REAUTHORIZATION OF THE NATIONAL ASSESSMENT OF EDUCATIONAL PROGRESS AND NATIONAL ASSESSMENT GOVERNING BOARD
SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD,
YOUTH AND FAMILIES
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
HEARING HELD IN WASHINGTON, DC, JUNE 11, 1998
Serial No. 105-117
Printed for the use of the Committee on Education
and the Workforce
TABLE OF CONTENTSSTATEMENT OF MARY R. BLANTON, VICE CHAIR, NATIONAL ASSESSMENT GOVERNING BOARD *
STATEMENT OF NANCY DOOREY, DELAWARE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE BOARDS OF EDUCATION *
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL F. WARD, SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, ON BEHALF OF THE COUNCIL OF CHIEF STATE SCHOOLS OFFICERS, RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA *
STATEMENT OF LARRY SNOWHITE, GENERAL COUNSEL, MCA ENTERPRISES, INC., RIVERSIDE PUBLISHING, CTB/MCGRAW-HILL AND HARCOURT BRACE, WASHINGTON, DC *
STATEMENT OF MARTHA SCHWARTZ, MATHEMATICALLY CORRECT, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA *
STATEMENT OF CHRISTOPHER J. KLICKA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HOME SCHOOL LEGAL DEFENSE ASSOCIATION, PURCELLVILLE, VIRGINIA *
STATEMENT OF AMBROSIA E. RODRIGUEZ, ESQUIRE, MEXICAN AMERICAN LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND, WASHINGTON, DC *
APPENDIX A -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF CONGRESSMAN RIGGS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA *
APPENDIX B -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF CONGRESSMAN MARTINEZ FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA *
APPENDIX C -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF MARY R. BLANTON, VICE CHAIR, NATIONAL ASSESSMENT GOVERNING BOARD *
APPENDIX D -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF NANCY DOOREY, DELAWARE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE BOARDS OF EDUCATION *
APPENDIX E -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF MICHAEL F. WARD, SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, ON BEHALF OF THE COUNCIL OF CHIEF STATE SCHOOLS OFFICERS, RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA *HEARING ON REAUTHORIZATION OF THE NATIONAL ASSESSMENT OF EDUCATIONAL PROGRESS AND NATIONAL ASSESSMENT GOVERNING BOARD
June 11, 1998
U.S. House of Representatives
Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families
Committee on Education and the Workforce
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 12:05 P.M., in Room 2175, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Frank Riggs [Chairman of the Subcommittee] presiding.
Present: Representatives Riggs, Castle, Martinez, Kildee, Payne, Roemer, and Kucinich.
Staff Present: Vic Klatt, Education Policy Coordinator; Sally Lovejoy, Senior Education Policy Advisor; Jo-Marie St. Martin, General Counsel; Kent Talbert, Professional Staff Member; Rich Stombres, Legislative Assistant; D'Arcy Philps, Professional Staff Member; Leslie Field, Media Assistant; Alex Nock, Minority Legislative Associate, and June Harris, Minority Education Coordinator.
Chairman Riggs. [presiding] Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I call to order this meeting of the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families for our first hearing on reauthorization of NAEP and NAGB.
I must apologize to our witnesses for the delay in beginning our hearing. I certainly apologize for any convenience that the delay caused it turned out that the scheduled start of the hearing coincided with a series of votes on the House floor and hence, we are starting over an hour late. But I apologize, and under the circumstances I am going to forego an opening statement so that we can go right to our panel or panels of witnesses, and I will submit my entire opening statement for the record and recognize my good friend and a ranking member of the Subcommittee, Congressman Martinez.
SEE APPENDIX A -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF CONGRESSMAN RIGGS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. Martinez. Mr. Chairman, because we are starting late, I would do likewise, and submit my opening statement for the record and get right to the witnesses. Thank you.
SEE APPENDIX B -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF CONGRESSMAN MARTINEZ FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Chairman Riggs. I thank the gentleman.
I call forward Mrs. Mary Blanton who is testifying on our first panel. She is the Vice Chairperson of the National Assessment Governing Board, commonly known as NAGB. She is an attorney and she is from Salisbury, North Carolina. Did I pronounce it correctly?
Ms. Blanton. It was close.
Chairman Riggs. Is it close to Plainhurst? That's what I would like to know.
Mrs. Blanton was appointed to the Board in 1990. We're delighted to have here this morning, and we look forward to her testimony and particularly, the perspective, of course, of the NAGB on the reauthorization of the Congressional statute that first created NAGB. So, thank you, Mrs. Blanton. Please proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF MARY R. BLANTON, VICE CHAIR, NATIONAL ASSESSMENT GOVERNING BOARD
Ms. Blanton. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your having us here today, and Congressman Martinez, thank you for inviting me. I am honored and pleased to be testifying before the Subcommittee on behalf of NAGB.
I will provide a brief summary of my written testimony to you orally, and ask that my full written testimony be entered into the record.
Chairman Riggs. Without objection, it will so appear. And that is for the other witnesses as well. Their entire prepared statements or written statements will appear in the record and will be published in their entirety as part of the transcript of today's proceedings.
Ms. Blanton. As you said, Mr. Chairman, I am Mary Blanton of Salisbury, North Carolina who was appointed to the Board in 1990 by Secretary Cavazos and reappointed in 1994 by current Secretary Riley. And, I am currently serving as Vice Chairman of the Board. I've served in that capacity since 1995.
I'm one of three members on the Board who represent the general public. Along with my husband, I am the parent of four public school children, ages 11, 13, 15, and 17, two of whom are here with me today. In my public life, I am an attorney and have a small-town general practice in my hometown of Salisbury.
My testimony covers the redesign of NAEP by the Board, and that's a process that has taken us over two years of deliberation to come to a consensus on the Board and with numerous public hearings and input by a broad cross-section of people about the direction that NAEP should take in the future. This process has led to a redesign of the program of the National Assessment such that, the role of NAGB as a policymaker, for our Nation's report card is a critical part of that change.
Some recommendation and thoughts about changes in our authorizing legislation, I will offer. I will offer thoughts on the Board's current assignment in overseeing the voluntary national test and will make a brief response, Mr. Chairman, to your questions about State-based competency measures.
The redesign of NAEP will make our Nation's report card more useful in the 2000 and beyond. Currently, we as Americans spend over $300 billion on K-12 education, and yet, we have little data measuring how effective our dollars are in educating our students. NAEP is the only national measure currently available of the achievement of our students nationwide.
Our redesign of the National Assessment provides a sharper focus for our efforts and more efficiency in our design. The Board has proposed providing for faster reporting with our main goal being reporting six to nine months after testing of the students on the assessment to the general public. Parents, teachers, business people, will all know more quickly about our students' levels of achievement.
The redesign also sets a regular annual schedule of testing covering more subjects and providing more frequent benchmarks for our citizens. It also provides States with a predictable and biannual schedule of State report cards at the 4th and 8th grades in reading, science, mathematics, and writing. These subjects after consultation with the State's about the kind of data they want.
The State-level data has certainly been one of the most useful parts, we feel, of the National Assessment Program since the program was begun in 1990, of reporting at the State level. And, this data is sought after by both State policymakers and educators.
The independence of the Board is critical to NAEP's credibility and integrity into our efforts to carry-out this redesign. Board members represent a broad bipartisan spectrum of persons indicated in, and knowledgeable about education. It brings to the table State and local perspectives that have been heavily represented. There are parents, teachers, business people, State legislators, governors, principals, testing experts, and State and local administrators and policymakers on the Board. The quality of the Board members I have served with and their dedication has been exceptional.
Our responsibilities are to set the policy guidelines for the National Assessment including deciding the testing schedule, the test coverage in any subject, setting the performance standards for students on the test, and reviewing every test item that our students take. The Board's composition and independence protect NAEP from any specific ideology or partisan interests from dominating. The Board has historically had some ambiguity in its authority in some areas on NAEP which I note in my testimony. We've worked collaboratively with both the Department of Education and the National Center for Education Statistics to resolve these ambiguities.
But, of course, so long as different entities share responsibility for different aspects of the test, such ambiguities will be inevitable. I've come to see that even some seemingly technical decisions have much larger policy implications than one might, at first, think. Of course, less ambiguity in the Board's authority would generally be better than more.
As to reauthorization, specifically, Congress must act in some fashion, to extend NAEP and NAGB beyond September 30, of this year. The Board feels strongly that if the authorization does not occur this year, an extension that would put NAEP and NAGB back on the minimum of a five-year cycle would be important. The time frame for developing our assessments run around five years currently, and involve a broad national-consensus process. A minimum five-year cycle for authorization prevents disruption in our assessment cycle and allow our schedule and our users, particularly our State partners, reliability in the assessment schedule.
The Board also feels that legislative changes such as a return to four-year terms for members provide a needed time for them master some of the intricacies of the NAEP program and to provide better policy guidance, and greater continuity for the program would be important. Additional or clarified authority for State NAEP annual data collection, and a shorter reporting schedule and continued achievement level reporting is also needed. I deal more fully with some of these issues in my written testimony.
With respect to the VNT, the Voluntary National Test over which you have given us sole responsibility we have undertaken to do what you've asked us to do. The Board has not taken any position in favor of, or opposed to, the Voluntary National Test. We have positioned ourselves and the testing contract to anticipate the expected Congressional advice regarding development of the test beyond the September 30 deadline, and we are also awaiting the results of the NAS studies which Congress mandated to give us guidance in that regard.
As to your proposal, Chairman Riggs, regarding establishing competency testing criteria for categorical grant aid to the States, of course, the Board has not discussed any such proposal and would not have a position on such a proposal. However, just speaking personally, it would seem to me that such a proposal would shift the Board's role from being a consensus-building and persuasive body which enables people to come to a common understanding of our educational objective in a collegial sort of way to that of a regulatory and coercive one.
I would also be a little concerned about the effect it would have on NAEP. We wouldn't want NAEP, which is a voluntary test that is given and adopted by many States and views, not to seem less voluntary or coercive in any way if State's felt that they were required to conform to some sort of NAEP standards in setting their own achievement levels in their States.
In conclusion, I would like to thank you for inviting me to testify. My experience on the Board has proven that a broad consensus of Americans are interested and eager to learn about how our children are learning in the schools across our Nation. They want a measure which gives information which is understandable and useful, which provides an acceptable standard for determining their performance. And this speaks not only to the national, but to the State and, perhaps, local levels as well. Such a measure voluntary and based on widely discussed standards and content is what NAEP provides.
The composition and dedication of the NAGB Board is critical to this enterprise. Board members I've served with from many walks-of-life had deliberated seriously and thoughtfully about what our Nation's students should know and be able to do on the National Assessment, and how to derive helpful information to them, their parents, their schools, States, and the American public about our investment in our Nation's future.
I hope you will allow us to continue our work, and with renewed vigor and increased effectiveness we will try to meet these goals in the coming years.
I'm happy to answer any questions you may have for me.
SEE APPENDIX C -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF MARY R. BLANTON, VICE CHAIR, NATIONAL ASSESSMENT GOVERNING BOARD
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Mrs. Blanton. We very much, again, appreciate your appearance and your testimony. Let me ask you, first of all: do you know why NAGB and the department have chosen not to send a reauthorization bill or, at least, their suggestions or outline for a reauthorization bill to Congress?
Ms. Blanton. I do not, Mr. Chairman. I'm not sure we've been asked, specifically, as a board to do so, and I wouldn't want to speak for the department because I don't know what their position would be on it.
Chairman Riggs. Well, that's fair enough. If you haven't been asked, we'll ask now if it's not too late. But obviously, by your appearance here today you are giving us some idea as to how you think we should proceed with the reauthorization.
I do want to note for the record that it is our Subcommittee's intent to receive as much input as possible on the reauthorization of NAEP and NAGB and to that end on March 10 of this year, the Subcommittee staff is going to send out letters, I suspect, probably over my signature and Chairman Goodling's signature to over 60 education-related groups seeking written comments on issues related to the reauthorization. And accordingly, the Subcommittee continues to invite a broad range of witnesses and other experts and concerned parties to either testify or to communicate with the Subcommittee regarding their ideas and suggestions on how to proceed with the reauthorization and, for that matter, how to improve upon current law.
Back on the question of so-called Voluntary National Tests, and I know you're in a very delicate position with respect to the national testing initiative, but I'd like to get a better idea of how far along are you on that in the national test development contractors? Given the funding limitations that were placed in last year's annual spending bill I believe it was the annual spending bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education but, despite those or given those limitations you were still, I think, charged with certain planning and design of pilot testing and field testing and other work associated with national tests in 4th grade reading and 8th grade mathematics so I'd like to give you the opportunity to tell us the work that you have done and how far along that work is with the Fiscal Year 1998 funding.
Ms. Blanton. I'll be glad to do that. As you know, when we received the contract and received oversight over the contract from the Congress, we immediately took action to meet the 90-day deadline you all had set for us to revise, accept or terminate the contract with the AIR for test development. We did meet that deadline. We changed the contract relatively significantly to end on September 30 which is the end of the funding period to allow us to position ourselves for appropriate Congressional guidance with respect to the 1999 appropriations and reauthorization in deciding whether to approve a second contract here.
So, basically, we have simply limited the contract period over which we authorized work to continue on the development to run through September 30; that's the first thing we did.
