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Francie Alexander, a former deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Education Department, has joined the staff of the Edison Project.

Ms. Alexander is now the deputy director of curriculum for the project, an education-research effort now developing a national chain of for-profit, state-of-the-art schools.

The effort was launched by Christopher Whittle, the chairman of Whittle Communications in Knoxville, Tenn.

Before joining the Education Department's office of educational research and improvement, Ms. Alexander was the executive director of the National Council on Education Standards and Testing and the associate superintendent of public instruction for assessment in California.

Also joining the project as its director of instructional materials is Peter H. Kelman, a former corporate vice president of Scholastic Inc. Mr. Kelman, a former science teacher and teacher-educator, was the head of Scholastic's software division.

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