HEARING ON "OVERVIEW OF TESTING / STANDARDS AND ASSESSMENTS IN THE STATES"
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
HEARING HELD IN WASHINGTON, DC, FEBRUARY 23, 1998
Serial No. 105-73
Printed for the use of the Committee on Education
and the Workforce
STATEMENT OF DANIEL M. KORETZ, SENIOR SOCIAL SCIENTIST, RAND INSTITUTE ON EDUCATION AND TRAINING *
TABLE OF CONTENTS
OVERVIEW OF TESTING/STANDARDS AND ASSESSMENTS IN THE STATES
STATEMENT OF EVA L. BAKER, CO-DIRECTOR, UCLA CENTER FOR RESEARCH ON EVALUATION, STANDARDS, AND STUDENT TESTING (CRESST) *
STATEMENT OF THOMAS DAVIS, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE BOARDS OF EDUCATION *
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE TERRY BRANSTAD, GOVERNOR, STATE OF IOWA *
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE FRANK BROGAN, COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION, FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION *
STATEMENT OF HON. MICHAEL WARD, STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION *
APPENDIX A -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF DANIEL M. KORETZ, SENIOR SOCIAL SCIENTIST, RAND INSTITUTE ON EDUCATION AND TRAINING *
APPENDIX B -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF EVA L. BAKER, CO-DIRECTOR, UCLA CENTER FOR RESEARCH ON EVALUATION, STANDARDS, AND STUDENT TESTING (CRESST) *
APPENDIX C -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF THOMAS DAVIS, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE BOARDS OF EDUCATION *
APPENDIX D -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE TERRY BRANSTAD, GOVERNOR, STATE OF IOWA *
APPENDIX E -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE FRANK BROGAN, COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION, FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION *
APPENDIX F -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF HON. MICHAEL WARD, STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION *
TABLE OF INDEXES *
Monday, February 23, 1998
House of Representatives
Committee on Education and the Workforce
The Committee met, pursuant to call, at 12:30 p.m., in Room 2175, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. William F. Goodling [Chairman of the Committee] presiding.
Present: Representatives Goodling, Martinez, and Scott.
Staff Present: Kevin Talley, Staff Director; Kent Talbert, Professional Staff Member; Richard Stombres, Legislative Assistant; June Harris, Minority Education Coordinator; Margo Huber, Minority Staff Assistant; and Alex Nock, Minority Legislative Assistant.
Chairman Goodling. Good afternoon. Today our hearing will focus on two things: first, a broad overview of testing; second, State standards and state assessments. The hearing is the second of several hearings we will have this year on testing-related matters, and as a follow-up to the national testing debate of last year.
Having spent over 20 years of my life in public education, I am keenly aware of the important role academic standards and tests play in helping Americans understand how well their children are learning. I believe the best standards and assessment policies are those developed at the State and local levels, involving wide cross-sections of the local citizenry, parents, teachers, administrators, and testing experts. Any Federal involvement must be carefully and thoroughly scrutinized.
Back in March of 1991, I wrote about my concerns about spending more Federal dollars on national testing in my weekly commentary called "Plain Talk," quote: Resources would be far better spent on educating our children rather than testing them. The emphasis should be on parental involvement, adequate funding, high-quality teaching, and the development of curriculum programs that respond to the education needs of our students. That was back in 1991.
We know from the 1996 National Education Goals report, at least 32 States have developed State standards, and an additional 14 report that standards development is underway. We also know that 45 States report that they have statewide assessment systems, and that 23 States report that they have aligned their assessments with their standards. An additional 21 report that they are in the process of doing so.
With all these State activities on standards and assessment, the question becomes what impact would national tests in fourth grade reading and eighth grade math have upon what States and local governments are already doing in the areas of standards and assessment. Hopefully, our testimony today will help answer the question.
Last year, the House and the Senate voted to prohibit pilot testing, field testing, implementation or administration of any national test in fiscal year 1998, but did allow very limited test development activities to go forward.
What, if anything, happens on national testing beyond fiscal year 1998 is an open question and subject to the actions of Congress. We have several fine witnesses with us today and I am grateful to each of you for taking the time to be here.
On our first panel, we will hear from Dan Koretz of the RAND Corporation; Eva Baker, the co-director for the UCLA Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing; and Thomas Davis, a member of the Missouri State Board of Education and the immediate past president of the National Association of State Boards of Education.
And on panel 2 we have the Honorable Terry Branstad, the Governor of Iowa; the Honorable Frank Brogan, the commissioner of education in Florida; and the Honorable Michael Ward, the State superintendent of public instruction in North Carolina.
I will now yield to my ranking colleague for any opening statement he may have.
Mr. Martinez. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Today I make the statement on behalf of the ranking member, Mr. Clay, who could not be here with us this morning, since he is traveling back from his district.
I am pleased to join the Chairman in welcoming the witnesses before this Committee today. I do want to extend a special welcome to Dr. Eva Baker who is from my home State of California. It is always good to see another Californian testifying before our Committee.
I do want to take a minute to explain the lack of attendance by the members that you see. We have two on our side and one on Mr. Goodling's side. As many in the audience might know, today is the last day of our district work period. That means members are home in their districts meeting with their constituents and local officials. While many pressing demands are placed on a Member of Congress by his or her constituents, time spent back home is very, very important and useful in properly representing one's district. Unfortunately, this means only a few of our colleagues will be able to join us today. For this reason, the scheduling of this hearing, in view of the important nature of its topic, should have been on a day when the House was in session, allowing a greater number of Committee members to have benefit of the witnesses' testimony. I am sure the Chairman agrees with the goal of allowing a maximum member participation, so I am at a loss as to the reason we are here today on a Monday.
I will simply point out for the record that there should be an increased media presence here today since nothing else is happening on the Hill, and I don't see it. This is a very important topic and they should be covering it.
Regardless, I am positive the members in attendance are appreciative of the witnesses' appearances here today and look forward to their testimony.
On February the 5th, I would like to remind you all, the House passed Chairman Goodling's legislation, 2846, without the support of many Democrats. This was a significant turnaround from the votes the House took only a few months before during the consideration of the 1997 Labor/HHS appropriation legislation. I was one of those members, and so was the ranking member, Mr. Clay, who opposed national testing for very many of the same reasons that Mr. Goodling has outlined in his opening statement, but we voted against the Chairman's bill, and this vote didn't really mark a reversal of our position; rather, this was meant to send a message that the House and this Committee should be focused on the issues of importance to the American people: infrastructure improvements for our Nation's schools to our children who are learning in quality environments.
I have recently read articles where they say our children are learning in garbage dumps, and in many districts like mine, that is absolutely true. The deterioration of high schools and middle schools and elementary schools is deplorable, and in a country like this, we should not be allowing this to happen.
There are things like the quality of environment in schools we need to address, funding to hire and train 100,000 more teachers and to reduce the class size. In our State of California, as Dr. Eva Baker knows, the Governor has called for the downsizing of classes, and with that downsize and splitting the classes up into more classes, you are going to need more teachers. Where is the money going to come from? They need to support local efforts to improve and revitalize those community schools that exist in those districts, since schools are really a responsibility of the State and local districts. That vote also was to send a message that the Congress should stop grandstanding on the issue of national testing and concentrate on assisting the educational efforts of our States and communities.
My understanding is that this hearing is intended to begin our Committee's work on the reauthorization of the national assessments of educational progress and the National Assessment Governing Board. If this hearing stays focused on those programs and the efforts of States to assess their students, I believe it will be useful in our deliberations. While the topic of national testing is sure to come up in this context, I would be strongly disappointed if this hearing breaks down into another partisan attempt of discrediting the efforts of the administration. This hearing should be a substantive policy discussion over the testing issues which confront this Committee, not an effort to gain support for an ideological agenda.
I have a great respect for the Chairman and have always admired his work, both presently and when they were in the Minority. I hope this Committee stays away from efforts to demagogue national testing and focuses on addressing the many pressing issues we must deal with this year in a bipartisan fashion. That has been the tradition of this Committee for so many years, and I want to thank the Chairman for it.