We added provisions to the contract which specifies specifically, that Fiscal Year 1998 funds shouldn't be used to pilot test, field test, implement, or administer any sorts of tests according to your legislative language that you provided. We also changed the contract so that test items were being developed during 1998. Pilot tests would not occur until, at the earliest, March of 1999 if test development is not prohibited beyond September 30. Field tests would not occur until March of 2000 and that was a substantial delay in the testing State programs.
And, again, looking ahead with the anticipation of any tests being given not until March of 2001, we have moved forward with our plans for developing work plans for the pilot test for inclusion on accommodation criteria and those sorts of things. Again, looking to both the Congress for guidance and also to the NAS studies which have been required under the legislation to give us some assistance in knowing what direction we'll be going once that information comes out.
I believe the Board has also requested funding for setting policies for NAEP and the voluntary test for 1999, has made the request already to the Congress on that.
In terms of our policy for accommodations for students with disabilities limited-English proficiency, as we were directed by the conference committee, we're going to be conducting public hearings in the fall based on recommendations of the NAS studies. We'll obtain independent advice from the contractor and from legal authorities on the legislative requirements under the test, and we'll be making recommendations subject to public review and comment on those issues in the fall after we have appropriate professional guidance.
Chairman Riggs. Mrs. Blanton, obviously, you're hear today speaking on behalf of the National Assessment Governing Board. But, I'd like to get your personal opinion as well, if the Board has discussed this and gone on record that, the collective opinion of the Board members with respect to so-called voluntary national tests, do you think that voluntary national tests are necessary? And, in that vein, do you think it is imperative that we have individual student test data or testing results in order to compare how one school district is doing versus another on how one stands on the State-by-State comparisons that can be made with the current NAEP assessment data? Do you see a need for that? And, is it really imperative, important and instructive to have voluntary national tests so you can compare how a school child is doing in California with a school child, say, in Virginia or Michigan or Ohio? And, again, I'd like to get your personal opinion on that matter.
Ms. Blanton. Well, as I've said, the Congress gave the Board the responsibility for developing this national test. And as we understand our directive, the test is to be aligned as closely as possible with the National Assessment of Educational Progress to use the same achievement levels or standards that we have set on the national assessment and to develop the test in a way that would not harm the integrity of NAEP; that is our main concern as a board. It's to preserve the integrity and the usefulness of the National Assessment Program.
If we are going to be administering a voluntary national test, and I think it's the Congress' decision, not ours, as to whether or not this is an important thing or not. And the Board has taken no position. But, if we are going to administer, then by-golly we're going to do it in a way that is going to make it as useful and as reliable an instrument at the individual level as our National Assessment Program is at the group level.
Your comment about the comparison of a student in Oklahoma to a student in Virginia, that's possible now with the National Assessment Program to look at how students are doing in Virginia versus how students are doing in Oklahoma with respect to some national achievement standard, some performance standard that's been set on the National Assessment.
Chairman Riggs. But then, NAEP only gives us a representative sample.
Ms. Blanton. Exactly. So, that you're not able to look at an individual student and say, "this student is working at the proficient level on this test according to a national standard that has been established by the National Assessment." And you also don't have any international comparisons in the National Assessment Program currently built-in to that program. And certainly, that's something we look to try to expand upon in the future with our National Assessment. But, those would be items, again, that would be something that the voluntary national test might provide individual students and parents with that kind of information.
I think the way the test development contract looks now, it really isn't clear to me that that kind of data would necessarily be aggregated to give group comparisons. That's what NAEP does and that's what NAEP does very well. And I think, it's really a matter of the Congress deciding whether or not that individual student data is really something that's important for parents and teachers and others to have, and whether or not there is that link between the individual student, the standards that are set nationally on this National Assessment, and some international benchmarks, is something that is important.
Chairman Riggs. Well, I say based on the concerns that you have mentioned and elaborated on in your written testimony about what, I think, is a very modest proposal would be magnified many-fold with the national testing. But, I'd like to discuss that further on the second round.
I do want to get out on the table here at the beginning of our hearing that not all States participate in the NAEP. Is that correct?
Ms. Blanton. We've had almost every State. I think over the course of the State Assessment Program, almost every 50 States have participated. Not all of them have participated every time.
Chairman Riggs. Well, let me re-phrase that question then: How many States, not territories, and not DOD schools, are participating in the 1998 NAEP State assessments and how does this compare with previous years?
Ms. Blanton. There were 43 States in 1996, and 41 in 1998. So, there were two that did not participate in 1998 two less. It may not have been the same States.
Chairman Riggs. I see. So there are fewer States participating, although it's a small number. Do you know why that's the case?
Ms. Blanton. It may have had to do with started the first time, there were 37. So it's gone up in the last two times from the first iteration. I think, a lot of times it has to do with State budgets, with the ability of States to persuade schools within the State to participate, because individual schools don't get any data back. And so, it tends to be a burden on the State schools to participate in a sampling program like this. I think there are a lot of factors that play into whether or not a State chooses to participate or not, and it may also be the subject matter that is being assessed; that they're more interested in science than they are in reading that particular year.
But, I would say that the State support for the program and the State participation has increased since the beginning of the program. Another thing, I think that what the redesign will have to do with is that States haven't known, because we couldn't tell them, just what we were going to be assessing and in what grades and when, with any kind of regularity or reliability. And that's one of the key things in our redesigning. We want to be able to let States know, in advance of the testing years, what they can expect the tests to be, and in what year and at what grade levels, and in what subject matter, so that they can make their plans and get themselves ready for the program and advocate the necessary support among the schools to participate in the program.
I think, once we have a reliable schedule that extends beyond two years, States will come forward and be more interested in participating. And, I know you have some State people on the panel after me, and maybe they can speak to that.
Chairman Riggs. Is that one reason why you're recommending a five-year reauthorization?
Ms. Blanton. That's one of the reasons; yes. And also, we have gone ahead with our redesign and set a 10-year schedule so that we have a 10-year plan for what NAEP would assess over the next 10-year period. And we can let States know in this year, we will be assessing science and math, and in this, we will be assessing reading and writing. You can depend on this. And that's something that we haven't been able to do for States. We've had a lot of shifts in the schedule because of funding problems and not knowing what our authority was going to be in the future.
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Mrs. Blanton. Congressman Martinez.
Mr. Martinez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me first explain a built-in bias that I have. I always felt, since I was a student, that testing for the sake of comparing one child to another or one school district to another really doesn't achieve much, other than embarrassing someone and making someone else feel good. I say that because in among, let's say, a smaller environment of the classroom, kids that get A's, well now, they're bragging that got an A, and the kid that got a B is hanging is head in shame. Then he goes home to his parents and his parents are disappointed. But the testing only showed the comparison. They weren't tested to show what do we do about that kid that's getting the D, so that he can get an A? What do we do?
So, I go into my whole line of questioning with you understanding that built-in bias. And my first question is: If schools are going to make this information available to them because it's a voluntary program, and they need to know how their kids are doing based on the national standard, what motivates them to really want to know that information? Just for a sense of pride to see how their kids are doing as compared to other kids or to improve their school systems?
Ms. Blanton. Well, I would certainly hope Congressman that it would have to do with improvement. I think one thing that's interesting that the NAEP provides and I speak as a parent of students in North Carolina it's been interesting to me to look at schools in my State and how they've done on the National Assessment as compared to other States that have similar populations to North Carolina, southern States that have similar demographics.
And, you can look sometimes and see, well, this States seems to be doing better in these areas. Then, of course, the data can be broken down into the various sub-categories of the particular subject that you're looking at. You can see, perhaps, South Carolina is doing very well in comparing its 8th grade students in geometry, with very similar demographics North Carolina, that might lead North Carolina to look, for instance, at the curriculum in South Carolina and say, what are they teaching? How are they teaching differently?
So I see that there are uses that the State policymakers can make of the data that will improve education that will allow them to say, well what are you doing differently than we are that allows your students, who are very similar to ours, to perform better in this particular area? And, it seems to me that that State data that's now available has been a real rich line of that sort of information for State policymakers, for teachers, for district superintendents to look at and to analyze to provide that kind of information for improving education.
Again, since NAEP is a sample program, no single student takes the entire test. So, as a diagnostic tool for an individual student, it isn't meant to do that and it won't do that. But for systems, I think it can provide some diagnosis and some analysis and some conversations that may move curricular decisions, may move assessment decisions. You know, how do we assess these things? Should we be assessing them in a different way that would give us more information to our students?
Mr. Martinez. Well, that's good in that if the information then, motivates the school district to look at its system because it's doing worse than someone else; that is good. Then, I would have no complaint about that. But, that's what I've worried about.
That brings me to the next question I want to ask: In your testimony, you indicated that under the current design of the National Assessment test, too few subjects, too infrequently, and you just mentioned you don't do it on all subjects, and so the school boards that are availing themselves of this information are just doing it on those subject matters that you have tested, and you indicated that there are too few and that they were too infrequent. And, in response to that, the Board has called for tests to be administered annual at a national level and in the even-numbered years at the States level, and reports to be issued within six to nine months indicating the test when it sometimes it took 18 to 24 months to file a report.
I know that reports done in a timely way are going to be more valuable than reports that have taken a long time because things may have changed over that period of time and you really want to be current. It seems to me, someone might say they're incompatible goals, strictly from the point of view that you have the resources to condense this time frame and do effectively because the other consideration, the costs are going up the more subject matters you test for and report on. Are there enough resources to be able to do that effectively?
Ms. Blanton. We hope there will be. We've looked at the redesign in order to streamline and to make the national assessment more efficient. One of the problems has been over the years, since the 1960's, that more and more different kinds of purposes have been added on to the assessments. And, it's been intended to serve many different to be a research tool, to provide information to policymakers, and it can't serve many lords.
So, one of the things I think the redesign does is it streamlines the testing so that for instance, in our redesign when you bring a new assessment when you revise your current assessment say, in mathematics, and you establish a new framework for mathematics, we have planned to do that only once about every 10 years in between the tests that we will be giving in mathematics to provide benchmarks over time. Again, so that systems can see is there any difference in the way our students are performing over time.
It will be much more streamlined. It will have a lot less secondary kinds of questions asked, for instance, background questions. The analysis of the data will be minimized to provide for efficiencies in terms of cost. So, we're making efficiencies and streamlining the process and streamlining our purpose in areas that will, we hope, cut down the costs to enable us to do more testing in more subject matters to provide more benchmarks over time.
Again, in a 10-year period in any one subject matter, we'd like to have, at least, two to three benchmarks so that people can see where we're going. And again, the 10-year framework, that's sort of one cohort of students moving through the school system and it's a 12-year schedule, but 10 tens, we felt, would give a system sufficient time to see progress when that cohort of students have begun their schooling and have ended their schooling. It will have been about a 10-year period from 4th grade until 12th grade. They would be able to see whether they have made progress over time in the assessment of our students.
Mr. Martinez. That also is very good.
One last question that I want to ask since my time has run out here is: One of the primary purposes, you stated in the testimony, of NAEP is to provide fair and accurate presentation of educational achievements in reading, writing and other subjects included in the third national education goal regarding students' achievement in citizenship. And one of the things that has concerned many members like myself, especially the members of the Hispanic Caucus is that when these tests were done, if they were done in a way that children that had a language barrier problem, for example, if they were tested for reading and they had a limited-English proficiency, would it be more reliable information on their comprehension if it was done in an international language a language that they understand better?
There's two-fold. Students that come here that go to the kindergarten that never had any education before, but there are other young children who come here at a different age that have had some education in the country they come from whatever the country is and so, they would be able to be tested in that language, and so you have the two concerns. But when you get to the 4th and 12th grades, you may have some kids that came in with language barrier and trying to get on to English but still speak Spanish more fluently than English. So, you can understand the gamut of children you'll be testing and would be even part of the test. So you may select the test group that doesn't have anybody with a language problem in it.
But if you do have what is reflective of a total school population, is there, in your system of testing accommodations for that?
Ms. Blanton. We do try and the NAEP program, I think, has a history of pushing for inclusion of all students in the test. In fact, we have tightened up our exclusion criteria for States that if States have to include students unless there are clear and specific reasons for excluding students. And that includes the limited-English proficient students and other students with other disabilities.
You may be aware that in the last iteration of the math test at the 8th grade level, we did provide, as an experiment, a Spanish-language version of a mathematics tests. Again, our view was we wanted to see whether or not that Spanish-language version could be included as part of the main sample and whether there would be any differences in the kind of performance that was shown. And that was an experiment and the Spanish-language version wasn't part of the main sample. But it was an experiment to see and we haven't gotten the results back from that one yet.
But, our view was, we wanted to see what students can do in mathematics. This isn't a test of reading and English. We want to know can they do these math problems? And so, we wanted to provide the ability for students who had not yet mastered English to be able to get at, and to perform on, the math test.
We're very conservative in the way we proceed with adding different categories into the test that may affect the trends that we have tried to develop so that we can say that the results that were in 1994 are comparable to the results in 1998. So, that's why we did that as an experiment.
As to the issue of reading, I think, the National Assessment has tested reading and English. That has been what our test has been, an English-language test. We did do for Puerto Rico, I believe, a reading test in Spanish. Again, for them specifically, some years ago.
But these are all issues. The inclusion issues are certainly ones that the Board looks at as a policy issue. We want to be inclusive. That has been our goal. And I think there is a difference between the National Assessment, again, which is a sample of the Nation's students, versus an individual test that may make for differences in accommodation policies between those two test. And, again, that's something that we're looking both to Congress for guidance on, as well as the NAS studies. And we will be holding public hearings in terms of the VNT and our accommodations and different policy's on it.
