Elaine Exton, 70, publisher of a Washington based education newsletter for more than 20 years who was a former government writer and researcher, died of respiratory failure Tuesday at the Georgetown University Hospital.

She had published "Word From Washington" since 1957. The newsletter reported and interpreted developments in education, including legislation and its effect on local school systems.

Miss Exton came to Washington in the mid-1930s, and worked for 14 years as a special investigator for the American Council of Education's Commission on Cooperation in Federal Projects.

She also worked for a number of government agencies. During World War II, she was with the Office of War Information as a research assistant on education and as a visual education specialist.

She was a research assistant and historian for the American Red Cross for a year before beginning an 11 year stint as the Washington correspondent of the American Schoolboard Journal in 1946.

Miss Exton contributed articles on education to "School Life," "Secondary Schools Today," and "Pathfinder Magazine."

She also worked as a consultant and writer for the National Education Association and the American Association of School Administrators.

Her memberships included the Education Writers' Association and the Education Press Association. She had been a member of the National Press Club since 1972.

Mis Exton was a native of Long Branch, N.J., and earned a master's degree at the University of Southern California in 1934 before coming to Washington. She lived in Arlington.

There are no immediate survivors.