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Published in Print: September 18, 1991, as Capital Digest

Capital Digest

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A top Education Department official last week fffirmed that the Administration does not seek to turn the National Assessment of Educational Progress into its proposed American Achievement Tests.

Speaking to a group of reporters, Diane S. Ravitch, assistant secretary for educational research and improvement, said that @A@P'S current method of testing a sample of students provides useful information about trends in student performance, and must be kept intact.

"NAEP must remain a national yardstick," she said.

Some educators and testing experts had warned against expanding NA@P to test individual students, noting that it would lose its value as a barometer of student achievement.

In other remarks, Ms. Ravitch said the Administration would ask the Congress to fund the development of the proposed national assessment system, but she noted that its cost would depend on how it is structured. The National Council on Educational Standards and Testing, a Congressionally authorized panel, is currently considering the process for creating the new system.

The council has agreed that the first tests--in reading, writing, and mathematics in grade 4--should be in place by the spring of 1994.

E.D. Issues Guide On School Readiness

The Education Department has issued a guide offering advice to states, communities, teachers, and parents on how to ensure children's readiness for school.

The 24-page booklet offers "g@ideposts"to achieving the first of six national education goals set by the President and the nation's governors, which is to ensure that by the year 2000, all chil&en start school ready to learn.

The guide offers strategies for ensuring that disadvantaged children have access to high-quality preschools.

It also suggests ways to offer parents training and support to foster their children's learning, and to provide children adequate nutrition and health care "to arrive at school with healthy minds and bodies."

It urges states and localities to coordinate community and agency resources; tap federal funding sources geared toward young children, such as the child-care block grant, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Head Start, and Even Start; and build better linkages among parents, preschools, and elementary schools.

The booklet also calls for early and expanded screening to identify developmental problems; assessments favoring teacher and parent observation over standardized tests; and "developmentally appropriate" learning environments.

Suggestions for parents include reading and conversing with children, discussing values, becoming involved in their schooling, and promoting "healthy lifestyles."

The booklet also outlines steps caregivers, schools, and employers should take to support and involve parents in children's learning.

Copies of "Preparing Young Children for Success: Guideposts for Achieving Our First National Education Goal," are available free of charge from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Education Department, 400 Maryland Ave., S.W. Room 2189, Washington, D.C. 20202-6100.


President Bush last week nominated Carolynn Reid-Wallace, the vice chancellor of academic affairs at the City University of New York, to be the Education Department's assistant secretary for postsecondary education.

Ms. Reid-Wallace would succeed Leonard L. Haynes 3rd, who left the department earlier this year. Michael J. Farfell has been serving as acting assistant secretary for postsecondary education.

The Office of Postsecondary Education has been under close scrutiny during the past year as a result of high default rates on student loans and the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Ms. Reid-Wallace has been at cvr@Y for four years. She also has held positions at the National Endowment of the Humanities, the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, and Bowie State University.


A former Vietnamese refugee has been named deputy director of the Education Department's Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs.

Nguyen Ngoc Bich, who most recently served as a coordinator of multicultural programs in the Arlington County, Va., public schools, has been named to succeed Esther Lee Yao, a native of China.

Ms. Yao resigned late last month to seek the Republican nomination for a Houston-area seat in the U.S. House.

She had won praise as a champion of Asian-American interests within the department. ('See Education Week, Feb. 27, 1991 .)

Before joining the Arlington schools, Mr. Bich was a teacher trainer at Georgetown University.

He came to the United States as a refugee in/975 after serving as acting chancellor of the Mekong University in Saigon.


Wilbert LeMelle, former U.S. Ambassador to Kenya and the Seychelles, last week was named chairman of a new commission on the education of African Americans.

The 100-member National Commission on African-American Education was formed by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Braintrust earlier this year to suggest alternatives to the education reforms championed by the Bush Administration.

Mr. LeMelle is president of the New York-based Phelps Stokes Fund, a foundation that works to improve educational opportunities for minorities and the poor.

Vol. 11, Issue 03, Page 1

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