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Membership in the National Congress of Parents and Teachers rose for the third consecutive year last year, reversing a 20-year pattern of decline, according to pleased pta officials.

The 200,000 new members added to the rolls over the past several years have swelled pta ranks to 5.6 million, the association reports.

"Parents today are taking an increased interest in their children's education and development," said Elaine Stienkemeyer, immediate past president of the group. "We're seeing a return to active parenting."

She and other parent-teacher leaders credit the activism to the current focus on school reform.

The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development is working on a five-year plan, approved last June by its executive council, that will focus the organization's activities on six major areas over the next few years.

These include: the education and care of young children; thinking skills; redefining the teaching profession; emerging knowledge of effective leadership and supervisory behavior; proficiency in mathematics and communication as tools for learning in a balanced curriculum; and technology and the content and process of education.

Officials are currently refining goals in each area for presentation to the board next year. For more information, call Gordon Cawelti, executive director, at (703) 549-9110.

Comings, goings, and changes:

The American Industrial Arts Association has a new name. It is now the International Technology Education Association, to reflect the group's new focus on meeting "the challenges involved in producing more technologically literate individuals in our society."

The National Community Education Association has moved. Its new address is: 119 North Payne St., Alexandria, Va. 22314; (703) 683-6232.

The Joint Council on Economic Education of New York City and the National Center for Economic Education of Cambridge, Mass., have merged their activities to strengthen the role they can jointly play in improving the economics curriculum in schools, say officials of the two groups.

Rural educators from 10 states have formed the Southern Rural Education Association to "establish a focus on the needs and concerns unique to rural education in the South," say its new bylaws. For more information, call or write Viola P. Miller, chairman of the department of special education at Murray State University, Murray, Ky. 42071-3310; (502) 762-2446.

The College Board has moved. The new quarters are at 45 Columbus Ave., New York, N.Y. 10023-6917; (212) 713-8000.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is about to relocate from New York City to Baltimore, Md. The new facility, which will be ready after the first of the year, will house the nation's first civil-rights library and archive, officials say.

The American Council on Education, the nation's largest association of colleges and universities, has changed its Washington, D.C., phone numbers. The new central number is (202) 939-9300. For a complete list of other staff exchanges, call the public-affairs office at (202) 939-9365.

A new organization, the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel, has been formed by 17 educational and student-exchange groups, including the National Association of Secondary School Principals, for the purpose of establishing standard criteria for assessing the quality of programs in the growing exchange field.

An estimated 500,000 students travel abroad each year under such programs, says nassp, and their numbers are growing because of such high-level boosters as President Reagan, who has established his own "Initiative on Youth Exchange."

The new council has set nine quality guidelines for exchange programs that cover the nature and purposes of the sponsoring organization, selection and placement standards, insurance coverage, financial profile, and willingness to be evaluated.

Thus far, 20 exchange programs have been approved. They are:

Academic Year in the USA, AYUSA International, San Francisco, Calif.; AFS International/Intercultural Programs, New York City; American Intercultural Student Exchange, La Jolla, Calif.; American Institute for Foreign Study, Greenwich, Conn.; Amigos de las Americas, Houston, Tex.; ASSE International Student Exchange Programs, Laguna Beach, Calif.; and the Educational Foundation for Foreign Study, Santa Barbara, Calif.

Also, the Experiment in International Living, Brattleboro, Vt.; High School Student Ambassador Program, Spokane, Wash.; International Christian Youth Exchange, New York City; International Education Forum, San Ramon, Calif.; International Studies Association and Bergen Community College, Paramus, N.J.; National Registration Center for Study Abroad, Milwaukee, Wisc.; Open Door Student Exchange, Valley Stream, N.Y.; Performing Arts Abroad, Kalamazoo, Mich.; School Exchange Service, Reston, Va.; Spanish Heritage, Forest Hills, N.Y.; World Experience, Hacienda Heights, Calif.; and Youth for Understanding, Washington, D.C.

For further information, write or call Douglas W. Hunt, chairman of the new council and associate executive director of nassp, at nassp, 1904 Association Dr., Reston, Va. 22091; (703) 860-0200.

The National Committee for Citizens in Education, a group for parents and other citizens interested in monitoring education, has launched a nationwide campaign to provide parents with better information about school-reform efforts.

The group is making data and documents available to all who are interested. For more information, call (800) NET-WORK.--mm

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