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Panel Opposes Center on Teacher Quality

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Washington--A study group formed last month by the Education Department's top research official has advised him not to initiate a new competition for a multi-million dollar research center devoted to issues of teacher quality and effectiveness, an aide to the official said last week.

According to Ronald P. Preston, deputy assistant secretary for educational research and improvement, members of the group "were not sanguine" about reviving the competition for the research center. They suggested instead that the department use the funds for a number of smaller program grants on the topic. Mr. Preston noted that department officials have not made a final decision on the subject and may meet again with the group of researchers, academicians, and educators at a later date.

New Centers

The group, formed by Assistant Secretary Chester E. Finn Jr. in late November, made its recommendations during meetings with department officials here on Dec. 18 and 19. Mr. Finn announced the group's formation after he disclosed during a press conference that he would not award an estimated $4-million, fiveyear grant for a center on teacher quality because none of the grant proposals received by his office were satisfactory.

At the Nov. 27 press conference, Mr. Finn said the department would ''reserve substantial resources for research into teachers and teaching" and would publicize "a comprehensive program of research" on the topic by early this year. (See Education Week, Dec. 4, 1985.)

At the same time, Mr. Finn announced the winners of 10 other grants totaling just under $50 million over five years for the remainder of the agency's research and development centers. The new centers replace a system of centers whose initial grants and contracts were awarded in the early 1960's.

Since then, however, department officials have confirmed that universities that did not operate any of the earlier centers and effectively will be starting their operations from scratch this month will have their first-year grant amounts reduced.

The officials say the reduced grant amounts reflect the lower costs associated with first-year planning activities, as compared with the higher costs associated with actual research.--tm

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