I would just like to add, in talking in the discussion of testing and the work the first witnesses are going to cover you know, I have always wondered, ever since I was a child in school and studying myself, we have periodic tests in the class, but they are only to give us a grade, not to measure what we need or what we are lacking; and I always thought the testing in this country ought to really take on a nature of testing for, not just the sake of measuring across the board in a State against other children or on a national basis, States against States or countries against countries, to find where they are. I don't know how you do that anyway, because everybody sets different standards for the testing. Maybe that is why there ought to be a national testing center, so we can all measure to the same thing.
But really the tests still only tell you where they are. They do nothing about making sure that the people that receive the information for the tests go back and determine where they need to shore that child's learning ability, where that child needs to get extra tutoring and extra help to come to where he needs to come to, to be able to graduate with a certificate that means something. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Goodling. Did that sound like an effort to bring about a bipartisan effort? He did not write that speech, though. Words like "demagogue," you know this Chairman doesn't demagogue anything, everyone knows where he stands on the issue; "grandstanding" and all those wonderful things.
At any rate, I too had a lot I wanted to do back in the district, even today, but when you are stuck with 7 legislative days in February, 8 legislative days in April, unfortunately, we are going to have to do some of these on days we are not actually in session.
Our first panel, Dr. Koretz, is the senior social scientist, RAND Institute, on education and training. He came to RAND in 1987, currently the senior social scientist with the Institute on Education and Training. Much of his current work focuses on educational assessment, particularly as a tool of education policy. His recent research has included studies of assessment-based education reforms in Vermont, Maryland and Kentucky. These studies explore both the program, the effects on schooling, and the quality of their assessment.
Dr. Koretz has also done extensive work with national assessment of educational progress, NAEP, including evaluations of NAEP's standard setting efforts, the study and interpretation of NAEP results by the print media, and studies of the adequacy with which NAEP portrays the performance of minority students.
Dr. Eva Baker, co-director, UCLA Center for Research on Evaluation Standards and Student Testing, is a professor of educational psychology and social research methods at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. She is co-director of the National Center for Research on Evaluation Standards and Student Testing, which receives funding from the U.S. Department of Education. She has also served on the Secretary's Committee on the Revision of Chapter 1 testing.
One more. Mr. Thomas Davis, National Association of State Boards of Education, was president of the Missouri State Board of Education, from 1989 through 1991, is the immediate past president of the National Association of State Boards of Education, is a member of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and a former president of the Missouri Partnership for Outstanding Schools.
We will begin with Dr. Koretz.
STATEMENT OF DANIEL M. KORETZ, SENIOR SOCIAL SCIENTIST, RAND INSTITUTE ON EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Mr. Koretz. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to thank you and the members of the Committee for the invitation to come here today.
Testing, as you know, is a very technical enterprise and it often seems rather mysterious. My goal today is to strip away a bit of the mystery and discuss a few of the basic principles that underlie testing. I would be happy to turn from those general principles to the specific controversies of voluntary national testing and other controversies that face you this session if you would like.
The first of the general principles I would like to stress is the notion of tests as samples. When the Post Office monitors the promptness of mail delivery, they can't very well go out and monitor the promptness of delivery to every single house in the United States, so instead, they pick a small and representative sample from every metropolitan area in every State, monitor mail delivery to those addresses, and generalize to the State as a whole or the metropolitan area as a whole. That is basically what educational tests are.
Teachers or policymakers or parents are interested in some area of achievement, usually called the "domain," but you can't test everything that is in it, so you give kids a sample of questions that test a sample of knowledge and a sample of skills. When teachers go about doing that, they often have a very small domain in mind can these kids factor quadratic equations, say, or fit linear equations and so they can sample very well, their tests can be reasonably complete.
When policy-makers want information from tests, it is usually to support very broad inferences, such as how well have kids mastered the cumulative mathematics curriculum through grade 8, which the proposed voluntary national test would assess, as does the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
When you have these big domains, you have to sample very sparsely; you can't get a good sample because the domain is so large and your testing time is so limited. That leads to what is probably the single most important generalization about testing, which is the score itself usually doesn't mean much. Nobody much cares about the few addresses sampled in West Virginia or the few questions on a test; what they care about is whether they can infer something about kids' mastery of eighth grade mathematics, whether they can generalize from a tiny sample to something bigger.
That in turn leads to one of the seemingly arcane focuses of the current debate, which is something called "matrix sampling."Let's say you can afford 90 minutes that is not an arbitrarily chosen number, as you know to test kids in mathematics. Well, you can't fit a whole lot of questions into 90 minutes, particularly if you give kids open-ended questions. So your sample of cumulative mathematics learning is likely to be pretty weak.
One response to that problem is to write a very big test, something that might take an individual kid a day or day and a half to take, and break it up into pieces, I take one piece, you take the second piece and you take the third piece and so on, and in the end you assemble all the pieces together and get, say, a score for a school or a State, for a district. That score then reflects a very broad test, reflects a good sample of the domain, and gives you some confidence that the trends you are seeing are really trustworthy. That is why the National Assessment of Educational Progress is matrix sampled. It allows the assessment to include far more questions than you could ask any one kid.
The drawback of matrix sampling is it generally gives you inadequate scores for individual kids, because they only take chunk A and not the whole thing, and it is for that reason that the proposed Voluntary National Tests would not be matrix sampled and would instead represent a smaller sample of the domain.
Another currently prominent part of the debate is the notion that tests should be standards based. Standards-based assessments are currently the vogue. The difference between standards-based and other assessments are often a little overstated though. To understand that, you have to go back to what test scores are. If someone says your school or district or State has a mean of whatever let's say a State has a mean of 250 on the national assessment or your daughter got a 1400 on the SATs is that good or bad? It doesn't really mean anything. They could just as easily have called it 250 or a 36.
To make sense of the numbers, you have to have something to compare it to. One obvious comparison is the performance of other kids. The way you know a 4-minute mile is fast is you know that virtually nobody can run it. Similarly, the way you know 1500 is a high SAT score is that most kids don't get it, and that is all that "norm-referenced" means. It has nothing to do with the nature of the test, whether it is multiple choice or anything else. It simply says you are interpreting scores in terms of comparisons to other people or other nations.
Standards-based assessment typically involves setting judgmental standards about what kids should know and reporting how many kids get there. But, in fact, that kind of reporting and norm-based reporting often go hand in hand. National data assessment uses both. You can go home and tell your constituents that X percent of kids in your State reached proficient; you can also tell them whether your State looked good or bad compared to the other States. Neither of these are entirely good or entirely bad, they are just partial ways of making sense of test scores.
The final point I would like to make is something called the "Lake Wobegon effect." Lake Wobegon, of course, is the mythical town in which all the men are good-looking, women are strong, and all the children are above average, and it has come to mean the tendency for all States and districts to report they are above average on norm reference tests.
What this comes from, and it is an issue you will have to grapple with in dealing with the Voluntary National Tests, is "teaching to the test," analogous to the Post Office saying we will worry about the addresses that were sampled in West Virginia but not the rest of the State.
Teaching to the test can have positive elements as well if a teacher says, I realize now there are these new topics I have to teach; but the negative aspect of teaching to the test is when someone realizes that scores count a great deal and says, I am going to worry about what happens to be sampled on the tests at the expense of other things the test is supposed to represent.
In the time I have I can't go into detail, but I will tell you research has shown that that kind of teaching to the test can be quite severe and can produce increases in test scores that are absolutely meaningless. If not absolutely meaningless, badly inflated. So in designing an assessment program, you have to find ways to combat that and to avoid misleading the public.
Finally, what does this imply for the issues facing you? One of the generalizations that people often make is that tests should be designed for particular uses, and you can see one aspect of that from what I have said. A test that is designed to be strong as a measure of aggregate performance, State performance, may be designed in ways that are absolutely inappropriate for devising for producing scores for individual kids. Similarly, a test that is designed to produce scores for individual kids may be too narrow to serve the monitoring function that national assessment serves.
There isn't time to go into many others, but I would like to give you one other generalization about the uses of tests, which is that it is necessary to distinguish between tests used for monitoring and tests used for accountability. The national assessment is as available as it is, in part because no one tries to artificially raise scores on it. When scores go up in the national assessment, you can believe it. When tests are used for accountability purposes, you often have to have doubts about the meaningfulness of score gains. Thus a test is not necessarily good or bad in itself; the value of scores depends in part on how you use the test.
