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Washington in brief

Laura Bush schedules solo trip to Mideast

By wire services
Published May 18, 2005

WASHINGTON - First lady Laura Bush will make a solo visit to the Middle East this week, aiming to spread a positive message about U.S. intentions in the region.

She will tour local landmarks and programs and will give a speech to the World Economic Forum in Jordan, the White House said Tuesday.

Mrs. Bush leaves Thursday night for the five-day trip to Jordan, Israel and Egypt. White House press secretary Scott McClellan called the trip "an opportunity for Mrs. Bush to reinforce our commitment to promoting freedom and supporting women and girls across the Middle East."

Auditors find testing in Head Start falls short

WASHINGTON - The test used to gauge the academic progress of children in Head Start is not a valid measure of their learning, congressional investigators say.

The Government Accountability Office's review, released Tuesday, found a series of flaws with the National Reporting System test and with the way it is run by the Head Start Bureau.

The test is intended to show how well the federal preschool program is helping poor children gain an understanding of spoken English, vocabulary and simple math.

The test was first given in the fall of 2003 to more than 400,000 4-and-5-year-old children. It uses pictures, letters and numbers.

Yet the Head Start Bureau has not shown the test is "valid and reliable" over time, in part because leaders had to form the exam quickly and never did a pilot test, the GAO said.

The report says the bureau has not made clear what progress is expected, how test scores are used or how Head Start centers are held accountable for results, yielding confusion.

Rumsfeld warns against altering base proposal

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned a commission reviewing his proposal to close or downsize military bases that tinkering with even one facility could unravel plans for entire sections of the U.S. defense network.

"One must be careful about taking a selective look at individual components or pieces of these recommendations without considering how those components or pieces fit into the larger whole," Rumsfeld testified Monday.

[Last modified May 18, 2005, 00:51:10]

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