Mr. Martinez. Thank you very much, Mrs. Blanton. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Riggs. Congressman Castle is recognized.
Mr. Castle. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
And Mary, it's a pleasure to see you again. I had the pleasure of serving with Mary on the National Assessment Governing Board. She is a far better member than I ever was. But, it was a pleasure to work with her.
My questions will be somewhat limited. I must say that I come from the school of maybe because when I was a governor in Delaware, I guess it was NAEP testing and found out that we weren't doing as well as we thought we were. And it was probably lesson for us. You always want to think your State's doing the best possible, but it sure as heck made us sit up and take notice.
Now, in Delaware, we may hear more about this shortly in the panel, but now in Delaware we do comprehensive testing at various grade levels for everybody, and may do some for advancement. And we publish a lot of comparisons of schools and testing and everything else in our State.
I happen to believe in all that. I happen to believe that it's tremendous motivational factors in that. As a rather indifferent student myself, I can assure you that if there hadn't been tests, I probably would have never voted for Bork if I could have avoided it. So, I get some sense that testing makes everybody a little bit sharper for that reason.
I have one structural question you probably don't want to answer, if I had to guess. I know you don't have an opinion on it. But, that is the worse thing that nagged me in the NAEP testing from the Department of Education: Is this, in your judgment, a good idea or not a good idea? Are there educators who are for that who have been close to the situation? Or are there those who feel that you have to have some sort of control over it? Within the Board, as you know, it can be both positive and negative from time-to-time. And I think, perhaps, there is some people who feel if it was completely separated, you'd get it away from the Congress confronting it, where it doesn't have to answer to the Congress, it doesn't have to answer to the Department of Education and it would be fairer and kinder and gentler system, perhaps. Do you have any view on that?
I assume it hasn't been asked before. I know I'm late coming into the hearing.
Ms. Blanton. Congressman, yes; and first, may I say you were an excellent Board member. You set the standard for governors on our Board and had a knowledge of the particulars of our deliberations that I don't think has been equaled since you were tenured on the Board.
Mr. Castle. You must have had a low regard for governors going in since there were no standards set before then.
Ms. Blanton. I thoroughly enjoyed serving with you. Perhaps, standards have increased. I don't know.
I think I speak to that somewhat in my testimony. Again, I think this is something that the Congress would have to look at. I think your own, the Congressional Research Service did a study which made a couple of different suggestions. One, was to make the Board the independent and to give it sole authority over the National Assessment. The other one, was to make some incremental changes in the independence of the Board that might affect its authority over the program as a whole, but not to take it out of the current context that it's in where it has some mutual authority along with the Secretary in the Department and with the National Center for Educational Statistics.
I do think that is ultimately a decision the Congress has to make. Again, in your own experience on the Board, you would know that there are times when that sort of collaboration or unclear authority lines can be a problem. There are other times when it can be resolved. I think it sometimes does have to do with personalities that are in the particular positions where the authority lines break down.
Currently, with the National Center for Educational Statistics and Pascal Forgione, we have an excellent relationship. We work very well together and I think, when we have differences, we're able to put them out on the table and thrash through them, oftentimes, with a fair amount of sparks. But, we usually can come to an agreement.
But there are areas where independence is really critical. I think one of those areas that I've mentioned is the Board membership, keeping it broad, representative of a large spectrum of the American public is very important. Also, giving it some autonomy to set policy and to have those who carryout our policy carry out our policies with respect to the things that could become politicized. I don't want to see this program become criticized. I think it's too important.
Mr. Castle. I wouldn't want my questions to reflect on Pat Forgione, of course, who is the superintendent of education in Delaware and there is no more energetic human being in the world. But, just in a broad governance-sense, I was interested in that.
Just one other question and that is this. When you have SAT's and various other testing mechanisms, you know they change the testing, every year they re-give it or whatever it may be, it always seemed to me and to assure Mr. Martinez I've never seen a group of people who were so inclusive in terms of their testing, worrying about people's different backgrounds; worrying about language barriers; I mean, they are extraordinarily focused on those kinds of issues, as sensitive to that as any group that I've ever dealt with in my life. So I never really felt that they a lot of the other very serious questions you were asking probably are being well managed by them if I had to guess.
But what always concerned me was the speed of all this. Because of deliberate way in which the Board functioned, it seemed to me that it took a long time to develop a test and a long time to get results or whatever it may be. Then, we'd switch from subject-to-subject and from class-to-class and I'm interested in every year of trying to find out what's happening or whatever it may. Is there any effort being made to try to expedite some of that and to try to move it along? Is that an advance since I was last really in-touch with the Board?
Ms. Blanton. Absolutely, and that's really one of the main focuses of our redesign. I think it was the frustration of a number of Board members similar to yours; that is, that the results of our testing program were coming out so late after the actual testing occurred and that the reports that were being issued were so bogged-down and thick data files and were not accessible to folks who were layman and who weren't education researchers. A number of Board members, I think, felt that to be one of the critical things that needed to be addressed to make the National Assessment more accessible, more useful, more out-there for practitioners to use and mind and make something that would make a difference in their classroom or in their district.
The redesign really does try to do that. It makes the initial reports targeted towards the American public to be general, to be short, to get those results back within six to nine months of the actual testing which means within the next school year you'll have something back. You won't be waiting two years to hear what happened in 1994. You'll be getting results in 1996. We'll get the data out to those secondary analysts and to the State education policy-people so that they can use the data without having the Federal Government providing these huge reports to them.
Now that we have the technology availability that we have, that's going to be, I think, more efficient or less costly and will get the data out. So, yes; I think the redesign, in large part, was really to address those issues of swiftness of reporting and getting reports out in a readable and reasonable fashion.
Mr. Castle. Thank you very much. I appreciate it. I yield back, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Riggs. Thank you Congressman Castle. Congressman Kildee is recognized.
Mr. Kildee. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I was really involved in the standards and testing and debate in the Congress here when Roy Roemer was around and there was Lamar Alexander and with Dick Riley, even I was chief sponsor of goals 2000 really involved in it as a member of the committee and as a former school teacher.
I can recall at our early meetings, as we were addressing standards in testing that I coined the phrase "school delivery standards" which horrified some of the White House because they began to realize that if we had school delivery standards that might costing some money to help bring schools up to a certain standard. I remember Lamar Alexander was horrified by that expression and Dick Riley was very uneasy with that expression. So, we finally changed that "school delivery standards" into what we called "opportunity to learn standards."
My question is this: How can testing help us address that either school delivery standards or opportunity to learn? I ask that because the real fundamental question to my mind in this whole thing is: is the school failing or is the student failing? And if it's the school that's failing, how do we address that? How do we measure whether the school is failing or the student is failing? How do we address that? Could you just give some comments on that? It's a rather broad question, but I think we have to ask why we have testing; why we have assessment; and, how they relate to standards, both for the individual achievement and for the school.
Ms. Blanton. Well, first of all, Congressman Kildee, I would say that the National Assessment is set up really not to answer the question, why? But to answer the question, what is? And to provide data that can then allow other people to ask that question: Why are things the way they are?
And again, our focus is on student achievement over the subject matter. So, that's our main focus is to say how students are doing on the subject matter that a broad consensus of people have said is important for them to learn in a particular subject and then, again, having set some standards of performance in that subject.
But I think the data, itself, can lend weight and can generate discussion and can generate legislative action of the State and the local level regarding these sorts of issues that you raised. Again, once in our redesign when we're doing a new assessment, we will be providing some background information on: How many students, for instance, in mathematics are taking algebra at the 8th grade level? How many teachers have the resources they feel they need in their science labs? We ask questions like that as background information to our test on a regular basis.
The data is out there. So when the American public or when the folks in a particular State see that their teachers don't feel they have the resources they need to teach the students or that they are not being able to teach certain aspects of the subject matter, if the data is there, then the policymakers, the decision makers and parents and the general public have something to, again, begin to address those issues with.
I don't think the National Assessment, itself, can give answers to those questions. All we can do is provide the data that will enable others, then, to move forward with alternatives for
Mr. Kildee. Then it would not be your group who would say, for example, that if we'll reduce class sizes, that that does tend to elevate the scores of the students who are in those classes. For example, the Flint, Michigan program the last five years, Flint, where I taught school, has the maximum of 17 students in classes K through 3, and that has elevated the scores. Do you evaluate that or do we put the two together and try to decide?
Ms. Blanton. Again, that might not be a question we would ask: How many students are in a math class? But, it could be a background question. Again, that's something that the Board takes an interest in. What are the appropriate background questions to ask.
One of our policy requirements is that every background question that is asked is directly linked to achievement, directly linked to the subject matter study. So, taking that as an example, that might be something that could be asked and the data collected. Then, if you're in a State that has large numbers of children in your elementary schools and you see that the kids in Michigan are doing much better at the 4th grade in reading, you might ask, why? And one of the differences that you might find is that they have much smaller classes.
Again, we don't provide the analysis that says this is why you're doing better because we don't have that capacity and that's not our purpose. Our purpose is simply to try to say how students are doing, and then, to provide some background data that may inform further conversation and further analysis.
Mr. Kildee. So, you could seek that information of the class size?
Ms. Blanton. Yes, that's right. Mr. Truby, who is our executive director, says that, in fact, California is a good example where they use NAEP data of the achievement of their students in reading and it ended-up reducing class size in order to try to improve the So, I think that is an example where the NAEP data has made a difference in the State's determination of what it was going to try to see if helped to improve.
Mr. Kildee. Yes. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Congressman Kildee, and also for your past work over the many years during your service in Congress.
I would ask the indulgence of our second panel of witnesses so we could pose a few more questions to Mrs. Blanton because I think there is some other important areas we should cover before we excuse her.
Mrs. Blanton, listening to Congressman Castle's question to you and your response, hearing you talk earlier about trying to make international comparisons which, I think, is a very "dicey" thing, it struck me that while your redesign objectives are laudable should, perhaps, we ought to back-up and maybe even redefine the NAGB's role? I get the impression that perhaps, we're trying to do too much testing in too many subjects. I just wonder if we ought to streamline and simplify, and if you will put more of an emphasis on NAGB's role in helping to ensure learning in the core academic subjects, the basics? And, that we run the risk of getting pre-far field here when you've got a bunch of other subjects, when you start talking about international comparisons, when you talk about yes, the Congressionally mandated involvement of the NAGB in developing the voluntary national test.
Do you think that NAGB's trying to do too much, given its limited resources and staffing?
Ms. Blanton. I think, with the redesign that what we are undertaking to do is quite manageable. And, I think it is important at the national level. Now, at the State level, when you look at our proposal for State-by-State assessment, we are looking at the core subjects. If what you're referring to as core subjects are reading, writing, mathematics, and science.
Chairman Riggs. That's correct.
Ms. Blanton. At the national level, I think the other subjects we test are critical. I mean, we want to know: do students know American history? We want to know: do students know geography? We want to know at certain grade-levels: are students mastering a foreign language? So, at least, at the national level, to have some data on these other, what I would also consider core subjects for students graduating from high school, we need some kind of information about how our students are doing.
Chairman Riggs. But I would submit to you, if our kids are learning in the core academic subjects, the basics, the three R's or whatever you want to call them that, they're going to be able to learn well in the other subject areas.
Ms. Blanton. And again, I think, the initial legislation that provided for the National Assessment referenced specifically, sort of, civics and citizenship and the importance of those area. I would see that as being very important.
Chairman Riggs. But, obviously, this is our opportunity to re-visit that particular question.
It is my understand that the NAEP frameworks for 4th grade reading and 8th grade math are getting somewhat dated. They were first developed in 1989-1990 and 1988-1989, respectively. Do you agree and if you do since those frameworks were developed through a somewhat controversial national consensus-building process, how do we update the frameworks? And, have the States that participate I guess this is a double or triple question I have the States that are participating in the NAEP, have they ever specifically and explicitly endorsed these frameworks?
Ms. Blanton. Well, in terms of endorsing them, I don't think so. Again, remember, this is not a curriculum framework. This is an assessment framework.
Chairman Riggs. I understand that.
Ms. Blanton. There is a difference there. The mathematics framework was actually updated, I think, in 1994. It wasn't completely revised, but there were changes made in the framework. Yes. Our frameworks have been one of the most popular publications we've put out.
Chairman Riggs. Do they need to be updated?
Ms. Blanton. I think, mathematics, we're going to be updating in 2000, maybe 2004.
Chairman Riggs. But I guess we'll be making a decision about whether to
Ms. Blanton. So, both of those are up for revision, I think, if the Board feels that there are enough changes that need to be made in the up-and-coming years very shortly after the turn of the century.
Chairman Riggs. But I guess we, from our perspective, could perhaps, encourage or even hasten that updating?
Ms. Blanton. Yes, and no. Here's the trade-off you get. As a program that tracks trends, you can't have too much change and still have a trend-line. Again, that's our proposal on the 10-year plan. That's why we think that once the framework is developed, the basics in reading, the basics in mathematics, aren't going to change that much. We want to protect the assessment program from fads and from particular teaching methods and these sorts of things. We're looking at the fundamentals of what students should know and be able to do.