At that point I think I will stop, Mr. Chairman, and I will be happy later to return to questions, if you would like.
Chairman Goodling. Thank you, Dr. Koretz.
SEE APPENDIX A -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF DANIEL M. KORETZ, SENIOR SOCIAL SCIENTIST, RAND INSTITUTE ON EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Chairman Goodling. Dr. Baker.
STATEMENT OF EVA L. BAKER, CO-DIRECTOR, UCLA CENTER FOR RESEARCH ON EVALUATION, STANDARDS, AND STUDENT TESTING (CRESST)
Ms. Baker. Chairman Goodling and Committee members, I am grateful to have the opportunity to discuss testing issues with you today.
As you well know, Americans have long been leaders in the area of research and practice in testing, and I think as a result, the American public has developed quite an appetite for quantitative data. Today I will try to touch briefly on three important areas: emerging trends in tests, the criteria that we might use in judging the quality of tests, and continuing challenges that face us, and I will try not to repeat what my esteemed colleague has discussed.
As we think about emerging trends, the last point was about multiple purposes that tests might be used for. In addition to the purposes he described, there are purposes that Mr. Martinez was interested in, such as diagnosing student performance to figure out how to engage in instructional improvement. In recent years, there has been a new wrinkle, where many States and districts have formulated the desire to give one test and use it for multiple purposes, such as to combine accountability monitoring and structural improvement. To the extent that State and local systems try to combine testing purposes, they should be expected to collect technical information on the quality of the test for each of the separate purposes that are desired.
A second emerging purpose for a test is to use them to clarify the goals and expectations of the system. This is a big difference. We have always used tests to evaluate what we have achieved; now there is a move to use tests for communication purposes. Advocates of this practice claim showing examples of desired student work or sharing test items after a test is given will help students and all participants to understand expectations. It is sort of like the business analogy for a service team. If the team decides getting one's luggage within 10 minutes after a flight lands is a goal, everyone attempts to work towards that goal. Using tests to clarify the meaning of standards can have a positive consequence if it points to better ways that learning could be demonstrated or encourages teachers to seek different approaches to teaching.
In college, when I took an English course, I was told I was expected to read, analyze, and be ready to compare all the works of Shelley, Keats and Browning. For me, there was no ambiguity about what my focus was to be and I could mobilize my attention. But in addition to this clarity, unless teachers are prepared in the subject matter they are to teach, have books available for students, and students are able to mobilize their attention, it seems to me the content of the test itself will not be of overwhelming importance.
The third emerging area has been the development of performance tests, which we can discuss in the question section if you wish.
The fourth, emerging areas and increasing focus on individual test scores, principally for reporting to parents. That has been a trend in my own State.
Let me turn now very briefly to criteria for a good test. For educational testing to be useful and successful, it seems four critical criteria must be met. The test must be valid, that is, provide accurate and trustworthy interpretations about what they measure, for the purpose that they are directed toward. They must be fair, giving no special advantage to test takers on aspects unrelated to what is being measured. They must be credible to the participants in the educational process and they must be feasible.
I will spend most of my remaining time on the concept of validity. Validity is all about making reasonable interpretations of test results with respect to the purposes for which the test was given. For educational tests designed to measure the attainment of students against a standard, let me offer six areas of technical quality that I think are important. One is that the interpretations are sound for the purposes of the test. Second, that the test measures complex knowledge and intellectual skills related to the stated content and performance standards. Third, the test promotes generalization and transfer to new instances, so just learning the answers to the test won't be good enough. Fourth, the test gives dependable results; that is, under the same conditions, with the same kinds of students, you would get about the same results over time. And the most important to me, and probably where I disagree a little with my colleague, is the test should be sensitive and general to instruction; that is, good teaching should show up on test results. Sixth, unintended outcomes of the test should be explored and evaluated.
Briefly, the second major area for test quality is fairness, and that means all test takers would have access to the information about what the test is for, how it would be used and a good performance does not depend on special knowledge not critical to the test performance. It also includes the idea that the language of testing is appropriate to the test content.
A third area, and I will wrap up, is credibility. We have seen in certain States reasonable testing practices were not accepted by the public because the public did not quite trust their results. It is for this reason, I believe, many districts and States are now using both standardized norm reference tests and performance tests in combination and in an attempt to increase credibility of testing programs to a broader constituency. Perhaps during the question session, I can discuss some challenges that are available to the whole community. Thank you.
Chairman Goodling. Thank you, Dr. Baker.
SEE APPENDIX B -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF EVA L. BAKER, CO-DIRECTOR, UCLA CENTER FOR RESEARCH ON EVALUATION, STANDARDS, AND STUDENT TESTING (CRESST)
Chairman Goodling. Mr. Davis.
STATEMENT OF THOMAS DAVIS, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE BOARDS OF EDUCATION
Mr. Davis. Good morning. On behalf of the National Association of State Boards of Education, I want to thank you for the opportunity to discuss the important issue of student assessment.
As a member of the Missouri State Board of Education since 1987, I witnessed the evolution of the assessment debate from the minimum competency multiple choice test popular 10 to 15 years ago, to the current issue of national testing. Last year I commissioned a study group of State board members to examine the current status of state assessments throughout the country. The study report entitled "The Full Measure" is also relevant for your assessment of this issue. I commend it to you for your review and a copy has been attached with my written testimony.
Any discussion on State policies must begin with the State boards of education. As you know, State boards of education exist in every State of the Union except Wisconsin. They are composed of ordinary citizens like myself, a businessman from Missouri, and they are dedicated to the American tradition and deeply valued ideals of lay governments of education and the separation of education policy-making from partisan politics. They serve as an unbiased decision-maker focused on the long-term best interests of the public and all the students in each state.
State boards are the only State policy-making authority focused exclusively on education. They tend to adopt standards, they specify the requirements for tests or assessments, and they use the results. State boards of education around the country have struggled to find the most effective strategies for improving student achievement and providing oversight for the education system. The issues surrounding instruction and accountability are complex.
Nearly every State is engaged in what is known as standards-based reform, the development of statewide academic standards and core subjects along with new State tests that will measure student progress toward these goals. This represents a fundamental shift for education and much remains to be done. I believe steady progress is being made by the standards-based reform movement, but it should be viewed as a long-term investment in our country's future. While early indicators are encouraging, the true success of our efforts will not fully be known for at least a generation.
As to assessments, there are several key factors that relate to how assessments can make the standards movement more successful. First, the assessments will help assure standards are taken seriously. Second, standards and assessments guide teaching and learning. Assessments help individual students meet the standards, and assessments help policymakers ensure that all students have access to sound education.
The diversity of State assessment systems reflects the unique character of each State education system; however, there are some factors which tie all good assessment systems together. And they are alignment with State standards; they are being designed to address specific goals and purposes; they balance validity, reliability and efficiency; they inform remediation and have consequences attached to some of the results; they provide a framework for schools and district initiatives; and they have clearly articulated relationships with national and international measures of student performance.
One thing States have learned is that no one test can be used for all the purposes from improving instruction to evaluating programs to providing accountability. The solution is the use of multiple measures, finding the right balance of multiple choice, short answer, performance and portfolio-type items. There is no single test for every student and every goal.
The fact that State boards have been working hard to define and promote their goals and standards, along with aligning assessments with these standards, means the results will be more meaningful to parents, to school officials and to the public.
Assessments should never be used to sort students into the "haves" and "have-nots" of learning. We emphatically believe the underlying premise of assessments is to improve student learning, improve instruction, and help all students meet each State's high academic standards.
In my State of Missouri, the State board adopted 73 rigorous academic standards in January of 1996. The performance-based assessment system to measure the "Show-Me" standards is now being implemented and will cover the standard six subject areas. The new test will evaluate what students know and how well they where able to apply the knowledge to real-world situations.
Many unresolved concerns remain. Foremost among these is the question of how poor, disabled and students of color will fare under the new more rigorous standards and assessments. State board members realize a level playing field does not exist for many of these students. We are committed to providing the necessary resources to obtain the elements of good instruction for everyone. This is an area where we ask you to join in a Federal-State partnership to supplement the funding necessary to deliver all these critical resources. We must not leave any child behind.
A second major area is the question of assessments applying to all students. We applaud what you did in the reauthorization of IDEA to specify that students with disabilities must be included in the statewide assessment systems, but we also are worried about the cost of developing special assessments to accomplish these tasks, and we ask for your assistance in that area.
