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The Educational Testing Service has won a $12-million grant to continue operating the National Assessment of Educational Progress through the end of 1993.

With the award, the E.T.S., which has operated the Congressionally mandated assessment program since 1983, will design and develop the 1994 assessment, which will test students in reading, mathematics, science, U.S. history, and geography. A later grant competition will select a contractor to administer the assessment.

The firm's proposal for the assessments is "ambitious,'' according to Ina V.S. Mullis, NAEP's deputy director. It calls for substantial performance-based components in all subjects, including a hands-on experiment in science, a special study of the use of graphing calculators in math, and a study of oral-reading proficiency.

Except for the special studies, the material the firm is developing for the 1994 assessment could be administered at the state level, if the Congress decides to extend the trial state-level îáåð, Ms. Mullis said.

House Democrats have once again postponed voting on a bill that would allow savings from cuts in defense spending to be used for domestic programs rather than deficit reduction.

Leaders of the majority party reportedly are having a difficult time gathering support for HR 3732, which is sponsored by Representative John Conyers, Democrat of Michigan.

Nearly all Republicans and many Democrats oppose the bill, and President Bush has promised to veto it.

The bill would disrupt the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990 by breaking down the spending barriers among defense, domestic, and international spending.

Currently, spending in each category cannot exceed a certain amount, and any savings in defense must be used to reduce the deficit.

Many supporters of domestic programs consider passage of HR 3732 a top priority. Under a fiscal year 1993 budget resolution passed by the House, education programs will receive an increase of $3.7 billion over fiscal 1992 if HR 3732 becomes law, but only a $1.7-billion increase if it does not.

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