Those things aren't going to change drastically from one 10-year period to another. There may be some adjustments depending upon what schools across the Nation are emphasizing and wanting to be in line with that sort of thing, but our view is, in order to have some sort of trend-line so that we can compare: how students did in 1990; how they did again, in 1994; how they did again, in 1996; and to know that we're not comparing apples to oranges. Those frameworks have to stay pretty much stable over that period of time. If we change them too frequently, then, we lose our ability to
Chairman Riggs. So, it's your testimony, your position on behalf of the NAGB, that those intervals in the overall trend time period are sufficient?
Ms. Blanton. Yes, I think so.
Chairman Riggs. So, in other words, when we test in reading and math long term trends, it's going to based on frameworks that are at that point in time, almost a decade old. I know in my home State, at least, in California, particularly with the subject of reading, maybe math, that's enough time to go from whole language back to phonics, back to whole language and back to phonics.
Ms. Blanton. But again, Chairman Riggs, what you're talking about there are methods of instruction. And what we would be looking at over that period of time is that regardless you're going about instructing these kids, how much do they know? And that issue shouldn't change.
Chairman Riggs. I think that's a good point. I'm interested in, and I'm going to ask for very short responses, if I can, and perhaps, this would be more appropriate for you to address in writing: Getting a better understanding as to the responsibilities and duties of NAGB, vis-a-vis, the NCES with respect to the NAEP test, I'm glad Congressman Castle asked the question about that perhaps, NAGB and NAEP being completely independent of the Department of Education as opposed to NAEP and NCES being sort of, housed in the Department of Education.
But I want to get to a couple of other subjects very quickly, and that is: The status of your study to link the State assessment in North Carolina in Maryland to the NAEP. I think it's very important.
And a related question would be: How many States are currently imbedding or attempting to embed the NAEP questions in their State assessments?
And, Mrs. Blanton, why don't you go ahead and introduce at this point in time for the record your companions.
Ms. Blanton. Yes. This is the executive director of the National Assessment Governing Board, Roy Truby, and one of our staff members, Ray Fields, are here to give me assistance today with anything that I don't know the answer to which is a lot.
Chairman Riggs. I was remiss. I should have invited them to come up since I know both Roy and Ray. Why don't you gentlemen be seated at the table, if you don't mind, real quick.
Ms. Blanton. I would say on the North Carolina issue, I know Mike Ward is going to be testifying before you, our chief State superintendent, and I've been just extremely pleased with how eager North Carolina has been to make use of the National Assessment Program. We have been doing a study looking at the overlap between the North Carolina mathematics assessment that's given as a State assessment and that my children have taken much to their delight or chagrin I don't which and to the National Assessment Program.
I think, we're again, this a just sort of a model program that we've doing with North Carolina through the National Assessment Governing Board to see how States can make use of the National Assessment and what kinds of linkages can be made. I don't think we've issued a report on that yet. Certainly, there hasn't been any formal linking of the North Carolina assessment to NAGB.
Chairman Riggs. We'll ask Dr. and superintendent Ward to, perhaps, give us an update on that because that would be interesting to see if, in fact, there is an academic or substantive basis for making those kind of correlations between Statewide assessments and the NAEP.
Ms. Blanton. Yes, I think it's a very interesting
Mr. Truby. We will have a report on that the first of next month. You know it's not just a matter of linking the test and the test items, you have to go back and see if the curriculum is similar. What percentage of algebra and geometry do they have in the 8th grade as opposed to NAEP. So, if the curriculum matches then, you look at the items and then, hopefully, you can find a link and it's not easy to do.
I can tell you, in advance, the North Carolina link looks like it might be pretty close, but we won't have a final answer to that until about the first of the month.
Chairman Riggs. And are those the only two States?
Mr. Truby. Those are the only two because we are a very small organization. We can't do this 50 States. So, what we try to do, this model was expensive, and what we want to do is develop a prototype at some other agency like, Achieve or maybe some of the groups here that Achieve State school officers or the school board association, somebody might pick-up that prototype and do this for States that want it done.
But, now, especially with the Voluntary National Test and a small staff, we can't. But we think we have been able to develop a prototype so that others could use and it might even cross other subjects. We're doing this math. If they could use this process, and follow it. So, we're documenting it so that it's exportable.
Chairman Riggs. How did you pick North Carolina and Maryland?
Mr. Truby. They sort of picked us. We indicated an interest in doing this, and then, we had more States that really wanted to do this than we had the funds, at the time, to do. But, North Carolina and Maryland were first and loudest and most interested, so we sort of picked each other in this.
Chairman Riggs. Back to my other question to Mrs. Blanton or to you gentlemen if she would like to defer to you. How many States are imbedding NAEP questions in their State assessments? Do you know how many States are doing that now?
Ms. Blanton. We really wouldn't know that. They would, obviously, be questions that had been released to the public. So, they are in the public domain and could be imbedded. I do know that in 1994, North Carolina, again, did imbed NAEP mathematics questions from the 1992 assessment and did a linking study at that time to see if the North Carolina math assessment could be linked to the NAEP assessment. There was a report issued on that effort. And, I believe, there was one other study done in Georgia, if I'm correct.
Mr. Truby. I think the academy will include this as part of their overall study on linking as well.
Ms. Blanton. And I think, perhaps, Mike Ward can probably speak to that as well.
Chairman Riggs. While I have all three of you seated here at the witness table, is it your position, particularly, if you look at this imbedding question where States might I'm not saying they are but, might imbed many questions in their State assessments, that the testing or assessments really don't drive curricula and curriculum decisions? That's the contention, of course, of Chairman Goodling and many other people who have expressed reservations about any Federal Government involvement in individual student tests.
Chairman Goodling, of course, being a former educator is also of the opinion that we already have enough tests. We don't need more tests. But, I understand his concerns and the concerns of many of my colleagues about guarding against Federal involvement. Not just because it would be more Federal intrusion in public education which is, quintessential, a State and local responsibility. But, again, because you don't want to have any kind of nationally mandated curriculum.
Let me just put that out there as a statement, not so much a rhetorical question because then, I want to go on and ask you one other question. And I thank Mrs. Blanton for testifying or, at least, mentioning her testimony in this proposal. You may know that Congressman Martinez and I actually, with Congressman Martinez in the lead, co-sponsored a bipartisan resolution that, I believe, is scheduled for the House floor early next week that calls on State and local educational agencies to address the problem of social promotion.
So, suffice it to say, and I know Congressman Castle shares that concern. I believe we voice voted that bill out of our full committee. I believe, it will get substantial, if not, overwhelming support on the House floor. So there is Congressional interest and concern in this whole question of student promotion and looking at procedures for student advancement, or conversely, retention in State and local school districts.
Now, what I've been talking about is, perhaps, liking certain Federal taxpayer funding for certain Federal categorical education programs to a requirement that State and local school districts have in place some system of competency-based advancement for grade-to-grade advancement for graduation. Perhaps, that would restore more meaning and more market wares to a high school diploma. But, our concern I believe, is that we want to make sure that the students are learning in the core academic subjects.
One of the things that we're considering doing I'm considering doing is perhaps, asking NAGB to take some role here. It could be nothing more or less, for example, doing a report on the different criteria and the different systems in place out there across the country for student promotion. Gathering that data could, perhaps, act a clearinghouse at the national level.
But it seems to me that without getting into the area of national tests or national educational goals, it would be a good thing, perhaps, going so far again, as to conditioning Federal taxpayer funding for certain types of Federal categorical aid programs to require State and local educational agencies to have in place some system of competency-based advancement.
So, I want to make sure that, particularly, while I have all three of you at the table, that I have an opportunity to put that to you and get your response. If you want to elaborate at all, Mrs. Blanton, on your comments or written testimony, I want to give you the opportunity to.
Ms. Blanton. Well, I don't think I said in my oral testimony, but something that I do say in my written testimony and that is that it struck me that Achieve, which was a privately funded group under the auspices of the National Governor's Association. One of its main purposes was to provide just the kind of information you're talking about, that is a clearinghouse to provide information about State competency testing, State assessment plans, and State standards. That data my actually be becoming available as Achieve goes about gathering the data.
I would say, similar to what Mr. Truby was just saying a minute ago, the NAGB staff and, of course, the NAGB Board, we are people from all over this country. We are not Washington people. We come in to town four times a year to do our work as well as doing our committee work and having lots of teleconferences. And our staff is very small and we've already got the NAEP and the VNT. To add this, with the current staff level and the Board constituted the way it is, I would be surprised if we could do an appropriate and adequate job to a new mandate of that nature, and not, somehow, have our other duties impinged upon. And I would not want anything to impinge upon our duties with respect to the National Assessment Program because I really think that is crucial.
Again, I guess without knowing exactly how you would frame your proposal, it's hard to know whether or not those who were being certified as having the appropriate standards would feel that there is some connection between the National Assessment Program and this certification and I would not want that kind of coercive power to influence States in terms of their willingness to participate in the National Assessment Program.
I think it's something that, again, that there may be some other groups out there that are providing some of this information or, at least, making it available for the first time in terms of looking at the State and taking some stock of what various States are doing in terms of their costs.
Chairman Riggs. Well, again, I want to make clear, and I appreciate your comments, but, I want to make clear what I'm talking about because I haven't even conferred with any of my colleagues on this and that is: Requiring the States to certify that they have in place some system of competency-base if they expect to address this problem of social promotion. And perhaps, again, linking that to their eligibility for certain types of Federal taxpayer funding for education, whether it be specific types of categorical programs or for all, for that matter, all Federal education aid with the possible exception of IDEA because of the civil rights implications of that statute.
If there would, presumably, involve some sort of State and locally set educational goals, measurable goals, and some sort of State-designed standardized test or assessment for measuring progress toward achieving those goals, our interest would be in knowing that such a system is in place A and B, perhaps in gathering some data where we could attempt to make, as I think you put it, linkages or correlation from one State to another and gathering that data for the purposes, of course, acting as a clearinghouse and sharing that information between States.
But, to me, it seems somewhat of a good-faith compromise effort between the people who say, no, we want Federal Government hands-off in this area and those of us who have a real concern about student promotion practices in America in the all too common, too prevalent problem of social promotion.
I appreciate you giving me an opportunity to express my views and elaborate on the question that we posed to you. Congressman Martinez.
Mr. Martinez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm going to be very brief because I've got an appointment that I've got to get to before too long and I'd like to hear some of the testimony of the next panel. So I just have two quick questions in regard to your recommendations numbers 3 and 4. "The taking of modest action expecting merely EP legislation consistent with the governing Board's policy."
Now the governing Board is the governing Board. It does set the policy. What you're simply asking for is a codification of a policy is set in place in legislation?
Ms. Blanton. I think, what we're referring there is taking some steps to allow the governing Board to maintain and expand some of its authority. And I think, specifically, I mentioned the four-year member term was one thing that we would like to return to, rather than the three-year term that's currently in the legislation and several other minor things. I think, that we looked at the five-year reauthorization schedule, rather than its current three-year. And I believe, I mentioned a couple of others in there.
Mr. Martinez. There was one here that addressed the issue of independence of the governing Board. Right below it, the place where the Congress should deliberate on the nature of the degree of the independence that is appropriate for the governing Board to exercise.
Ms. Blanton. Yes. And that, again, I think, there have been some communications back and forth between the Board and the Subcommittee after the legislation and the last legislative changes that were made with respect to possibly changes. One of things, I think, is the delegations of authority with the Secretary in terms of some of our authorities to act without having to refer things back to him. Another one is nominations to the Board before the 1993 legislation, I believe, the Secretary chose Board members from a slate that was provided by the nominations committee at the Board, and the 1993 legislation removed that requirement, although, again, Secretary Riley has continued to request that the Board provide him with a slate of nominees for those positions.
Yes, an age-based reporting is currently a requirement under the law and we would like to move to grade-based reporting rather than age-based. Really, we've doing primarily grade-based reporting for a while now. But, we'd like just have the legislation changed in that way. So, I think there were three or four other changes in the legislation that we would propose.
And if Mr. Riggs would like us to provide in writing some sort of proposal for reauthorization, we'd be happy to do that.
Mr. Martinez. I think it would be a good idea. Mr. Riggs nods his head, yes. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Truby. Just one footnote on that, many of the delegations of authority provide NAGB much of its bureaucratic independence. We've always had intellectual independence and we don't clear speeches; we don't clear reports; but with the ability to let the Board hire its own staff to do its own contracting, many of those really actually came when David Kerns was the Under secretary and those delegations have been honored by Secretary Riley. But those delegations could be rescinded at any time, and so, the notion of codifying those delegations would assure the independence of future Boards.
Chairman Riggs. Congressman Castle, any further questions?
Let me ask, I'm sorry to do this Mrs. Blanton, but I want to ask you one other question, and then we'll call for the other panel. And, that is, that there were, in the early 1990's a number of studies done by GAO, by the National Academy of Sciences and others, that were critical of how NAGB went about setting the performance levels of basic proficient and advance. How has NAGB responded to these studies?
Ms. Blanton. Well, I think we have responded by incorporating a number of the recommendations made by the GAO study and by the NAS study. Our current achievement level setting process is probably one of the most comprehensive and validated processes that exists in the role of achievement level setting. We feel very confident of the process that we're now using. We're always ready for new suggestions and for modifications that will improve our ability to set achievement levels that are defensible, reliable and that represent a broad consensus of what students should do and should be able to do. But we feel very confident that we have addressed most of the suggestions that were made in those early studies.
Again, we were in the infancy of doing this in 1990 and 1991. We've come a long way since then. In both our redesign, and in our current procedures, we have addressed many of those concerns.