Finally, I would like to mention the issue of national tests. We understand and appreciate the Chairman's reservations about this initiative. We share many of the same concerns about this and any Federal program that has the potential to usurp the authority of State boards. NASBE believes it is the responsibility of each State board to decide whether or not to participate in any national program. Nevertheless, NASBE is supportive of the Federal Government role in developing tests as a useful tool in whatever State efforts might be undertaken.
The unfortunate reality is the cost of assessments are already prohibitively high for too many States. It is our belief any Federal research on assessments would be an invaluable service to States and would ultimately result in higher quality tests and enhanced State assessment systems.
I will be glad to address any questions you might have.
Chairman Goodling. Thank you.
SEE APPENDIX C -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF THOMAS DAVIS, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE BOARDS OF EDUCATION
Chairman Goodling. All of you are involved in testing in some way, and I would ask the first question. I will probably start with Dr. Baker, and those of you who may want to respond.
I had three major concerns, of course, right from day one. One was the putting the cart before the horse is my biggest concern. The second is the Department of Education leading this whole business of developing a national test. And then primarily the timetable, and that is why I want to ask you. Their timetable, of course, would have had a national test in a year and a half. Basically they were going to use a little bit of 1997, all of 1998, and they had hoped to implement in March of 1999. So as I look at it, it is about a year and a half. Every testing expert I have ever talked to says it takes 3 to 5 years to have a valid test.
Do you want to start, Dr. Baker?
Ms. Baker. Is the question, was their timetable ambitious? The answer is yes, I think it was. It is possible, I believe, to create a measure that is reasonable, as long as the expectation is that one would continue to improve it. The first time it was administered, it wasn't regarded as fixed in stone.
I will point out that there are other States and some school districts that have equally ambitious time schedules, although I am not advocating that position. So I would say that it is possible, but I think, in general, you are accurate in reflecting what the testing community believes is a concern, because we would want this test to be held to very high-quality standards.
Chairman Goodling. Thank you.
Does anyone else wish to comment?
Mr. Koretz. The only thing I would add is there is an extra layer of complexity in the proposed voluntary national tests that is not faced to as great a degree by, say, a publisher of an off-the-shelf test, which is the consensus-building process. When a publisher develops the test, they clearly have to have their eyes on the curricular use around the country in the hopes of marketing that test broadly, but people can say, I don't like that one, and will go to a different one and will ask for modifications or whatever.
This test is unlike that. There is going to be one, if it comes into being, and it will be in many ways more prominent than any other, and the process of getting agreement on what should be measured and in what way and in what balance, if it is going to be done right, is going to take a considerable amount of time.
Mr. Davis. I would comment, from the Missouri example, we are bringing the six subject areas on one at a time, and each one is taking somewhere between a year and a half and 2 years.
I think the thing missing in this is whether or not you can develop the test avoids the question, somewhat, of the public engagement side of that. If you really are going to have a test be meaningful and useful to all the participants, there has to be a great deal of understanding generated, and a year and a half would not be sufficient time to do that.
Chairman Goodling. My second and last question would be why would you wait until fourth grade to test to see whether somebody can read? From my own experience, I wasted a lot of Chapter 1, Title I money, because, frankly, we didn't know what to do with it, we never knew when we were going to get it, but wasted it because we had this great idea somehow or another we are going to have middle school and senior high school students remediated in relationship to reading. Of course, we didn't know how to do that either, but we thought it would be great to bring in an outstanding first grade reading teacher, who was a great reading teacher, to deal with middle school and high school students.
So why do you wait until fourth grade and then what do you do when you find out, as we now know, that 40 percent aren't reading very well by the time they get to fourth grade?
Anybody wish to comment on that?
Mr. Davis. Once again, I think I can say if the examination is used for purposes of being implying here sanctions on districts or on individual schools that are particularly failing, then a termination measurement like that is one way to do it. Clearly, we believe in Missouri if a student can't read by the end of the third grade, his entire educational experience is in serious jeopardy.
The third or fourth grade test cannot be the only test you use. If it is the test that you use to determine whether or not there ought to be some action taken with the district or the school that scored low, whether you send in help, whether you take it out of existence or whatever the whole range of sanctions might be or assistance might be, it could be used for that, but it won't help the individual kids that are being tested at that point.
Chairman Goodling. Dr. Baker.
Ms. Baker. My understanding is that because there was an interest in aligning the test specifications to the NAEP specifications, to sort of strengthen them, that was one of the reasons that the fourth grade was chosen. I may be incorrect in that point.
I would say, just based on our experience in trying to develop an assessment system for the Los Angeles Unified School District, that it is sort of an interesting balance. You want to test early enough so that you could find ways of improving what is going on. At the same time, you want to get a stable enough measure, and sometimes when you test very young children, their scores will bounce around for all kinds of reasons, unrelated to what they happen to know.
My own preference, which is irrelevant, perhaps, but I would prefer, of the tests of this sort, any of these tests, be offered in the fall, rather than in the spring, because I think it puts pressure on whatever testing authority there is to get the results back in time so that teachers can do something about them. Often, the testing programs are out of sync with the users of the test, so what you do when you are a teacher is look at the test and say, oh, well, that was interesting for last year's students, and then you go on. So I think there is an issue of if the test is principally for improvement, you may want to time it in such a way that certain people can make use of it.
Mr. Koretz. I will add one thing, which is this is in some sense a reflection of different designs for different purposes. National assessment was designed to monitor trends in the Nation as a whole, and for that purpose testing below grade 4 is probably not a good idea because, as Dr. Baker said, scores of kids who are in first and second grade aren't very reliable. But now we are talking about a test that might have additional functions, and that raises questions of whether fourth grade is appropriate.
I think Mr. Davis hit the nail on the head when he said it depends on the steps you take in response. A fourth grade test might be very appropriate for monitoring performance of districts and having districts to our schools change what they do, but it is too late in many respects for individual kids.
Chairman Goodling. Thank you.
I had a conference in South Carolina last weekend. I indicated I can solve the problems with all the preschoolers because I would never allow them to get into first grade if it were obvious that they were going to have a failing experience, because I am sure that begins the dropout. I didn't know how to really, after 22 years in education, deal with them in junior high, middle school and senior high if they have already pretty well dropped out because of their failing experience.
Mr. Martinez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. You know, on first blush, I would almost say I was adamantly opposed to the testing, simply because I thought about $90 million in developing tests that would only be used if the States opted to use it, because it is voluntary. And with so many infrastructure needs in schools around the country, and especially in California, and so many other things that are needed, the training of teachers, the need to buy equipment like computers to do what the President referred to several times, getting all the classrooms on line and all of those things, $90 million to me sounded like not a real purposeful expenditure of monies, given all the other needs, and to some degree I still hold that.
But, you know, the thing about taking your time to make a decision is you start thinking, if those were solid, substantial arguments, you might come to a conclusion with more discussion, and some of the discussion we had here today at the hearing, with the witnesses and the Chairman asking the question, leads me to start thinking about some things.
Let me ask you a question. If the State board of education decided that they would opt to use those tests and told the teachers in those school districts that they might be the ones that were selected to give that test, do you think the teachers would start teaching to the test?
Mr. Davis. Since it is couched in the State board of education, I will try to respond to that.
Again, I think the correct way to engage the teachers in a question about testing is to engage them early, so the first thing a State board that is going at it would do is to engage the teachers in the process of setting the requirements for a test. Now if you are talking specifically about a Federal test, there can be uses of that test, which an engagement between the State board of education and the teachers might find a good potential use of it that might substitute for an existing State assessment or might complement an existing State assessment.
The fundamental question about whether or not they will teach to the test, I think, has to do with how the results are used, and that comes down then to a policy-making question, and one that requires engagement of the Governor, the legislature, the teachers, and a variety of other publics that deal with the questions of how test scores are used.
Mr. Martinez. Yes, I don't know how the organization that NASBE contracted with or rewrote the contract with intends to develop that, but I would have imagined they would have went back to the districts and got input from the different school districts and States around the country, and I would hope so, and I think you are right.
