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Federal File: Top secret; Selden's riposte

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Representatives of the education community attended a welcoming ceremony for Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev last week--but White House officials are not saying how many.

A spokesman for the National Association of State Boards of Education said its executive director, Gene Wilhoit, had been invited to the event on the White House lawn.

Mr. Wilhoit was told that at least one higher-education official had also been invited, and he spotted Thomas A. Shannon, executive director of the National School Boards Association, in the crowd.

When asked how many educators were invited, a White House spokesman first said that he could not release that information--a surprising repudiation of the policy of glasnost, given the nature of the event. The spokesman then backtracked, saying he could not locate a guest list.

Another spokesman later said that there was no comprehensive list.

"Different offices were given blocks of tickets," the second spokesman said. "We don't know who invited who."

The International Reading Association's recent position statement on the National Assessment of Educational Progress has infuriated some framers of the revamped assessment.

At its convention last month, the ira voted to oppose "the proliferation of school-by-school, district-by-district, state-by-state, and province-by-province comparison assessments" of students' reading skills.

The group cited the 1992 naep reading test--which will be the first to collect state-by-state achievement data in the subject--as an example of a test that "will not serve students well."

"The existing naep reading test can be considered flawed and regressive rather than future-oriented," said Alan Farstrup, director of the ira's division of research and development.

Ramsay W. Selden, director of the Council of Chief State School Officers' state education-assessment center, called the ira's statements "misinformation," and noted that the new test represents a substantial break from past assessments. Mr. Selden's center led a project that created the framework for the 1992 reading test.

Moreover, Mr. Selden said, the ira refused to participate in the effort to develop the blueprint for the new test.

"They had the opportunity to collaborate, but they absented themselves," Mr. Selden said. "Now that the work is done, they are implying by misinformation that it is unsatisfactory without looking at the situation."--jm & rr

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