Chairman Riggs. Okay. Well, since we're going to be corresponding, obviously, let me ask you to direct staff to respond in a little bit more detail to those concerns and how you've responded to those concerns.
Mrs. Blanton, thank you, and gentlemen for being here today. We very much appreciate your participation and your very helpful testimony. We look forward to working very closely with you as we proceed here in the coming weeks on the reauthorization legislation. You are excused.
I call forward our second panel of witnesses, and I recognize Congressman Castle, the vice Chairman of the Subcommittee to introduce our first witness.
Mr. Castle. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And I'm pleased to introduce Nancy Doorey, who is here with us today and was selected by the governor of Delaware to serve a six-year term on the Delaware board of education and she brings a wealth of education to her testimony, even beyond what I do after reading her resume, as a teacher in elementary school, as well as college; she was the founder and executive director of the Copperplate Regional Library Foundation to construct the new regional public library; chaired the Statewide goal 200 educational technology committee as a candidate. Her doctorate is in educational leadership at Columbia University. She pursued further education and these are just among many other accomplishments.
She's been an outstanding member on the board, which is going through a lot of change, and I think, positive change frankly, in Delaware. I know it's been at the heart of a lot of that. So we appreciate all that she has done there.
STATEMENT OF NANCY DOOREY, DELAWARE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE BOARDS OF EDUCATION
Ms. Doorey. Thank you. Good morning, members of the Subcommittee. On behalf of the National Association of State Boards of Education, I thank you for the opportunity to appear before you and to discuss the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the National Assessment Governing Board, NAGB. Student assessments are one of the most important and high profile issues in education today. As a member of the Delaware State board of education, I am proud to serve a State that is nationally recognized as a leader in the discussion and policy evolution of standards, assessments, and now, accountability.
Members of the Subcommittee, we appreciate your recognition of the role of State boards in American education. We have extensive areas of jurisdictions, most importantly for the purposes of today's discussion. The State boards have authority over State assessment policy, including participation in NAEP, and therefore, have a particular interest in any modifications to this program.
From a policymaker's perspective, NAEP has long been a valuable tool in our efforts to improve schools, allowing us to track achievement level of our Nation's students by utilizing a consistent set of academic frameworks. And it's absolutely essential that the frameworks remain consistent. In the 1990's, NAEP was redesigned to be more user-friendly for the States. NAEP now reports State-level results increasing the relevance to State policymakers and allowing the general public to make achievement comparisons across State borders and over time.
In addition, NAEP's subject frameworks are invaluable to State educational leaders who use them to help develop and benchmark their own content and performance standards and to inform policy decisions.
Given NAEP's success, it's tempting to expand the program beyond its original purpose in order to address a multitude of other pressing needs for assessment data. For example, some people want district school or even individual results. We urge you to avoid this temptation, particularly in terms of providing school or individual-level data for a number of reasons.
First, NAEP fulfills a vital need for a non-political, criterion-referenced nationally representative test. While other assessments are used or misused for across State comparisons, the SAT for example, none have NAEP's controlled sampling or clearly defined achievement criteria which allow for truly accurate comparisons.
The fact is, NAEP is successful because it addresses a particular need and has a clearly focus. As we in the States know, no single test can do it all. That is why States establish assessment systems. It would be unfair and unwise to burden NAEP with extraneous provisions that move it away from its original purpose. Inevitably, a test asked to everything well, does nothing well.
Second, providing individual, school or even small district NAEP data inordinately magnifies the importance of these scores. It would inappropriately raise the stakes for individual students and schools. Beginning earlier in this decade, State-level data was made available which provided de facto stakes, since these scores are used to help determine how well the State system is performing and the media is quick to pick-up on it. We think this is appropriate.
However, many problems arise when you have such de facto stakes for schools or for individuals. Legislating even minor accountability provisions into NAEP will effectively hold students to two different sets of standards Federal and State. Such an approach, undermines the States' educational authority and places the Federal Government in the undesirable and, we believe, unwanted position of enforcing national standards, and perhaps, a national curriculum.
Finally, there are significant costs associated with school-level results because of the scientific need for a much larger sample size than is currently in place. NAEP was never intended to be given as a whole test to each student. Any attempt to have individual students take the entire test would entail substantially shortening the tests, and thus, drastically reducing their overall value to us.
In another important area, the full participation of all students in the testing samples is a great concern to NAGB, an organization in the vanguard of inclusive educational policies. We want to commend you again for acknowledging this need by requiring the inclusion of all students in IDEA and we hope this principle testing is embraced at the Federal level through NAEP, as it has been imposed upon the States through IDEA.
Perhaps the most critical issue is the need to insure program stability, and thus, the validity of the results over time. Toward that end, we ask you to consider an authorization length beyond the usual five-year period.
Before I make my final, most important point about the reauthorization of NAEP, I want to briefly comment on a proposal to make Federal categorical aid contingent upon States instituting high-stakes competency tests at every grade level and submitting their content and performance standards to NAGB or the DOE for comparative analysis. While we appreciate the underlying intent to encourage every State to establish and assessment system and to prohibit social promotion, the idea as outlined to us is ill advised.
As I noted, NAGB strongly supports the underlying premise of the proposal, primarily that all States have high standards and that every State have an assessment program in place. However, we believe it is up to each State to develop its own high-standards accountability system with input form the public and interested parties.
The last comment we would like to make has to do with the 26-member National Assessment Governing Board responsible for overseeing NAEP and issuing policy guidelines. There are certain interests that must serve on NAGB. Among the State education policymakers, governors, State legislators, chief State school officers, and State boards, only the State boards do not have two representatives serving on NAGB. This is a critical oversight. As noted earlier, State boards of education have authority over State assessment policy. As States continue to seek new ways to utilize NAEP, it is imperative that NAGB have sufficient representation from the very people who are responsible for incorporating NAEP data into their State's assessment and standards policies.
For this reason, we believe the requirement the requirement for a second State board of education member on NAGB, thus, equalizing their representation among State education leaders, is necessary.
Of course, we make this request to you, Mr. Chairman, and your Subcommittee while acknowledging that you have already recognized the role, responsibility and expertise of State boards on assessment policy by inviting NAGB to testify before you. And again, I want to thank you for this opportunity to speak at this hearing today. We look forward to continuing to work with you on the reauthorization of NAEP and NAGB and I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have after my fellow-testifiers have finished.
SEE APPENDIX D -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF NANCY DOOREY, DELAWARE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE BOARDS OF EDUCATION
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Mrs. Doorey, and I'm sorry I just stepped out while Congressman Castle was introducing you and I didn't hear if he was the governor who appointed you to the Delaware State Board of Education.
Ms. Doorey. No, sir, he was not. It was his successor.
Chairman Riggs. Do you know, just very quickly, aside, do you know how many in a given year how many Delaware school children take the NAEP? What percentage?
Ms. Doorey. No, I do not, sir.
Chairman Riggs. Okay.
Dr. Michael Ward is the superintendent of public instruction for the State of North Carolina and is here today testifying on behalf of the Council of Chief State School Officers. Dr. Ward, Superintendent Ward, thank you for being here. Please proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL F. WARD, SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, ON BEHALF OF THE COUNCIL OF CHIEF STATE SCHOOLS OFFICERS, RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA
Mr. Ward. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, I am Mike Ward, superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of North Carolina. It is my privilege on behalf of the Counsel of Chief State School Officers and my State to testify on the importance of the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
With apologies, I need to alert the committee that I will need to leave shortly after 2:30 because of a flight schedule, and I apologize for that conflict.
NAEP is essential for measurement of national results for measurement of State-by-State results to relay performance of U.S. students to those of other Nations. And it is essential if we are to provide voluntary individual student test scores in reading and mathematics which can be related to State, national and international performance.
In response to the request of the Committee on Education and Workforce for comments on the reauthorization of NAEP and the National Assessment Governing Board, NAGB, CCSSO's executive director sent a letter April 30, 1998 with comments about each of the 12 points raised. A copy of that letter is attached. In my testimony today, I highlight major recommendations from our council position and reinforce them on the basis of the value North Carolina has received from NAEP.
North Carolina endorses NAEP highly, and not just because our performance has shown marked improvement in recent years. NAEP is the only valid measure that North Carolina has to show our progress compared to that of the Nation. Results are reported to the citizens of our State, to our legislature, and to local school systems.
In the late 1980's, NAEP tests influenced the development of North Carolina's annual end-of-grade testing program. Because of that influence, our tests in many instances, mirror the format the rigor of NAEP.
Since 1994, we have provided information to local school systems showing how their 8th graders' mathematics performance compares Statewide and nationally based on NAEP. We look forward to the time when we can expand our use of NAEP to international comparisons. Our staff is studying the feasibility of tying NAEP achievement levels to the levels we use to gauge student performance a move that would strengthen the link between national, State, and local test comparisons.
We ask your consideration of the following recommendations in reauthorizing NAEP: Recommendation one: To provide stability and consistency for NAEP, we urge the committee to consider a 10-year authorization for NAEP and NAGB. This would provide the program a predictable 10-year schedule for the various subject areas that States could use in developing their long-range assessment plans. States need the assurance of a long-term commitment in order to expand use of NAEP.
Recommendation two: The National Assessment was originally designed to provide results for the Nation and four regions of the country. Its authorizations was expanded in 1988 to report results for States on a voluntary basis. NAEP's current authorization adds the ability to report results for school districts. At each of these levels, a snapshot of achievement based on a sample of students is meaningful and can be used to help guide policy decisions.
We support expansion of NAEP to allow for reporting results in school districts but not at the school level. Schools would be better served, we believe, by the individual student results provided by voluntary national tests of 4th grade reading and 8th mathematics, which will be linked to the NAEP frameworks and reported in terms of the NAEP scales and achievement levels. As you may recall, North Carolina was one of the first States to commit to the voluntary national testing program.
Recommendation three: The National Assessment of Education Progress serves as an important measure for monitoring progress toward the national education goals a the national, State, and large school district levels. It is not an adequate measure, given its basis in sampling, for such monitoring at many school district and individual school levels. The voluntary national tests are better suited to this purpose. That is why the council supports the development of both NAEP and the voluntary national individual tests, and continued responsibility of NAEP and the voluntary national tests under the policy-making authority of the National Assessment Governing Board.
Recommendation four: To provide greater frequency of NAEP assessments requires funding the Nation's report card at a level which support annual, rather than biennial data collection. We recommend annual data collection which will allow key subjects to be assessed more than once during a decade.
Recommendation five: The council is strongly supportive of linking NAEP to other assessments, including both State and international assessments such as TIMSS. It is essential that such linkages be statistically valid and reliable. They must also be comprehensible to the public and the education community with regard to the proposal to tie Federal aid to Statewide competency-based assessment or high-stakes for all students and NAGB review of State standards.
A couple of comments: As I understand the proposal, it would require any State that receives funds under even one Federal elementary and secondary program whether it's title I, title VI, Eisenhower safe and drug-free schools, to have all schools test all students at every grade and at the end of high school. This would include public and private schools, charter schools, perhaps even home schools. We believe this is unnecessary Federal policy. It would intrude upon State and local control of education. It would violate the policy of no Federal regulation of education.
We also believe that this proposal represents a potential for unfunded mandate and unfunded mandate on the States. The idea of having NAGB review and report on the quality of State standards would remarkably change the role of NAGB, create a potential adversarial relationship which, at present, does not exist, and for these reasons we have concerns about that particular proposal.
I'd like to thank the committee on behalf of council members for this opportunity to testify. NAEP is extremely important to our Nation and to our States. We stand ready to assist you in assuring that this assessment program continues to provide key time-lines for national and State performance and is expanded to meet new challenges for international and individual student results. Thank you.
SEE APPENDIX E -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF MICHAEL F. WARD, SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, ON BEHALF OF THE COUNCIL OF CHIEF STATE SCHOOLS OFFICERS, RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Dr. Ward. And we understand your time constraints and you can take your leave obviously when you need to.
I'm sure you know now that the TIMSS does make international comparisons. But, it's your testimony that NAGB should be able to correlate between the NAEP and the TIMSS?
Mr. Ward. We believe that those correlations would be
Chairman Riggs. And secondly, do you think that States should be able to use NAEP results to make school district-by-school district or individual school-to-school comparisons?
Mr. Ward. We believe that that could be useful for the district-to-district and State-to-State comparisons. Some district-to-district comparisons and some districts. In North Carolina, some rural districts, the student sample size is sufficiently small that if we continue on the sampling basis those comparisons might not be awfully helpful.
But for North Carolina, the State-by-State comparisons in particular, are particularly helpful because in the absence of such assessments and North Carolina has fared fairly well on those assessments and made considerable progress on those assessments we are left to such measures as the SAT, which has variable rates of participation.
Chairman Riggs. I can't conceive any scenario where we would mandate, in a talk-down manner that the results be used in that manner. But I could conceive a scenario where that perhaps States in more of a bottom-up fashion, could request that their own students' NAEP test results be used in that fashion, or perhaps we can explore that with you a little bit more. So, in other words, it would be a State-by-State decision and it would be a State option.
Mr. Ward. If I follow the question, we would support the use of the State-by-State comparison. And where feasible and where statistically valid, those district-by-district comparisons for the purposes obtaining insights into individual student performance, we continue to believe that the individual tests, the voluntary national test would serve the purpose better.
