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Book sales in 1984 increased by 6.2 percent over sales in 1983, according to figures released by the Association of American Publishers. Total sales exceeded $9.1 billion.

The highest percentage increases were reported in the following categories: audiovisual and other media (22.4 percent, to $175 million), elementary and secondary textbooks (14 percent, to $1.3 billion), standardized tests (7.8 percent, to $85.8 million), and university-press books (7.2 percent, to $139.9 million).

In addition, trade-book sales increased by 6.3 percent (to $1.7 billion), and sales of subscription and reference books grew by 5 percent (to $465.2 million), according to the association.

Ronald P. Carver, professor of educational research and psychology at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, has charged that the College Board's "Degrees of Reading Power" (drp) test--which purports to match students' reading ability with appropriate instructional materials--is invalid and should be recalled.

The drp test, developed in 1969 and first adopted in 1982 by the Boston Public Schools, measures students' individual reading abilities in drp units, according to the College Board. After the tests have been scored, teachers may choose for their students books whose "readability" has been calculated on the same drp scale, the board says.

The board charges clients, including school districts and publishers, from $88 to $441 to analyze a book's readability; to date, it has analyzed 3,000 texts according to the drp model.

After conducting what he terms "extensive" research, Mr. Carver concluded that the test appears to have "large internal inconsistencies that render it invalid as a method for teachers and school personnel to use when forecasting which textbooks to select for students varying in reading ability."

Furthermore, the researcher argues, attempts to match students' drp-ability scores to the drp-difficulty scores of instructional materials are "likely to result in inappropriate selections of textbooks or other instructional materials."

Mr. Carver said that he has notified the College Board of his findings but that no changes have been made to the test.

Stephen H. Ivens, executive director of the drp program, responded to Mr. Carver's charges by noting that "if you interpret [the scores] the way he does, it does lead to illogical results." The board, he said, does not use the test in the way Mr. Carver claims. Furthermore, according to Mr. Ivens, Mr. Carver is the author and publisher of four competing reading tests.

Mr. Ivens also noted that an independent review panel studying Mr. Carver's charges had not agreed with his findings.

Britannica Learning Corporation, a division of Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., has acquired American Learning Corporation, which provides private, individualized instruction in reading and preparation for the Scholastic Aptitude Test.

Robert P. Gwinn, chairman of the board of Britannica, said in a prepared statement that he intends to "rapidly expand" alc's scope by establishing learning centers throughout the United States by 1990.

"We see a tremendous need throughout the country for private learning centers, particularly those that can improve read-ing skills as dramatically as the alc program has demonstrated," said Stanley D. Frank, president of Britannica Learning Corporation.

Britannica will assume responsibility for "The Reading Game," an alc program that provides basic reading instruction in small-group sessions. The program has been selected by the National Institute of Education and National Right to Read as "effective in improving reading achievement," according to the firm.

A new catalog published by Chevron U.S.A. Inc. offers teachers and students an overview of the firm's educational programs across the country--from films and brochures to field trips and videotaped concerts.

Called "Chevron and the Schools," the free publication covers history, science, energy, art, music, culture, critical thinking, and career training for students from elementary school through college.

To obtain a copy of the catalog, which is published by Chevron's division of community affairs, write to Chevron U.S.A. Inc., 742 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, Calif. 94710.

The Young Adult Services Division of the American Library Association has published the 1985 edition of "High-Interest/Low-Reading Level Booklist" for "reluctant" teen-age readers.

The 30 fiction and nonfiction books listed in the pamphlet use controlled vocabulary, short sentences and paragraphs, simple plots, and uncomplicated dialogue, according to the ala

The books were chosen by the division's High-Interest/Low-Literacy Level Materials Evaluation Committee, which is composed of public and school librarians and library-school faculty members from across the country. Selection was based on timeliness, maturity of format, and appeal of content. The books' reading levels do not exceed 6th grade, as determined by the Fry Readability Scale.

Single copies of the booklist are available for 50 cents from yasd, ala, 50 East Huron St., Chicago, Ill. 60611. Enclose a stamped, self-addressed business envelope.

Also on the ala front:

The association's annual National Library Week is scheduled to be celebrated April 6-12. Based on the theme "Get a head start at the library," the week will feature promotions nationwide by local libraries and schools. For information on plans for the event and to obtain a free copy of the ala Graphics Catalog and Publicity Book, which lists ideas for the event, write the ala Public Information Office, 50 East Huron St., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

Thomas J. Galvin, dean of the University of Pittsburgh's School of Library and Information Science, will succeed Robert Wedgeworth as executive director of the ala in December. Mr. Wedgeworth will become dean of Columbia University's School of Library Service.

And B. Dalton Bookseller has been named the recipient of the first Public Library Association award for "the advancement of literacy." The award recognizes B. Dalton's commitment to increasing literacy in the United States, according to the ala In 1983, the firm launched the four-year, $3-million "National Literacy Initiative" in an effort to increase corporate support for the development of programs for adults and children.--ab

Vol. 05, Issue 03

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