But, you know, the Chairman's concern, beyond just the question of the expenditure of the money, was if we were moving too rapidly. Well, I would say that and the Department of Education being the ones in control of the test. I think both of his concerns were resolved when he made the compromise with the President, because I think he got a pretty good deal, and he took it out of the hands of the Department of Education. Now NASBE are the ones who will have sole jurisdiction over the test. The other is in renegotiating the contract NASBE posted back 2-1/2 years, which is more than the year it will take where he is concerned about developing the test. So I think we are ahead in that extent, that it is going to take longer to develop the test, it is more like 2-1/2 years rather than a year, and the other is the Department of Education is not involved in it any longer.
But beyond that point, the question still remains to me, when I try to weigh should we expend that kind of money for that when there are so many other greater needs, is the result of the test. You spoke a little bit about testing at the fourth grade. The initial intent, I think, of the President, or one of the intents of the President, was to let parents know where their kids were at that grade so they could possibly do something about it. Let me tell you, I have two sons. My second son was friends with two young people that he played in a band with, and the leader of that band was a young man by the name of Pete Agular. Pete could read and write music and compose arrangements for the band, and they were very well sought after, but do you know that he couldn't read, and I found that out in his 12th year that he was graduating. Now that is a little bit late to try to test to find out if a person can't read, but that is what is happening.
Right now the big political word that people are throwing around to show they are for education is end social promotion. Social promotion has now become the byword for people to show for politicians to show their support. But social promotion has been going on for a long time, and I know that in classrooms around the country, even when I went to school, at the end of the year, each teacher gave a test to the student to find out if he learned the subject matter which he was teaching, he or she, to be able to promote him to the next grade, and if he got a D or an F and sometimes they gave them a D just not to give them an F so they would move them along. So that has been happening for a long time. Are these tests in any way going to curb any of that activity?
Mr. Koretz. Going back to the beginning of your point, whether or not teachers teach these tests, assuming they come into existence, is not going to be a function of how they are designed, it is going to be a function of how they are used, and if teachers feel pressured to raise scores on the test, they certainly will teach to it in both a good way and a bad way.
For example, I will make it concrete. Since eighth grade mathematics is on the table, if the voluntary national test resembles the National Assessment of Educational Progress closely enough in content, some teachers of lower track kids, kids now on the lower track, will say, we better teach some basic algebra because it is tested. That in some sense could be very desirable.
On the other hand, if you have teachers saying, we are worried about getting our scores up, and we know this material is on the test, but this other stuff in our curriculum is not, the incentive for them to focus on the test as sort of a surrogate curriculum will be very strong. What we have seen in a number of other settings with external tests with statewide assessments, for example, is some of them will focus very, very narrowly. And my own personal concern is it will be the teachers of low-achieving kids who will have the greatest incentive to focus narrowly because they have the biggest job ahead of them to get the scores of their kids up.
Mr. Martinez. That is one of the things about NASBE, in conjunction with the organization that is going to be developing the test is setting those national tests, national standards not standards, but developing the test so it will be a national test, testing everybody on the same level playing field.
You in your testimony talked about, in the 1980s, a number of factors combined to prompt educators to reexamine their academic standards. These elements include the perception of the tests, which would mean dumb down; grades were being inflated, and student performance in general was either stagnant or declining, which was the real story, but those recorded scores were not the real reflection. And since I have been thinking about this national testing, I thought, if each State sets its own standards, and let's say a particular Governor wants to look good, isn't he going to cause the board of education to drop those scores so he can say in his state of the State message, look what I have done for education, and wouldn't a national standard be better?
Mr. Davis. I don't want to speak to the motives of any given Governor, but I would say that there is a lot of reason for States to debate and set their own standards, but I happen to believe that if there can be particular test elements that can be developed by the Nation at a national level, that are consistent across boards, that can then be embedded in State assessments, I think that might be the best of both worlds.
To your point of when should we know about whether or not a student can read, clearly fourth grade is it is better to know it at fourth grade than eighth, but it is our belief that is still late to do the kind of things that are necessary to make sure about a student's total career.
So whether you have this sort of test at the fourth grade that is going to be used for some set of purposes, by comparison, State to State or evaluations of districts, there needs to be lots of other assessments earlier, and I think the appropriate policy-making vehicle is, one, to try to establish the goals, rather than, you know, what is it you want to see accomplished; what are the things of interest to us as a Nation and how can we best cause those to happen, recognizing that education is primarily a State responsibility. Just as you look at both the Federal role and State roles, it does primarily rest with the State.
Mr. Martinez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Goodling. Mr. Scott.
Mr. Scott. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Sometimes when we talk about these tests, sometimes we oppose the test because the test is a messenger, and we don't like the message. And I want to get to the use of the tests. As tests are given all over the country, has anyone ever seen a constructive use for the tests? After you get the results back, if a school is doing poorly, what happens?
Mr. Davis. There are several States doing things that are both punitive and supportive. I can speak most clearly about Missouri because we have, in the State accreditation of districts, the use of student results are key to whether or not a district is accredited. If it fails in that regard, or an individual school fails in that regard, there is a lot of assistance provided. If it persists in failure of that, the district can lapse, and there can be a breaking up of the district, there can be a termination of contracts and tenure and that sort of thing.
North Carolina has a system that does a lot of rewarding, as well as some punitive aspects to it, pays teachers bonuses where kids are doing well and has punitive aspects when schools are failing. So, yes, in that respect, tests are being used in many States around the country.
Mr. Scott. Mr. Koretz.
Mr. Koretz. I would say in two different ways. Sometimes, particularly at the district level, districts will call teachers in to look at specific patterns of performance on tests. You need much more than an aggregate score on this. For instance, one district I studied that I have to leave anonymous presented teachers with detailed profiles of what aspects of mathematics, for example, their kids did well in and poorly in and helped them change their instruction to focus on areas where they are weak.
Mr. Scott. Is this on an individual teacher basis?
Mr. Koretz. Well, the district did it as a whole, but, yes, individual teachers were brought in to address this. You can't do that with simply a total score in mathematics, you need a whole lot more detail.
But there also are some policy responses that make good use of tests. For example, there are a number of States, New York is one, that are beginning to put real pressure on the schools serving low-achieving, low-income kids to start improving standards. One of the pieces of information they have used to justify that policy is the abysmal test scores of some impoverished schools. Without those test scores, it would be harder to say the schools are truly inadequate as they are currently being run.
Mr. Scott. And what is being done? Do they get lower class sizes, more resources, better teachers? What do they get?
Mr. Koretz. It varies a lot from State to State. In my own personal opinion, in a lot of cases there is too little attention to that. There isn't enough support once the bad news is in. For instance, one of Kentucky's responses was to provide schools with money that could be used for remedial services, outside of normal school hours, after school, before school, during summers and so on. But often, I think there is not enough support after the bad news is in.
Mr. Scott. Dr. Baker, I kind of sense you want to answer this one, but as you answer that one, can you give me an idea of what you look for to determine whether a test is valid and whether or not you can get cultural bias out of the test?
Ms. Baker. Well, let me answer that first. The real test, or the way one would want to look at a test in terms of its fairness is, first of all, whether a student needs skills or experiences other than those that are supposed to be measured by the test to answer and do well on the test.
An old example is in a reading comprehension test, there is a story about a child going to a birthday party, and one of the questions was about what kind of present the child bought for the party. It was clear that many children didn't have that experience of knowing that when you had a birthday party, you brought a present, so that that test item might be biased inappropriately for those kids who didn't have that information. Even though the test item was about reading comprehension, it really wasn't about knowing about birthday party knowledge.
So what one does, typically, there are both procedures by which the test items are examined by people to search for these kinds of things, and then there are empirical ways when tests are administered to different groups to see the patterns of performance among the groups are reasonably comparable. So that, I think, in a very simplified way, is the way people go about judging cultural bias.
Mr. Scott. Can you have a culturally unbiased test?
Ms. Baker. To the extent that most tests have language in them, and language and culture sometimes are quite linked, it may be impossible to have a perfect test of any sort. I mean, we know it is impossible to have a perfect test on any dimension, perfectly reliable, perfectly valid, perfectly free of bias, but one can do a good job of trying to understand how much of that is, to estimate it and to control bias.
Mr. Scott. If I can get one more question in. Is the multiple test, multiple choice test, an appropriate way to measure achievement?
