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In a surprise announcement last week, David W. Hornbeck, Maryland's superintendent of schools for the past 12 years, informed the state board of education that he would step down from his post when his current term ends in June.

The board had asked the 46-year-old superintendent to stay on for a fourth four-year term in office.

Mr. Hornbeck, who served as president of the Council of Chief State School Officers last year, did not say what he plans to do when he leaves office, but promised to continue working on the problems of "at risk" students.

During his tenure as state chief, Mr. Horn5p6beck persuaded the Maryland board to adopt a comprehensive student-testing program, which included the nation's first statewide writing and citizenship assessments. As president of the national chiefs' group, he had spearheaded work on a major policy statement urging states to "guarantee" the quality of education provided for students most at risk for school failure.

The American Association of School Administrators has named Gene R. Carter, superintendent of the Norfolk (Va.) Public Schools, as its first "Superintendent of the Year."

The new award, co-sponsored by the ServiceMaster Company of Downers Grove, Ill., honors the winner's leadership with a gold medallion, a $1,000 check, and a $10,000 college scholarship for a student from his alma mater.

Mr. Carter, who has been Norfolk's superintendent since 1983, was previously director of instruction and assistant superintendent in the 36,000-student district, which includes 57 schools.

Paul A. Gagnon, chairman of the history department at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, has been named the first scholar in residence at the American Federation of Teachers.

During his nine-month tenure, Mr. Gagnon will complete a study of history textbooks and develop a teachers' guide to improve teaching about democracy in social-studies classes. Last year, he released a study criticizing world-history texts as being "bland and uninteresting."

The new post, funded by a $30,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, is being sponsored by Education for Democracy, a joint project of the aft, the Educational Excellence Network, a coalition of educators based at Columbia University's Teachers College, and Freedom House, a civil-liberties organization. The project also sponsored Mr. Gagnon's 1987 study.

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