Carl A. Jessen, 91, a retired chief of the secondary school section of the U.S. Office of Education, died of pneumonia Monday at his home in Washington. He had suffered from Parkinson's disease and cancer.

After his retirement in 1960, Mr. Jessen was elected executive secretary of the Cooperative Study of Secondary Education, now known The Evaluative Criteria, affiliated with the Office of Education. For the last three years, he had been on its executive committee. He was also a consultant to the National Education Association until recently.

Mr. Jessen was born in Larimore, N.D. He graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and earned a master's degree from Northwestern University. He took further studies in Montpelier, France, and at Stanford University.

After serving as a high school principal in Minnesota and Montana and as state high school supervisor for Montana, Mr. Jessen joined the Office of Education here in 1927 as a specialist in secondary education. During the early 1930s, he was coordinator of the national survey of secondary education.

He had published articles in many educational magazines and was the author of "Mignonette and Other Poems."

Mr. Jessen served with the American Expeditionary Force in France in World War I.

He is survived by his wife, Ethel, of the home.