Ms. Baker. It depends on achievement of what. It is not a good way to measure how to make a decision for an appendectomy, but it probably might be a good way for some in some settings to officially measure what people know and understand or see what relationships are.
I think we have spent way too much time on focusing on some of the superficial characteristics of tests and not paying attention to whether you can have a really idiotic multiple choice test, or you can have a multiple choice test that is very, very difficult and intellectually taxing. It really is about what the intellectual demands are in the academic area that you are trying to test, not so much about the superficial characteristics of the test.
Right now there is much more interest in learning psychologists about tests that actually ask students to do something, produce something, construct something, and this is what we alluded to as performance tests. That, I think, in the way we are thinking about testing systems now, rather than single tests, is one additional way to make sure that you are giving students an adequate and fair way to represent what they know.
Mr. Koretz. If I might add to that, there is fairly widespread agreement in the community, not uniform agreement, but widespread, that it is risky to rely solely on multiple choice questions. That is not to say, however, that they have no value. There are certain things they do very well. For one thing, if you have a limited amount of testing time, you can cover a whole lot more ground with multiple choice questions than with open response questions. You can find out better whether kids have learned a wide body of content, and you also may in some cases avoid bias.
For example, it may be the case, the research on this is still very meager, that open response questions that ask kids to write responses may in fact more severely disadvantage kids who have limited proficiency in English, because their writing ability is poor in English, and multiple choice questions don't require that.
A fair number of measurement experts now would argue you ought to have a mix of assessment types and focus really on the breadth and quality of the assessment rather than just format.
The last point I would make is some people argue multiple choice questions are necessarily trivial. That is not true, and if you want a graphic illustration, look at the Japanese college entrance exams in, say, mathematics. It is really quite an intimidating experience to look at those tests, which are multiple choice and are extraordinarily difficult by American standards.
So I guess my conclusion after looking at a variety of these tests is that a mixed format is probably what, in most cases, depending again on the use, in most cases, what you ought to look for, and multiple choice probably has a substantial role to play still.
Chairman Goodling. Mr. Hinojosa.
Mr. Hinojosa. Thank you, Chairman Goodling.
I apologize for having missed a part of your presentation. I have been looking at some other materials that are being discussed. I want to address the work by the National Assessment Governing Board.
Recently NAGB amended a contract first approved by the Department of Education for the development of the tests, and amongst the modifications that were made and I will be very specific about the concern that I have is with regard to testing the fourth grade reading students. I notice that they added provisions regarding four determinations that the Governing Board is to make under the act with respect to test bias, which you have answered to my friend and colleague here, Congressman Scott testing in the form most likely to yield accurate information, meeting the needs of disadvantaged LEP students and disabled students.
Those last two, I have a large number of LEP students in the area that I represent. A significant concern of mine in testing has been the assessment of limited English proficient children and their ability to meet both State-prescribed standards and, if eventually authorized, those developed for the President's voluntary national test.
In my mind, it is important to assess children in the language which they are best able to understand testing. If a child is limited English proficient and their primary language is Spanish, wouldn't a reading test in Spanish truly assess their reading comprehension?
Ms. Baker. Let my try to respond to that. As I understood the designator on that test, it was a test of reading and English. But if it was the intention of the policy to be more general and to test reading comprehension, then clearly one would want to assess in the language that the student was most comfortable, perhaps primary language.
In addition, at our center we have a number of linguists who work with us, and I have come to recognize the importance of any test done in any State or district with LEP or English-language-learning children to try to have some measure, if not for every child, at least on a sampling basis the way that Dan Koretz has described, some measure of the primary language proficiency. Because apparently the research suggests that that is one of the greatest predictors of kids' ability ultimately to read in English. And so, I think that one of the areas for research that we need to spend a good deal of time on is not only how we adapt tests for LEP or other children who have language needs, language development needs, but also how we understand better the relationship of primary and newly acquired languages as they predict performance both in reading and in other areas like science and math and history.
Mr. Hinojosa. So if a child had learned the art of learning in Spanish and could read and you were testing that child in English, in a tool written in English, would you be able to assess that child and say, this child can read, but he can only read in Spanish? Because, as I understand it, it is the ability to read, not necessarily the ability to speak English.
Ms. Baker. Yeah, again it depends upon how the goals and specifications for the test are designed. If it is a test of reading that is the ability to sort of decode information and understand it and make sense of it, in whatever language, then it would not only be Spanish but it might be in dialects of Vietnamese and so on, whatever the kid's language is.
If we are talking about English reading, then one would want to probably only ask kids who would feel comfortable taking that test to take that test. So I would say that you couldn't use that
Mr. Hinojosa. Excuse me for interrupting you. But that brings the concern that Congressman Scott alluded to: If you only test those who can read and take the test in English, then you don't test the left students and that automatically triggers that bias, it triggers tracking that child, and it creates all sorts of problems for those disadvantaged students.
So we have got to find a way to test all children and to help all children reach their full potential. So that's why all of this has been so important to us in this Committee. And missing those 4 million children who happen to be limited English proficient is just not acceptable; we can't leave them out.
Mr. Davis. From a policy-making point of view, I might add that that is an area where, if you think about every State in the Union developing tests around its standards, which are developed in every language, it is conceivable to have students, as well as every other characteristic of a student which might inhibit their ability to demonstrate how well they have mastered the material or are able to demonstrate their knowledge, that then becomes a task where the partnership between States and the Federal Government could be very effective; and that is the way you take tests and modify them to be able to apply to students with specific characteristics.
Mr. Hinojosa. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Goodling. I want to thank all of you very much for coming today and testifying.
While we're changing panels, I'd like to relate, in response to Mr. Martinez, what they teach to the test. My first experience as a guidance counselor was, I was to group seventh graders coming from about eight sixth grades, and I noticed that Mrs. Yost's students were all outstanding. And so I said to the superintendent, "Have you already grouped them in sixth grade?" And he said, "No." I said, "Well, all of Mrs. Yost's students are tops in all the standardized tests." And he said, "Well, you have to understand, Mrs. Yost teaches to the test."
So it didn't help me very much when it came to trying to group the students. I didn't believe in grouping in the first place, but I wasn't the superintendent at that time.
If the next panel would come forward, I will introduce them as they are coming. The Honorable Terry Branstad, Governor of the State of Iowa the Governor of Iowa, having served in that position since 1982. In fact, I understand he is the longest-serving governor in the country. He has also served as chair of the Midwestern Governors Association, Council of State Governments, the National Governors Association, and the Republican Governors Association.
And I appreciate your taking time to be with us today.
The Honorable Frank Brogan, Commissioner of Education, Florida Department of Education. Frank Brogan is the current Commissioner of Education of Florida and is Chairman this year of the Education Leaders Council, a national organization of State education chiefs. Mr. Brogan has also served as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, local superintendent, and in 1991 was recognized by the Florida Department of Education as Superintendent of the Year.
I never got that honor. Maybe I didn't stay long enough.
The Honorable Michael Ward, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, North Carolina Department of Instruction. Dr. Ward was elected to the position of North Carolina State Superintendent of Public Instruction in November of 1996. Prior to serving as Superintendent, he served as Executive Director of the North Carolina Standards Board for Public School Administration, which is an independent professional standards board charged by the General Assembly with the task of developing standards for public school administrators. He has served as Superintendent of Schools in Granville County, North Carolina; held a post as high school principal, assistant principal, teacher, and coach. He was honored in 1994 as North Carolina's Superintendent of the Year and in 1998 as Granville County's Principal of the Year.
Welcome, gentlemen. And we will begin with the Governor.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE TERRY BRANSTAD, GOVERNOR, STATE OF IOWA
Governor Branstad. Thank you, Mr. Goodling, distinguished members of the Committee. I am pleased to be here with you today, and I appreciate the invitation to speak to you on the subject of testing the students of our Nation.
I am currently Chair of the Education Commission of the States. And as you said, I served previously as Chairman of the National Governors Association. During that time, we had the first national education summit in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 1989. And I also served on the Working Group of Governors that work with the business CEOs who put together the second education summit, which was held at Palisades, New York. While these tasks have provided me with a great appreciation for the state of education throughout the country, no experience has been more valuable than my service as a Governor of Iowa for the last 15 years.