Chairman Riggs. And I understand that, but I want to make sure that you don't go away on the remiss impression particularly, since you're representing the council here today. What I'm talking about is perhaps including in the reauthorization, a provision that would allow the States to request the NAEP test results so that the States can make school district-by school district and school-by-school comparisons within that State. Okay?
Mr. Ward. I understand.
Chairman Riggs. As opposed to requiring that NAEP make that data available to all States participating in the NAEP because then we're leaving it basically, a State option. And in your case, as a superintendent, if you and the governor and the State legislature think that would be a good thing and a useful educational tool to have access to that data and to make those comparisons and to suffer the political consequences, if need be, or the political benefits for that matter then perhaps, it makes more sense to go about that way, bottom-up.
Thank you for being here.
We turn now to Mr. Larry Snowhite who is the General Counsel for NCA Enterprises is that correct, sir? He's testifying on behalf of the Riverside Publishing Company, CTB/McGraw Hill and Harcourt Brace, all very well established companies, very much involved in text book and test publishing.
Mr. Snowhite, thank you for being here. Please proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF LARRY SNOWHITE, GENERAL COUNSEL, MCA ENTERPRISES, INC., RIVERSIDE PUBLISHING, CTB/MCGRAW-HILL AND HARCOURT BRACE, WASHINGTON, DC
Mr. Snowhite. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you for the opportunity to address several key issues regarding reauthorization of the National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAEP.
Our companies are the three largest commercial test publishers in the country. We historically have been involved in meeting the needs of school districts and State education programs for various types of assessment instruments used to assist in measuring and evaluating the Nation's school children. These three companies develop, score, and provide reports on the tests that millions of elementary and secondary school students take every year. As assessment professionals, we understand and believe in high quality measurement as a vital tool for educational improvement. Indeed, the professional careers and reputations of our companies and employees are based on the ability to produce the highest quality assessments that are appropriate for their intended use.
NAEP is a very useful tool in evaluating what American students know. It's purpose is and should remain to provide a fair and accurate representation of educational achievement in reading, writing, and other subjects included in the third national education goal regarding student achievement and citizenship as provided for under current law.
Furthermore, this purpose should continue to be achieved through the use of sampling techniques that produce data that are representative on a national and regional basis. And on a State basis, only where the assessment produces high-quality data that are valid and reliable, also, as required by current law.
Any plans to expand the mission of NAEP whether dramatically by making it a high-stakes national test of individual students, or incrementally, by allowing districts or school-level reporting with the same potential for resulting high-stakes should be evaluated by Congress very carefully and approved before it is implemented. Congress must insure that any plan expansion would not endanger NAEP's core functions, nor disrupt NAEP's ability to produce valid, accurate, and reliable, consistent trend reporting.
An expanded NAEP will create pressure on school administrators and teachers to focus on the test. And as a result, build the State and local curricula around the NAEP frameworks. Congress must decide whether these frameworks are appropriate educational standards for the Nation.
Although the National Assessment Governing Board, NAGB is responsible for formulating policy guidelines for NAEP, Congress still has the primary responsibility to determine the purposes and scope of NAEP and the authority and responsibilities of NAGB. It is important that Congress not allow substantial changes to occur to NAEP by default.
This reauthorization is an opportunity for Congress to begin what is really a first ever comprehensive evaluation of NAEP and NAGB. Only minimal time was spent on NAEP during the 1994 reauthorization. There has really not been any comprehensive congressional oversight since NAGB was established in 1988 and when developmental State assessments were authorized in 1990. No expansion of the national or State assessment, major redesign, or changes to the composition or responsibilities of NAGB should be undertaken until such a comprehensive review by Congress has been completed.
The changes to NAEP enacted by Congress in 1990 have moved the program from a well-respected national indicator back to an evolving work-in-progress. Thus, we believe, it is premature to expand NAEP while key elements are still developmental in nature. Specifically, the State NAEP assessments and the student performance levels, now called achievement levels by NAGB are, by law, still developmental. In response to a Congressional mandate in the 1994 reauthorization, the National Academy of Sciences began a three-year evaluation of key aspects of NAEP. The study is due to be submitted to Congress at the end of September of 1998.
The study will address, among other issues: One, whether the state-level assessments in the NAEP program are properly administered, yield valid and reliable data, and provide information that is not otherwise available; and two, whether the performance levels are reasonable, valid, and informative. The State NAEP assessments will remain developmental unless, on the basis of the results of those evaluations, the Commissioner of Education and Statistics affirmatively finds that these State assessment produce high quality data that are valid and reliable.
Further, the student performance level also remain developmental unless the Commissioner determines, as a result of the NAS study, that such levels are reasonable, valid, and informative to the public. We urge that Congress undertake a thorough and independent review of the Commissioner's determination on these issues as part of any reauthorization.
Related evaluations on national testing issues are also scheduled to be the subject of two extensive studies by the National Academy of Sciences: one, on Appropriate Uses of Educational Tests; and the other on Equivalency and Linkage of Educational Tests. These two studies are to be submitted in final form to Congress in September as well.
Thus, while we recommend that NAEP should be reauthorized, any substantive changes to NAEP should be adopted, as I said, only after there has been an opportunity for Congress to consider thoroughly the NAS evaluations.
One brief comment on NAGB: NAGB is to address immensely complicated technical questions that have major impact on policy. Therefore, NAGB needs to have technical input by co-equally voting members, who include testing and measurement experts as provided under current law. Given NAGB's potential influence on the Nation's education system through the setting of the content and achievable level for NAEP, NAGB also needs to remain accountable to Congress, as well as to the Department of Education.
Mr. Chairman, let me conclude by reiterating publisher's concerns for the need for extensive oversight performed by the NAS studies prior to NAEP reauthorization. Because there does not now appear to be adequate time to give NAEP reauthorization the full consideration that is essential, we respectfully propose that NAEP should be extended for one year to enable the next Congress to review the NAS studies and complete the oversight that you are beginning now on the important issues relating to the future of NAEP and NAGB.
We look forward to continuing to work with the committee to provide the psychometric expertise and experience as test publishers to assist your efforts to review and reauthorize the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
We thank you for this opportunity to present the views of Riverside Publishing Company, CTB/McGraw-Hill, and Harcourt Brace Educational Measurement. I will be pleased to respond to any questions.
SEE APPENDIX F -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF LARRY SNOWHITE, GENERAL COUNSEL, MCA ENTERPRISES, INC., RIVERSIDE PUBLISHING, CTB/MCGRAW-HILL AND HARCOURT BRACE, WASHINGTON, DC
Chairman Riggs. Mr. Snowhite, thank you. And thank you also for pointing out, I think, very importantly that the current NAEP statute says that the NAEP State assessments shall be conducted. It's not discretionary or equivocal on a developmental basis until the Commissioner of the Educational Statistics determines that such assessments produce high quality data that are valid and reliable.
So, in our follow-up to today's hearing, we will query the Commissioner as to why they have not made that determination yet and when we might expect such a determination to be made.
Mr. Snowhite. I think the National Academy of Sciences study is due at the end of September. Under the statute, NAGB has, I think, 90 days to respond to that. There is no time limit for the Commissioner to respond to the NAS report.
Chairman Riggs. Very good, thank you.
We now turn to Dr. Martha Schwartz, who is a research associate at the University of Southern California and is testifying here today on behalf of the organization, Mathematically Correct. Please proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF MARTHA SCHWARTZ, MATHEMATICALLY CORRECT, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
Ms. Schwartz. Yes. I thank you very much for allowing me to come here and represent the parents from all over the country that we hear from all the time. We're a somewhat unusual organization so, I think I'll spend a minute saying who we are and what our concerns are.
We are a nationwide grass-roots organization, as much grass roots as you can be on the internet of concerned parents, mathematicians, scientists, and educators across the country. Our group is amazingly non-partisan. We are concerned about such things as equations in algebra class and long division in elementary school. These are hardly partisan issues.
The implication that females and minorities can't do math like other people should be opposed by everyone from left to right. Calculators in kindergarten? Our group is socialist to libertarian, and we all think that this is a bad idea.
Our parents-based uprising resulted from severe dissatisfaction with mathematics programs that had been showing up in the Nation's schools under the banner of reform, and was heightened by the poor showing of American students in comparison to other countries. And we note that the extreme weakness of these programs has been accompanied by a very high-powered rhetoric from the reform movement saying that we're dealing with high-order thinking skills and problem-solving skills and so forth. We believe, instead, that the reform is taking a bad situation and making it worse.
I want to point out here that the NAEP results, last year, were very useful to the parents' groups in California in pointing out that what we were doing in the State was not working very well.
We see sign from all over the country that we are slipping farther behind. Within the last week, we've heard from Michigan, we've heard from Texas. We hear from people from all over. And one of our real concerns is the quality of the standards the quality of the assessments that are offered to the students.
In 1996, we published a position paper calling for high-level standards in mathematics and regular assessment of these based on the guidance of an independent external body. And we see that one positive sign in American education, mathematics in particular, is that there is some movement in this direction. But, we've learned in our day-to-day activities that ineffective standards, slanted or sloppy, or unreliable tests are much worse than nothing at all and drive a very poor curriculum.
Done correctly, standards and assessments can provide a tremendous boost to education. Done incorrectly, they can further deteriorate achievement. And, our warning to you is that, if we do these assessments, State-by-State without the kind of very careful oversight that we've seen from NAGB, we can do this incorrectly in too many places.
We use, as examples, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Math Standards, which, oddly enough, even though they got approved by many mathematics organizations, failed to define, at any point, the actual material that students needed to learn as they move from grade to grade. They were full of rhetoric and very little in the way of real standards.
In California, we followed their guidance faithfully and very early. We were on the cutting edge of reform. As a result, schools in California are filled with textbooks that offer weak, low-level mathematic content, are full of color pictures and activities, and are accompanied by claims of potential accomplishments. Now our State is told by NAEP that we're near the bottom of the country in achievement. Most of our entering CSU university students now need remedial mathematics at the 8th and 9th grade level.
Further evidence of what goes wrong when people are sloppy in making standards and assessments comes from the Fordham Foundation report on mathematics standards. The mathematics standards for each State were graded and a median grade was a "D." The report notes the failure of almost every State to delineate even that which is to be desired in the way of mathematics education constitutes a national disaster. That's in spite of publishing standards, so-called.
We also, at home I'm from Los Angeles I live in Los Angeles Unified school district published their mathematics standards funded by the NSF Systemic Initiative and a comparison of those with the new California standards shows that their result is totally ineffective.
The bottom line is that unless we have the kind of daily vigilance of parents and people like myself, it's very difficult to get good assessments to have the proper approach to social promotion and so forth. You can cover a lot of very bad programs with very far away rhetoric.
I don't know how I'm doing on time here. Let me skip some of this. It's all written.
But, at this point, we're very afraid of losing the solid long term standing target that the existing NAEP test has given us. We do not want to have educational fads pedagogically driven enter into assessments which they are doing all over the country.
We ask, as recommendations: that the Congress do everything in its power to promote the development of explicit detailed objective content-based standards for learning and a reliable objective test to match the standards; if, that, Congress consider the criteria the standards as developed by the American Federation of Teachers and the Fordham report, that Congress work to provide even greater independence to the NAGB group so that it becomes even more immune to influences of fads, and the Department of Education and other organizations; that the Congress adjust the membership in NAGB in a way that offers parents as much say as possible in the assessment of their children; the Congress encourage a greater and more thoughtful contribution from senior level at University scholars and mathematics, and other disciplines and writing standards in designing assessments.
I want to thank you for inviting me here to speak. We're very, very interested in approving education. We need to do if the country is going to survive and we continue to offer opportunity to all of citizens. The members of Mathematically Correct stand ready to assist you in this effort.
SEE APPENDIX G -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF MARTHA SCHWARTZ, MATHEMATICALLY CORRECT, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
Chairman Riggs. Dr. Schwartz, thank you. We appreciate your testimony. We'll have an opportunity, I hope, to explore a couple of other subjects here when we get to the questions and answers. But you're no doubt aware that under current law the Board, and current law governing the Board and NAGB's composition, four members must be representatives of the general public including parents. And you're testifying today, and I'll probably ask Mr. Klicka, this as well, but you're testifying that you believe that number should be increased?
Ms. Schwartz. Yes. I hear from parents, I tried to access my e-mail yesterday and had some trouble, but there were 60 new messages that I was not able to read. We hear from parents all over the country. There's a great amount of concern on these issues. And, I think as much as possible, our parents want to be able to have more say over what's done to their children in school.
Chairman Riggs. Okay. Mr. Christopher Klicka? Am I pronouncing your last name
Mr. Klicka. It's Klicka.
Chairman Riggs. Klicka, is the executive director of the Home School Legal Defense Association in Purcellville, Virginia. Mr. Klicka, thank you for being here today. Please proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF CHRISTOPHER J. KLICKA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HOME SCHOOL LEGAL DEFENSE ASSOCIATION, PURCELLVILLE, VIRGINIA
Mr. Klicka. Thank you. A privilege to take this few moments to explain our position.
I'm senior counsel at the Home School Legal Defense Association and executive director for the National Center for Home Education. I've been involved for the last 13 years in education law and we've worked at the State levels in the courts, and I've also worked at the Congressional level. We worked hard to win the right for parents to choose home education, and we've seen what happens when the Federal Government tries to dictate educational policy to States. We would much rather work State-by-State.
