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Robert R. Spillane, the superintendent of the Fairfax County, Va., schools, has been named the 1995 National Superintendent of the Year.

"Honestly, this is a surprise," Mr. Spillane said in an interview following the award ceremony Feb. 10 at the annual conference of the American Association of School Administrators in New Orleans. "The only one who believes I really deserve this is my mother."

Mr. Spillane, 60, has headed the district in suburban Washington--one of the nation's largest, with 224 schools and more than 140,000 students--since 1985. He said he believes schools need to "teach understanding, make learning more active, and integrate higher-order thinking into instruction."

"We can't fix families, we need to fix schools," he added.

The administrators' association will present a $10,000 scholarship in Mr. Spillane's name to a student at the high school from which he graduated, Windham High School in Willimantic, Conn. He also received a gold medallion and a $2,000 savings bond, among other awards.

Roger Barnes promised to quit his job as the superintendent of the Swanton, Ohio, school district if test scores didn't improve by 10 percent.

Under Ohio law, 9th graders must pass proficiency tests in math, reading, and writing. Although the latest results for Swanton students showed improvement, it was not enough.

With only an 8 percent increase, the superintendent made good on his promise last month and handed in his resignation. But school board members in the 1,822-student district, in a show of faith for Mr. Barnes, rejected his resignation.

"It is a vote of support for me and the programs I'm trying to implement," Mr. Barnes said last week. "I can still be effective."

Over the last three years, he has created intervention programs to boost test scores, and added review classes to build skills needed to pass the test.

The Exxon Corporation has elected Anthony W. Atkiss chairman of the board of trustees of the Exxon Education Foundation. Mr. Atkiss, the vice president of public affairs for the Exxon Corporation, succeeds Elliot R. Cattarulla, who has retired after 40 years of service.

--Adrienne D. Coles

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