.

"Some people on the committee thought it was a nice feature and others were not clear on whether it was a wise capability to facilitate," said Ina Mullis, associate director of naep, a Congressionally mandated and federally funded program that regularly surveys the educational attainments of 9-, 13-, and 17-year-old students. The assessments are administered by the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, N.J.

Currently, naep provides only a regional breakdown of test scores in comparison with the national standard set by the test, but officials are in the process of testing a pilot program, jointly sponsored by naep and the Southern Regional Education Board, that will allow participating states in the South to compare educational progress on a state-by-state basis. (See Education Week, Aug. 22, 1984.)

Of the 14 states that are members of the sreb, only three will participate in the pilot project.

Under the new assessment program adopted by the naep policy committee last week, participation in the expanded program is voluntary, as is the release of any information it will provide to states and localities about the progress of their students, Ms. Mullis said.

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