One of our goals is to limit the Federal role in education and return the powers to the States which I'm thankful for the general direction that Congress is going now. But we're concerned that this gradual expansion that we've seen of NAEP and NAGB is going to lead to nationalizing education standards, curriculum and testing. We would agree with Chairman Riggs' early position or statement any way, that you made about whether or not NAGB and NAEP is doing too much. We think it is. We think we need to streamline. We need to have it simplified. We need to return to the core subjects.
Over the years, I know the committee is aware of the history of NAEP and how it's developed, but you've seen a steady growth in NAEP as it's increased its tall purview and the subjects that are being covered and amount of students that are being covered. Primarily, the biggest jump was in 1988 when NAEP's role was significantly expanded, authorizing development of these State assessments. In 1994, of course, that data could NAEP collect was expanded even further, and authorized State assessments became a regular feature of NAEP.
Now, of course, NAGB is working on this all-individualized national test which is also of major concern to us. We think the direction is clear. The expansion of NAEP and NAGB is leading us into nationalizing of educational standards, and eventually, curriculum.
An education specialist who had written a paper for the CRS called the National Assessment of Educational Progress, he stated this about this whole move into individualized national tests. He says, "given the impossibility of modifying NAEP to match the differing curricula in various States or LEA's, States and LEA's would likely have substantial motivation to modify their curricula to more closely matched NAEP's curriculum frameworks." This is exactly what the home schoolers are concerned about.
We represent about 60,000 home-school families throughout the Nation. We don't want Federal education standards dictated by the Department of Education. And, home-schoolers and I think, the majority of Americans, want more local control of education.
My testimony reflects pretty much the grass-roots perspective, not so much the educational experts motif that how mom and dad are worried. They don't know who NAGB is; they're concerned that it's going to be a top-down management.
We've seen NAEP expanded originally. It was just involved in its long-term assessment. It was expanded to main assessment, and now it has these State-by-State assessments. So the number being tested is increasing with each year. NAEP is beginning to shape State testing policy. In February of this year, the New York department of education announced they were going to replace their 15-year old PEP test People Evaluation Program with a new assessment. And they made sure that they were going to pattern the aspects of this test, particularly the schedule of when the test was given and this sort of a thing, with NAEP. And then, they wanted to compare and make subsequent adjustments once this began working in tandem with one another.
We did a survey just this past week of a number of State departments of education and interestingly enough, because we wanted to find out how NAEP was impacting education policy. In Georgia, the NAEP coordinator of testing evaluation admitted that discussions were taking place about making NAEP the State assessment, the primary assessment in the future.
In Michigan, we talked to NAEP coordinator for the Michigan Educational Assessment Progress and he indicated that NAEP was being used to affect, and shift, and change our education policy. We've heard just today from some of the panelist here, Nancy Doorey in Delaware, that they've used the NAEP's standards to help develop their own benchmarks and performance standards. And they used NAEP to change and affect their policy decisions. And we've heard from the North Carolina State superintendent.
We intend to make more use of NAEP in the future. The whole point I'm making here is, we're beginning to see that a lot of what's happening in our educational system across the country is being influenced and affected by NAEP, and we're concerned about that. We don't want the Federal Department of Education dictating these things.
There was a statement that recently was made by University of Kansas professor, John Poggio, in meetings back on February 28, 1997, when they were discussing at the U.D. Department of Education's Office of Educational Research and Improvement, the whole issue of national testing. And this is what this expert said.
"There is a sense, I think, we all recognize that what gets tested is what gets taught."
He further told the Department of Education, "and you're saying you're not controlling American curriculum? All of here will sit and tell you what we put on those booklets is what gets the attention of the teachers. You are altering what is going to be taught. You need to be aware of that."
And Rebecca Kopriva with the Delaware Department of Education echoed the same sentiment. She said, "we can't afford at the State level to have our tests to be significantly different than your national test even if we think it is significantly better because this is going to drive a lot of what we're doing."
Mary Blanton testified earlier and drew a distinction that NAGB is not making curriculum frameworks, but were rather, making assessments frameworks. Well, we disagree. We think that when you make assessment frameworks, you are going to affect the curriculum frameworks.
As you can see, the evidence is mounting up. That States are in the process of making adjustments to their education policy and their testing policy in light of the NAEP State assessment. And we believe Poggio was right, "what gets tested is what will be taught."
We've seen NAEP gradually expanding the subject areas and we've talked already about that today.
We see that there's problems with this background questionnaire that they're using. More and more questions, Mary Blanton was very clear, that they are open to adding and adding to this background information. We think it's somewhat of an invasion of students' privacy and that there is really a question of its usefulness for analytical purposes. The amount of background information collected, we believe, must be reduced in order to make NAEP more cost-efficient, enable a quicker turn-around for posting the test scores.
In many NAEP I think, it's becoming a national school board. And, we're very concerned about that because they're in charge. They're the ones who have the final say-so on all these questions and frameworks regarding this NAEP survey. This appointed 25-member Board, rather then elected 435-member Congress, looks to us, is shaping the future of education in America.
So, these are our basic recommended solutions to these different problems I've outlined.
One: We think we should go back to the basics, back to the core subjects of reading, writing, and math. That should be the purpose of this national assessment. These other subjects involved in the third national educational goal really should be taken out and focus on reading, writing, and math.
Two: We also believe this whole change in allowing for State assessments should be removed. Americans want local control of education. We need to let the States and localities create their own tests.
Thirdly: We believe that Congress should narrow the focus of NAEP back to its original intent of having long-term assessments rather than main assessments. The long-tern assessments don't change much over time and they allow for the assessment of year-to-year changes. Whereas the main assessment is vague and it changes on a regular basis.
Regarding the background, we believe that needs to be curbed.
And lastly: We would urge that the Congress add some language to the reauthorization bill that would specifically prohibit it from being redesigned into any type of national individualized test.
We appreciate the time that you've given us for our views to be heard and we really urge the Congress to curb NAEP, cut-back NAGB, and to return as much as possible the forwarded tests and back to the States.
Thank you very much for your time and consideration in this matter.
SEE APPENDIX H -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF CHRISTOPHER J. KLICKA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HOME SCHOOL LEGAL DEFENSE ASSOCIATION, PURCELLVILLE, VIRGINIA
Chairman Riggs. Mr. Klicka, thank you. And thank you very much for raising the concerns of home schoolers nationally.
I want to be sure I understood what you said with respect to Georgia. You said that Georgia is now currently embedding NAEP questions in its State assessments. Is that correct?
Mr. Klicka. We specifically asked them how NAEP was affecting their overall testing policy and educational policy, and they indicated discussions were taking place where they were considering using NAEP as the primary assessment tool in the future in their State.
Chairman Riggs. I see. Are you aware of any other States that have similar plans?
Mr. Klicka. Some of the other States I mentioned was Michigan. It did not say it was to become their primary assessment, but they said that it was impacting, heavily, their education policy and their testing process that they were doing. And, we found similar comments from a lot of States. As I said, even from some of the analysts here.
We just see an overall influence of NAEP that is to us, we fear, because we see, again, a top-down restructuring that can come from We're not saying that this is going to create a national curriculum, but default, it very well might in the direction that we're going. Here are these same concerns for the individual on nationalized tests, but we see with the expansion of NAEP, were turning into that same direction.
Chairman Riggs. I have one question before we turn to Mr. Rodriguez.
I really want to understand this point. Your concern, as I understand it, is that if States imbed any questions in State assessments or if they just adopt the NAEP test as the preferred State assessment that this is effectively kind of creating an alternative to the national testing.
Mr. Klicka. That's right. In one sense, we're having this big debate over a national test that Clinton has put forth and it looks like Congress is voting it down, the House and the Senate. But then, on the other hand, we're seeing NAGB just gradually being expanded more and more subjects, more and more States, more and more students and, in effect, it is having the same effect and that's what we're concerned about. We want to narrow NAEP. We pull it back to some of its original long-term assessment intent.
Chairman Riggs. Our final witness of today is Mr. Ambrosio Rodiguez. He is testifying on behalf of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and is associated with the Washington, D.C. office.
Mr. Rodriguez, thank you for being here. Please proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF AMBROSIA E. RODRIGUEZ, ESQUIRE, MEXICAN AMERICAN LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND, WASHINGTON, DC
Mr. Rodriguez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon, and thank you for this opportunity to testify.
My name is Ambrosio Rodriguez. I am an attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund or MALDEF. MALDEF is a national organization that protects and advances the civil rights of the over 27 million Latinos in the United States. On behalf of Latinos, we focus primarily on education, employment and economic development, immigrant's rights, political access, and public resource equity issues. We use a variety of approaches to ensure that Latinos re empowered to participate full in this society; the public policy advocacy, mid-career leadership development, parental leadership development, scholarships, and impact litigation.
MALDEF agrees with the goal that our children should be held to high standards. Schools, school district, and States should beheld accountable for the educational progress of all children, and well-informed parents should be key participants in ensuring a quality education for their children.
Although we agree in theory with the concept of a national assessment, we are concerned with its practice and implications. First, we are concerned about the role of NAEP tests should they have high-stakes consequences or become the basis for a voluntary national test. If the latter, are we as a Nation prepared to implement a national curriculum? If NAEP becomes the national test then will it become the national benchmark for success? The items on the NAEP will become the national curriculum. A national curriculum would be a logical conclusion of a national high-stakes test because any parent, child, school and school district would want to do well on such a national benchmark. However, there is no national consensus on what should constitute a national curriculum.
A perfect example of the divide between NAEP's national curriculum standard and the reality of what is currently happening in America's schools is the 8th grade mathematics test designed by NAEP. In a letter to the Chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, the Honorable Mr. Goodling, NAGB stated that the 8th grade test includes "geometry and algebra." Unfortunately, according to the Department of Education, only 27 percent of which, 20 percent of black, and 20 percent of Hispanic 8th graders have taken algebra I which means that none of these students have taken geometry or the requisite algebra II.
In other words, even those students that are fortunate enough to be placed in advanced classes, such as algebra, I cannot possibly meet the standards of NAEP. It is laudatory to encourage all 8th graders to complete algebra I and II as well as geometry, but until that becomes the rule and not the exception, NAEP is setting-up a large percentage of our students to fail.
Adopting a national curriculum through the NAEP test would impact local control and innovation, two aspects of the American school model that have worked to the advantage of our children. A national curriculum would discourage local schools from developing innovative programs that push their students to explore new ideas and academically grow through analyzing different subject matter because of the success or failure of any school would be based on its NAEP score. Local schools will become fixated on a curriculum that only prepares the students for the exam.
This is a dangerous proposition since there is no agreement, outside of NAGB, that a national curriculum constitutes sound educational policy. It is sufficiently problematic to adopt a national test with unaccepted standards but to compliment this test with a curriculum that will be taught throughout the entire Nation seems to be premature and an unnecessary experiment. Local schools depend on innovation to meet the ever-changing needs and challenges of their students.
Moreover, in a county as large and diverse as ours different localities have different emphasis. The curriculum in San Francisco is different from the curriculum in Buffalo which is different from the curriculum in Miami. A national curriculum implemented to match the NAEP test would unwisely exchange innovation for blind conformity.
Educators are building a consensus around what should constitute as a national standard and curriculum framework and how we should teach those standards. One of NAGB's goals is a set of frameworks for a 10-year period. It would be highly premature and counterproductive to allow NAGB to implement national standards before educators come to a consensus as to what should constitute national standards. To implement standards to which no one has agreed to would only serve to add to the controversy among educators, parents, and politicians over what knowledge is to be assessed.
If NAEP is to become our national curriculum, how will it be taught at schools? Who will get the materials? How will the teachers be trained? And who will pay for it? The implementation of a national curriculum that prepares students for an assessment test raises questions over the fundamental opportunity of limited-English proficient students and minority students to learn.
Unfortunately, the schools attended by LEP and minority children are highly underfunded, segregated, and under-served. These schools cannot afford the extra cost associated with this test. If poor urban and rural schools are to meet these new standards, they should be funded to train their teachers, buy new schoolbooks, and any other related expense before the name goes into effect. If students cannot prepare, they cannot succeed, and their failure will only become a self-fulfilling prophecy as these schools continue in a circle of poverty and under-achievement.
I see I'm out of time. Let me just go to my conclusion.
Chairman Riggs. In the interest, we're interested in any specific recommendations you have for the reauthorization. I understand that you have concerns, but any specific recommendations and then, your conclusion.
Mr. Rodriguez. Okay. I think the recommendations are still being detailed and they are being turned into the Subcommittee at a later date. So, I can stop now. Thank you.
SEE APPENDIX I -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF AMBROSIA E. RODRIGUEZ, ESQUIRE, MEXICAN AMERICAN LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND, WASHINGTON, DC
Chairman Riggs. Okay. Thank you, Mr. Rodriguez.
I understand that Mr. Rodriguez and Dr. Schwartz have advised caution, as have Mr. Klicka and Mr. Snowhite has counseled to go slow-approach, which I think is wise. But I want to give Mrs. Doorey and Dr. Ward, Superintendent Ward an opportunity to respond particularly to the concern that there are the recommendation of some of our witnesses today that the mission of NAEP should be narrowly focused and not expanded in any way. Mrs. Doorey, why don't you respond first.
