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College Board Reorganizes To Increase Its Clout in School-Reform Movement

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NEW YORK--The College Board, one of the highest-profile national organizations studying issues related to the transition between high school and college, moved last week to become a more influential player in the school-reform movement.

At the board's annual national forum here last week, its president, Donald M. Stewart, announced that the board's trustees have restructured the organization in an attempt to increase its contributions in discussions on academic issues and education reform.

Until now, the 2,800-member board has been organized into two national assemblies--one representing high school guidance counselors and college-admissions officials; the other, financial-aid officers.

Under the restructuring, the board will add a third assembly--academic affairs.

Mr. Stewart said in an interview that the move will help the 92-year-old organization broaden its constituency base by bringing in middle school representatives and more community-college members.

"I think we've been incomplete,'' Mr. Stewart said. "Now, we're whole again.''

"The College Board is now inextricably involved and wants to be more involved in the education-reform movement,'' Mr. Stewart added. "I hope we're going to influence practice and policy.''

He also said he hopes the reorganization will spur members of the higher-education community to take a more active role in elementary and secondary education by establishing collaborations.

Getting People Talking

Also at the forum, Mr. Stewart announced that the board has received a $1.3 million grant from the Lilly Endowment to help make educational equity central to the board's mission.

Exactly how much money will be used for certain board programs has yet to be determined, he said.

Until recently, the College Board was best known for its development and administration of the Scholastic Achievement Test, a standardized multiple-choice test used to help determine a student's ability to succeed in college, and its College Scholarship Service, which processes financial-aid applications.

In recent years, however, the board has launched several programs aimed at gaining a greater influence in the academic arena. They include Pacesetter, a program to integrate standards, assessments, and testing at the secondary school level, and Equity 2000, a demonstration program in six urban school districts where 9th and 10th graders are required to take algebra and geometry.

Carol Barker, the secretary of the board, noted that the Pacesetter program, Equity 2000, and the reorganization put the board in a pivotal position to engage representatives from the three components involved in the school-to-college transition--faculty members, guidance and admissions officials, and financial-aid officers--in discussions related to reform and transition issues.

"We've gotten people talking together who haven't been talking,'' Ms. Barker said.

An Evolving Process

The board's structural change is the culmination of an evolving process, Ms. Barker said.

Three years ago, she noted, the trustees decided to appoint a committee to review the membership and governance of the board, and to adopt a goal that, by the end of the century, students from traditionally underrepresented groups will graduate at the same rate as traditional students.

Also at the forum, the membership elected D. Bruce Johnstone, the chancellor of the State University of New York, as chairman, and Thomas W. Payzant, the superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District, as vice chairman.

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