Iowa is one of the leaders in the Nation in every major indicator of student success. We have a proud tradition of quality schools, and a lot of the credit for that goes back to the early leaders of our State who set aside land in every township so that no child would have more than a 2-mile walk to a one-room country school. Although those one-room country schools are gone, the commitment at the grass-roots level to quality education has always been very strong in my State. In fact, our students rank well in comparison to the other industrialized countries of the world.
I shudder to think where Iowa would be today if Thomas Jefferson and our other Founding Fathers had elected to centralize authority over education in Washington, D.C. My greater concern is what type of education Iowa's children will receive in the decades ahead if we make the mistake of now centralizing education in Washington for the future.
In my experiences, I have had the opportunity to witness great innovations in our schools. And I have personally visited 40 schools a year every year that I have been Governor. It is one of the most enjoyable things I do.
Change does not originate from the corridors of the Federal Department of Education or even from the Congress here, but rather, it happens in the 50 States, primarily at the local level, with innovative ideas coming from teachers and parents and local school districts. The Federal Government can assist, but in its regulatory directing mode, it is more often an obstacle to innovation and education.
Now the President believes that we should take what I believe to be a dangerous leap towards centralizing control of education in Washington, D.C. President Clinton said that his proposal to create a national test for all fourth graders in reading and eighth graders in math is completely voluntary. However, he has also stated that it is the administration's goals to recruit 20 States by 1999 and all 50 States by the year 2002. All too often we have seen how voluntary programs by the Federal Government quickly become a virtual mandate on the States. The President's new national test is not the solution to the problems of American education.
I am pleased that the Congress did intervene last year and asked many questions on this issue. The national testing initiative is neither a cost-effective way to help States ascertain student needs nor a solution to determining how best to educate our children. A national test is the simplistic approach to education and reform.
The problem is not so much that testing is a bad idea, because I believe that, if implemented properly, testing gives States and local schools information about how much students are indeed learning. However, the initiative for national testing virtually ignores educational research on how to improve student learning. The solution, I believe, is to allow the States more flexibility.
In Iowa, we have invested in fiber optics, computer technology and business learning, and education expenditures are about 60 percent of our budget. In virtually all States, we see work going on in establishing State or local standards to increase accountability of the schools, the students, the parents, and the taxpayers. I firmly believe that setting strong standards at the local level is the right way to go, especially for States that have a strong local tradition in education.
A national test would not measure locally adopted standards. Any test that does not measure what's taught will not be effective in improving student achievement. A national testing proposal would potentially create a set of de facto national standards which I know the governors do not support, and I believe this is the wrong way to go. However, there are a lot of questions, I guess.
I believe it is encouraging that the administration is now looking more to the existing tests that we have, such as the Third International Math and Science Study and the National Assessment of Educational Progress. I think it is important that we build off of those that we already have and perfect those rather than try to start and build and create a whole new set of national tests. The use of scientifically determined random samples is critical in order to have cost-effective mechanisms and to prevent unnecessary burdens for the participating States.
We have learned from the Third International Math and Science Study something that I think is very informative, and that is teaching methods must change and improve if we are to successfully affect student learning.
I have not been able to go through all my testimony, but let me just wrap it up by saying that I think the focus needs to be on things like transforming the teaching profession, better preparing people for teaching and on giving the States more flexibility to build on what has already being done and in setting State and local standards and more effective assessment tools across the country.
Mr. Goodling. Thank you.
SEE APPENDIX D -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE TERRY BRANSTAD, GOVERNOR, STATE OF IOWA
Chairman Goodling. Mr. Brogan.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE FRANK BROGAN, COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION, FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Mr. Brogan. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee. It is a pleasure and an honor to be here before you today as Florida Commissioner of Education and Chairman of the Education Leaders Council. The ELC is a national organization whose members include the State education chiefs of Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, as well as State education boards, individual State and local education board members, and other officials from 29 States.
My task before you today is to talk about Florida's efforts in the area of State standards, assessments, and accountability and to share our thoughts on proposed national testing.
Since taking office in 1994, after running on a platform of boosting academic excellence, I have worked to raise the level of expectations we have for our children in the State of Florida. We are proud that Florida has developed and implemented challenging and rigorous statewide academic standards. In developing the Sunshine State Standards, as they are called, we undertook a consultative process which spanned 2 years and involved all representatives from all walks of lives, including parents, teachers, academics, business people, and others. As a result of these efforts, we set the bar higher, challenging students to reach for and achieve the skills and knowledge necessary for future success. Most importantly, we did so with broad local support and buy-in.
We then proceeded to develop assessments aligned with the standards that we created. The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT, has just recently been administered for the first time. We know what to expect. We know that the initial results may be sobering. There will be pressure to lower the bar and redefine the "average." As long as I am the Commissioner of Education in the State of Florida, I am not going to flinch, nor do I believe should our State. My counterparts in the other ELC States have also been through this important process: consultation and buy-in at the grassroots level, setting demanding standards, and subsequently developing rigorous assessments aligned to those standards.
Florida is also identifying low-performing schools for assistance and intervention, establishing more public charter schools and public school choice opportunities in all 67 school districts, implementing tenure reform, and increasing academic requirements for high school graduation, among other reforms designed to boost student achievement.
Because we have made this investment in raising expectations for our children in our State, we are skeptical of the process now taking place in Washington, D.C. regarding national testing.
Soon after the President's State of the Union speech last year in which he proposed national tests for fourth grade reading and eighth grade math, ELC called on Education Secretary Riley to confirm that the content and performance standards of the proposed test will be the same as those of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, NAEP.
Unfortunately, this was not to be. To our dismay, those charged with formulating test specifications developed a product that was simply unacceptable. Rather than starting from the existing NAEP frameworks and shrinking them to fit an individualized format, content Committees essentially started from scratch and incorporated much fuzziness into the math specifications and many "whole language" assumptions into the reading specifications. As a practical matter, no organization of State chiefs, whether ELC or CCSSO, should be given the responsibility for playing such a pivotal role in assessing educational achievement in the States. It is a little like the company treasurer auditing the company's own books.
Thankfully, in response to concerns expressed by organizations such as ours, the National Assessment Governing Board, NAGB, was given exclusive and final authority over the development of any national tests.
We are greatly concerned that any test based on standards less rigorous than those employed by NAEP would undercut hard-won efforts at home to develop and implement rigorous standards of academic achievement at our State level. Doing so would actually lower the bar for millions of students in the name of higher standards by making it more difficult for State and local officials to boost achievement in our own jurisdictions.
While the National Assessment of Educational Progress has been a reasonable barometer for the purposes of a national sample assessment, a national test for individual children is a different matter. While it is certainly true that NAEP has content and frameworks in place, they have certainly not been debated and agreed upon. It needs to be said that as NAEP's own frameworks have evolved in recent years, the math test has grown rather fuzzy and the reading assessment has more than its share of "whole language" elements, as stated earlier.
A national test calls for a national debate. A project of this magnitude should never have been undertaken with such haste and without consultation from Congress.
Again, we thank you for calling on the Education Leaders Council for our views on these issues and we look forward to working with you on this issue. And I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for having the opportunity to come before your Committee once again. Thank you, sir.
Chairman Goodling. Thank you.
SEE APPENDIX E -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE FRANK BROGAN, COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION, FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
STATEMENT OF HON. MICHAEL WARD, STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Mr. Ward. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee. I am appreciative of the opportunity to testify today.
There are three points I would like to cover: first, our commitment to standards and assessment in North Carolina; second, the potential value of national testing; and third, our belief in State and local control of testing.
North Carolina was one of the first States to support national testing. Our support did not, however, come without considerable forethought. In North Carolina we spent a lot of time wrestling with the issue of standards and assessments. We involved thousands of teachers in the process by soliciting their input on developing the North Carolina Standard Course of Study, which addresses mathematics, language arts, science, social studies, healthful living, arts education, second language studies, information skills, and computer skills.
A few years ago we developed tests which are aligned with the Standard Course of Study. We feel this is a superior system because we outline what is expected to be taught and then use testing that specifically measures such instruction to ensure that students are being well served.
We have devoted so much time and attention to our standards and assessment effort, in fact, that in the first two national report cards released by Education Week and the Pew Charitable Trusts, North Carolina received a grade of "A" on standards and assessment.