Ms. Doorey. First if the concern is making it narrower in terms of the number of content-areas assessed, I think we do have to weigh that against the national message as to what we consider to be a well-rounded education in this country. And so, having a focus on poor-content areas is certainly valid. But do we want the message to be that those can be emphasized within schools on a daily basis at the expense of foreign language and some of the other courses. I think we have to weigh those issues very carefully because NAEP will carry a lot of weight. It is the one assessment we have to compare State-to-State, and people do pay a great deal of attention to those.
So, I would argue on behalf of making sure the message to our States is very clear, that we value a broad well-rounded education.
Concerning I'm sorry, I forget where I was going to go with this
Chairman Riggs. Let me ask you a follow-up real quick. Are you an appointed or elected official in Delaware?
Ms. Doorey. Appointed.
Chairman Riggs. Gubernatorial appointee?
Ms. Doorey. Yes.
Chairman Riggs. Does your appointment require the confirmation of the Delaware State Legislature?
Ms. Doorey. Senate, yes, sir.
Chairman Riggs. Delaware State Senate.
How do you respond to the concern, Mr. Klicka and other parents, particularly, when you talk about using the NAEP to set Statewide benchmarks in Delaware? How do you, in your official duties in your capacity as an appointed Stated education official, how do you respond to parents? Because you must hear some of those same parental concerns.
Ms. Doorey. We have not have a great deal of parental concern about using the NAEP. And I guess part of that is because NAEP does the matrixing. So they have an extremely large item set to work from. It's very, very broad. If it was an individualized assessment, as we said, you'd have to narrow it down in terms of the number of items in order to bring it into a time limit. And you would narrow the curriculum, you would narrow the focus.
And the matrixing they do, allows them to be very broad and comprehensive. It's also acknowledged as we show people some of the publicly released items that these are quality items that really force students to know the content matter, think carefully, and to produce some solid work. So, usually if we run into any strong concerns, we will bring out some of the publicly released items and the concerns are overcome.
I feel that NAEP is high enough quality that it challenges us to improve our State assessments by benchmarking to NAGB.
Chairman Riggs. I am assuming Delaware has an open meeting law in that the meetings and deliberations of the State board of education are all public?
Ms. Doorey. Absolutely.
Chairman Riggs. Dr. Ward, you and the other chiefs want to see NAEP, and specifically, the mission of NAGB potentially expanded. That is on top of all the other things that the NAGB is doing now, over-and-above testing in all the different subject areas; comparing test scores among States; looking at background factors, I think, which is one of the things that really raises red flags with Mr. Klicka and the home schoolers; correlating different levels of achievement on the NAEP; trends and educational equity as reflected in differences in scores for females versus males, or peoples of different racial or ethnic groups; linkages to international assessments like the TIMSS which I asked you about. So how do you respond to the concerns that the NAGB is getting too far-field here?
Mr. Ward. We live in an era of accountability, Mr. Chairman. The concerns of the same community that have been raised today, that same community has concerns also about accountability for a product in schools and a consensus-based system of assessment. One that has barred public input and bipartisan input and then is guided by a bipartisan board, we believe, serves as a very useful tool for public accountability. A public that wants us to hold students to high academic standards and wants some uniformed gauge by which to measure whether or not we're actually delivering on that necessity of the community.
The public wants to see us close-up gaps by race, gender, and social economic status. We have to have a fairly uniform gauge by which to do that and one that has a utility across districts, across State lines, and across national borders. We need a mechanism for making those kinds of comparisons so that we can be held accountable for the product we deliver and so the we can be held accountable to our charge that our youngsters fair well in the system.
I would agree with earlier observations that if the only purpose of assessment whether it's the current system of assessment made available through NAEP or the possible future voluntary individual tests, and if the only purpose is to name and blame and not to direct us to commit additional resources and attention to areas where they're most needed, then we don't need to go down this path, we don't need to spend this money and we don't need to commit your good-time here or our time.
But if the purpose is to hold us accountable to deliver for all students, and to deliver well, then this is a useful enterprise and one that needs to be expanded.
Chairman Riggs. Correct me if I'm wrong, didn't the counsel go on record as supporting the President's proposal for voluntary national testing?
Mr. Ward. Voluntary national testing in reading and mathematics; that's correct.
Chairman Riggs. Well then, I don't understand that because obviously, your colleagues in most of States, not all of them, because there is another group, but most of the States are active members of the Council of Chief States School Officers, yet their home States have not indicated that they want to participate. In fact, the great majority of States have not indicated. Why is that?
Mr. Ward. I can't speak for the balance of the States; they're not here. The council, itself, has expressed interest in the national test, and I can speak for North Carolina's interest and the reasons underlying North Carolina's interest. But, I don't know the answer to your question.
Chairman Riggs. And why are you trying to link the State assessments in North Carolina to the NAEP? You touched on that, but what is your long-term intention?
Mr. Ward. Two reasons: First of all, we have found the rigor and the type of assessment that NAEP has generated to be of high-quality and to be very useful in North Carolina. We have not found that North Carolina has had to drive a curriculum in response to NAEP. In fact, we have that we believe that our teachers and our folks in North Carolina ought to drive that curriculum. Our folks have developed curriculum and then we imbedded items from NAEP that we've found to be consistent with that curriculum, and we have used NAEP-like items to help drive our testing program in North Carolina.
But we have found them to have good utility for those purposes, but without having to yield to some sort of national curriculum. In particular, I think reading and mathematics are areas upon which we can build a fair amount of consensus and these items have been particularly useful in reading and mathematics.
Chairman Riggs. For Dr. Schwartz and any other witness who would like to respond, do you think that currently the NAEP results are being published and in disseminated in a format that is user-friendly for parents? And if not, what can we do to improve on that so that the layperson could more easily understand NAEP results, and more importantly, what the NAEP results mean?
Ms. Schwartz. I'm really not sure because I'm a scientist and I look at them and I have no problem. So, I really can't
Chairman Riggs. You wouldn't be a good example of a layperson then, you're saying.
Ms. Schwartz. I'm afraid not. We do sort of clearinghouse things for parents all over the to me, the real importance of something like the NAEP test is the fact that it's rigorous and that it does contain appropriate mathematics content. We at Mathematically Correct, really consider this an equity issue; that one of the things that we do is that we collect information on whatever measurement we can get about schools and compare them, those that are doing well with schools with similar demographics which are not doing very well. It would be nice actually for us to be able to have scores on school level to be able to do that with.
For example, we recently got information from a school in Inglewood, California. Inglewood is a socio-economically deprived area in which one particular elementary school is 30 or 40 percentile points above in reading and mathematics on one of the standardized tests and I forget which one it is than the rest of the school district and well above the national average. So we were able to simple phone the principal and say well, what do you do here?
And we can make that information available on our website. I think this is a very important thing to be able to do.
Chairman Riggs. Do you think it's useful or important to study, for example, the correlation or linkage between the NAEP test in math and science in the TIMSS?
Ms. Schwartz. I'm not sure there is any correlation in the sense that they sample totally different populations, the country as a whole versus the State's against each other. We know in California that the United States did not do well in the 8th grade TIMSS. And, California students did particularly poorly on the NAEP in comparison to the rest of the United States. So, we know we're pretty far into the cellar, but we can't make any direct comparison between the tests.
Ms. Doorey. Mr. Chairman, may I add on that question?
Chairman Riggs. Of course.
Ms. Doorey. I believe it is important to have the linkages there because as we give the public bulk data, and we say here are how the States rank against one another for how they're comparing. And then we say here's how the United States as a whole compares to other countries. We do need some consistency. But we're making that leap.
In comparing our performance, we're at the mid-point in the United States. We're scoring average and if the United States is very low on TIMSS internationally, that tells us something. But we need to make sure the assessments are linked in order to come to those conclusions.
And on your earlier question about the use of the NAEP items and the public understanding them, I would argue that the most important aspect of the release of those items publicly is the initial shock if it comes how does your State rank. How is your State doing? And it's a motivating factor that rallies people as Congressman Castle pointed out, we were not happy in Delaware and it caused a great rallying of energy and commitment.
Beyond that, I'm not so sure that it's important because the next step is what Congressman Martinez pointed out which is then figuring out what you're going to do to improve. And we have a tension here between the amount of money we invest in assessing and the amount of money we invest in improving teaching and learning. So to have an assessment like NAEP that gives us the solid information, single-shock that we need, but not to go and invest in mandatory testing in every grade-level that has to meet the rigor for court cases court challenges, etcetera but instead, to take the other monies and invest them in improvement of teaching and learning. I think we'll come out far better.
The role of the test ought to be to give us this benchmark and give us the message and follow the rest to the classroom and away from the classroom.
Chairman Riggs. Well, I appreciate that point. Of course, the NAEP, the NAGB likes to call the NAEP the Nation's report card, comparing it to school-aged children. Most of time report cards come home with Johnny or Susie. I don't know that Johnny and Susie are bringing home the NAEP results. And I think the way this information is usually disseminated to the parents, the consumers of education is through basically, if there is any interest at all, it's a newspaper headline. And the newspaper headline usually is something along the lines of "U.S. Kids do Poorly" or "Suffer in Comparison to Their Counterparts" and when we're making international comparison, their counterparts in the other industrialized nations. They didn't get much beyond that.
So, I wonder if, going back to the concerns of parents, one of the ways that we can address that concern, is to make sure that this information is more readily and more easily understood by parents and then somehow, some way, put in a more, as I put it parent-friendly format.
Dr. Ward, you look like you want to comment.
Mr. Ward. I do. In North Carolina we're actually constructing a report card now that we'll report NAEP results to parents across the States. So, that in addition to that information on an individual child's performance and the State testing program, they'll also get some information about NAEP and NAEP results from the State as well.
I would add that that interest in the NAEP would increase remarkably if a NAEP-like voluntary test for individual students in the 4th and 8th grades were to be implemented.
Chairman Riggs. You couldn't resist that, could you?
Chairman Riggs. Mr. Rodriguez, you made the comparison between San Francisco and other school districts, and I would submit to you that San Francisco is like no other school district.
Mr. Rodriguez. I know.
Chairman Riggs. Well, that said, I want to make sure I understand your concern of when you talk about NAEP being used as high-stakes tests. What exactly do you mean by high-stakes?
Mr. Rodriguez. Well, high-stakes we talk about lack of graduation or being promoted to the next grade level. It all has to do with the idea that I mentioned in my testimony, if NAEP becomes basically if all States begin to use it as a benchmark for success, it becomes a national model, it kind of snowballed into a national assessment test overall. Like I mentioned in my testimony, in a way, there's really nothing wrong with that, but it's just the way its being done and how we're going to it, and the whole idea of the Federal Government, the Federal agency just taking control over it.
The importance of local and innovation we count on that for these small ideas, these parents groups, or teachers with a new crazy idea that kind of just gets the ball rolling. These great ideas, educational reforms kind of germinate from there and spread across the country.
Chairman Riggs. I'm very pleased to hear you say that because I happen to agree with that. Has MALDEF taken a position on the President's national testing proposal?
Mr. Rodriguez. What we've taken a position on is the whole issue of the 4th grade test not being able to properly assess bilingual students because of not being in Spanish. That to us, is one of the big, major problems.
Chairman Riggs. Okay.
Mr. Snowhite, I'm interested in your opinion and the opinion of your client whether the currently established achievement levels basic, proficient, and advanced are appropriate or are they too high, or conversely too low?
Mr. Snowhite. We do not. That's a matter, as we pointed out, that's been subject to a fair amount of controversy one that is still subject to considerable review. It is the basis for the proposed voluntary national tests. I also point out that the commercial test publishers do provide performance-based scores on their tests, in addition to providing a norm reference comparative basis and also, a standards-base of criteria reference so that you do have a list of one test that can provide a variety of different types of information. They have looked at the NAEP standards and others, and probably would say they have made some improvements over the NAEP procedures.
Chairman Riggs. How many States are currently using some sort of standardized test and off-the-shelf test, for example, published by one of your clients?
Mr. Snowhite. Virtually, all of the States. The numbers will vary. We've given some general numbers of 20 to 25 million students are taking the standardized tests. The commercial test publishers are also involved in virtually all of the States that have developed our developing Statewide assessments. The chiefs survey was 46 States and I have Statewide assessments. I'm not sure they include the Iowa testing program where virtually all of the schools in Iowa voluntarily administer the Iowa test of basic skills which is authored by the University of Ohio program and published by Riverside.
Chairman Riggs. And are any of your clients currently serving on the NAGB which has three positions for "testing and measurement experts who shall training and experience in the field of testing of measurements?
Mr. Snowhite. No.
Chairman Riggs. Okay. All right.
Well, I want to thank all of our witnesses for their participation in the hearing today. It's been very helpful. You know that this reauthorization is a priority among many others for this committee in the winning days of this particular Congress.
We will continue to solicit your help and advice with some of the reauthorization issues that we have discussed today, specifically: NAGB's future involvement, if any, in the national testing development contract and any implications of the national test initiative; the levels at which NAEP is administered and scores are reported; the breadth of NAGB's current activities and whether the scope of NAEP and NAGB should be more narrowly focused; the number of subjects tested under NAEP; the continuing validity of existing student performance levels; the use of testing technology; the models or the modes rather, of testing and the range of skills tested; the inclusion of disabled or limited-English proficient students; a complexity of the design of the NAEP; and some of the management issues relating to NCES and NAEP.
So again, your advice and participation today has been very helpful and we look forward to working with each of you in the coming weeks.
The Subcommittee stands adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 2:40 P.M., the Subcommittee adjourned subject to the call of the Chair.]