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Federal File: Tangling over turf on testing?

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Two members of the House Education and Labor Committee may be engaged in a quiet turf battle.

Some committee aides say Representatives Major R. Owens of New York and Dale E. Kildee of Michigan, both Democrats, are each claiming jurisdiction over the currently hot issue of educational testing and assessment for their respective subcommittees.

Other aides say there is an amicable agreement to share jurisdiction.

Mr. Kildee's Subcommittee on Elementary, Secondary, and Vocational Education recently held a series of hearings on national tests.

Mr. Owens said at one of those hearings that he intends to examine the issue when his Subcommittee on Select Education takes up the reauthorization of the office of educational research and improvement during the next year.

The panel Mr. Kildee heads has always overseen the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the National Center for Education Statistics, an arrangement that predates

the creation of the o.e.r.i. in 1985.

But the National Institute of Education, whose functions were folded into new offices within the o.e.r.i., was created by the select education panel.

Select education handled the legislation establishing the o.e.r.i.

But 1988 legislation that reauthorized naep and altered the structure of the n.c.e.s.--which is a partially independent unit within the o.e.r.i.--was handled by the elementary-and-secondary-education panel.

Committee rules that carve up subcommittee turf specifically give select education jurisdiction over the o.e.r.i., but do not specifically mention statistics or testing.

Those rules were altered this year, apparently to placate members who assumed the chairmanship of new subcommittees.

Representative Pat Williams, Democrat of Montana, was allowed to take with him jurisdiction over library and museum programs, the Taft Institute, and the Institute for Peace when he switched from postsecondary education to labor-management relations.

Mr. Kildee's committee was given jurisdiction over preschool programs and the Follow-Through program, which had been overseen by the human-resources panel that he chaired last session. That panel retains jurisdiction over Head Start, however.

"No, it doesn't make any sense," one committee aide said. "It doesn't have to."--jm

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