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New Members, Chairman Named to NAEP Board

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WASHINGTON--Despite fears that membership turnover may weaken the National Assessment Governing Board, the Education Department has for the second straight year declined to reappoint any of the board members whose terms are expiring.

In addition, the department last week named Richard A. Boyd, the former state superintendent of education in Mississippi, as chairman of the governing board until Sept. 30, 1991. Mr. Boyd will succeed Chester E. Finn Jr., who has chaired the NAGB since its inception in 1988.

The 23-member board, which is responsible for setting policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress, has at times clashed with Education Department officials and state and local educators over its proposals to expand NAEP.

State Representative Wilhelmina F. Delco of Texas, one of the eight board members who were not reappointed, charged that the membership changes were politically motivated moves that might curb the panel's effectiveness. The new members--a third of its composition--lack expertise on the complicated assessment issues the board must confront, she said.

"The Secretary of Education and President Bush made education a very strong part of the Bush Adminion program," said Ms. Delco, whom many observers had expected to be nominated as chairman. "They are interested in finding people agreeable to them."

Christopher T. Cross, assistant secretary of education for educational research and improvement, denied that the changes would weaken the board, and suggested that they were designed to provide an "infusion of new blood into the process."

"Of all advisory boards, the one you don't want to have captured by a few people is this one," Mr. Cross said.

Some observers familiar with the board said the new appointments may in fact strengthen the board in its relations with the Education Department and the Congress.

Ramsay W. Selden, director of the state education-assessment center at the Council of Chief State School Officers, noted that several memho were not reappointed had also served on NAEP's previous policymaking body, which had been named by the assessment's contractor, the Educational Testing Service.

"It was the intention of Congress to have the governing board make a clean break, and have a new structure," he said.

Moreover, added Gerald E. Sroufe, director of government and professional liaison for the American Educational Research Association, the change in leadership may prove an asset in the upcoming battle to reauthorize NAEP. The Congress and Mr. Finn have had a history of tension dating back to when Mr. Finn served as assistant secretary for educational research and improvement, Mr. Sroufe noted.

"I don't know if it's a sure win now," he said of the reauthorization battle. "But it would be a sure loss if they hadn't made the changes."

Mr. Finn said that, despite the changes in membership and leadership, the board was unlikely to shift from the course it has set for itself. Any differences, he predicted, are likely to be "in style, not in substance."

"The board has gelled," he said. "It knows what it thinks and wants."

He added that the board may call on its "alumni" for their expertise.

"We've not seen the last of anyone," Mr. Finn said.

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