Our standards and accountability effort has earned a great deal of support from citizens and the General Assembly. The system holds teachers and schools accountable to parents and their communities.
Those of us involved in education at our State level would, likewise, welcome the comparison of student performance to data on a national level.
For states like North Carolina that are using State-developed tests, there is a special need for national testing. It not only will give us that much-needed national perspective on how students are doing but also validation, if you will, of how our testing programs are stacking up nationally. We, therefore, welcome national testing as proposed; that is grade 4 reading and grade 8 mathematics.
North Carolina participates in the National Assessment of Education Progress and has been participating fully since 1990, and North Carolina's NAEP performance has shown marked improvement. We urge Congress to continue the NAEP program with sufficient funds for regular testing in subjects at grades 4, 8, and 12.
While NAEP is extremely valuable and does give us a national and State-by-State barometer, NAEP does not provide individual student performance data. National testing could provide such information for each fourth and eighth grader who participates. Aligning these tests to existing NAEP measures could further add to the value of such testing.
In North Carolina we are already looking at aligning our standards with the NAEP standards. If the national tests use a similar reporting standard and we have been told that that is under consideration then this would give us yet another level of validation of student achievement. We would, of course, expect that the test meets requirements of being free from racial, cultural, and gender bias.
In this country we do not have a national testing program that provides parents access to information that gives them the perspective of how their children are achieving compared to other State, national, and international results. In the absence of such national student performance reporting, we depend on such measures as the SAT. However, we have all been cautioned repeatedly that while the SAT is considered a good measure of how well students may do in college, the variable rates of participation make meaningful State-by-State comparisons difficult.
National testing would complete an important framework, linking individual student performance to performance at the school level, the school district level, the State level and, with these tests, the national and international level.
With regard to national testing, we understand that there are issues yet to be resolved. In North Carolina we have a State curriculum that is based upon widespread input. Our teachers know what they are expected to teach. How they teach that curriculum, however, is very much a local decision. Local control is one of the three cornerstones of our current reform effort.
We understand concerns related to a national curriculum, and we are not in favor of a national curriculum. Furthermore, we only favor national testing in the core areas of reading and mathematics. All States, like ours, still have questions about cost, use of personnel, management of the database, and timely reporting to students and parents. And it will be imperative that since national testing is proposed as a voluntary initiative, that we have enough participation to produce a true and accurate picture of State-by-State student performance.
I encourage you to keep the national testing effort going. I truly believe that this is a worthwhile effort, a move toward greater accountability for our public schools. Once again, I appreciate the opportunity to testify today, and I would be pleased now to respond to any questions.
SEE APPENDIX F -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF HON. MICHAEL WARD, STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Chairman Goodling. Thank you all for your testimony.
Dr. Ward, if you knew that the Federal Government was going to come up with $100 million for education, and you were superintendent of the Pittsburgh schools, unlike Upper Saint Clair, 20 miles beyond, where every parent has a bachelor's degree most have master's, and quite a few have Ph.D's but you're the superintendent of Pittsburgh, obviously not like Upper St. Clair if you had that opportunity to get a part of that $100 million, would it be testing that would be your first priority, or reading readiness programs, improving literacy skills of parents, or teacher preparation and retraining? Where would your priority be if you had this $100 million dangling out here?
Mr. Ward. Obviously, those are tough
Chairman Goodling. Remember you are in Pittsburgh now, not Upper St. Clair.
Mr. Ward. I understand. I was in Granville County, which wasn't like Raleigh or Carey. That is a tough question, because, obviously, we would like to direct as many resources as possible towards instruction and improving the quality of teaching. But we have also found that doing a good job of assessing progress also helps us to call the question on the inadequacy of resources that may have been directed to districts that experience particular levels of difficulty.
In North Carolina, for example, our testing program has helped to call the question on schools that have been neglected in some districts because their performance was hidden on a systemwide average. Having a barometer, a gauge by which to compare the progress of our students, helps us, I believe nationally, to call the question on where we are not getting the job done for schools that may be in crisis, whether it is a single district, whether it is a State.
So, hopefully, a national testing program could help us to gauge the progress of States, the relative progress of our students in order to make sure that we are doing the best job of directing resources to the greatest need.
Chairman Goodling. I will put you in a position of a student in Pittsburgh. You have been told all your life that you are doing poorly, and now you are going to be told one more time you are doing poorly. How do you feel as a student? You know, as I tried to tell them, you don't fatten cattle by weighing them.
Mr. Ward. Sure. And we have a great sensitivity to the amount of testing that is done and the number of days that are spent in testing, and we understand that that is an important issue to consider. But we also believe, if I am that student in Pittsburgh, I am not sure that it is possible for him or her to realize the significance of how that testing program may ultimately help us understand how important it is as a Nation, and State by State, to direct new resources and adequate resources to public schools.
Sure, that youngster needs the resources. And I hope they are not going to be put in the position of an either/or question. I hope that we can manage to direct the resources that are needed at the schools and do an adequate job of assessing student progress across the Nation, and that is not an either/or question. But that assessment process may ultimately help us to call the question and to make sure we direct adequate resources where they are needed.
Chairman Goodling. I hope that is not an either/or question for North Carolina. It is an either/or question for the Congress of the United States, unfortunately.
Governor Branstad, whenever I see results, and I look at certain States that seem to do quite well, does keeping the family unit intact have anything to do with that?
Governor Branstad. You might say it has everything to do with that. And even in Iowa, a State where families are probably more intact than probably a lot of other places, one of the things we are investing resources in is early childhood education, working with families, because a number of children are born to single parents and kids are growing up without adequate support and help at home. So early childhood education is a major area of focus now, because that family unit and the support of the family for education is critically important. And I think that is one of the reasons why the State of Iowa has historically done very, very well in terms of academic achievement in school at all levels.
Chairman Goodling. Mr. Brogan, you have headed up the system now in Florida, what, since '91?
Mr. Brogan. '94, sir.
Chairman Goodling. '94. If you have seen marked improvement, what do you believe is the major reason for that improvement?
Mr. Brogan. This answer, Mr. Chairman, sounds somewhat ethereal, I suppose. But I think the biggest change in thinking that we are starting to see in Florida can be characterized in one word and that is "expectations." And if you will allow me to generalize here for just a moment, I think one of the biggest problems plaguing public education here in this country for 20 years has been in the area of expectations.
By the way, public education has not cornered the market on this issue. I think many families do not expect enough of their children, many communities and States do not expect enough of their children. But I think public education for 20 years has succumbed to that national disease that says every time children do not give you what you expect, you simply lower the expectation, and it is far easier to do that.
So as we raise standards and raise graduation requirements and put in place new testing instruments that are at a challenging and rigorous level, as we begin to identify critically low performing schools where literally up to two-thirds of the children in them cannot read, write, or calculate mathematically at their grade level, the whole intent is to first seize the system by the lapels and shake it and have us acknowledge that if indeed we are going to say all children should learn, the next question we should utter is "Then why aren't they?" and find ways to change the system, to see to it that we are helping children learn at their maximum potential.
Certainly the governor is right; family is an enormously important part of that, as is community support and State support. But I think our system, which only controls what happens to them from the time they walk on the campus in the morning until the time they walk off in the afternoon, needs to recognize that we are major players in constructing a system that should constantly be open for review and change to make sure we are serving the needs of the children in those seats today.
And I think, and I will wrap up, in large measure that is one of the things that our new State standards have helped us to do, refocus our energy and our efforts and our resources, both human and monetary, on the most important and yet I think oftentimes overlooked component of education, teaching and learning, to get back to the business of making certain that if public education is really going to provide a level playing field, then literacy is the issue of the day and making certain that all children come through our system more literate than ever before.
One final note, if you will indulge me, is your words "cart before the horse," and I have said this repeatedly regarding national tests. In Florida, as you heard in my testimony, we spent over 2 full years on developing State standards before we ever turned our attention to the creation of a State test. And I and many in my profession are concerned that we are going to be, if we are not careful, asked in Florida to assume de facto national standards because we will be told that the standards are imbedded in the voluntary test.
And I think that, as I alluded in my testimony, one of the things that we have got to do is engage this country in a national debate on what children should know and be able to do before we rush to put in place a test, and which I agree, which may endanger students by simply telling the ones that are already being told that they are failing that we are right, you are failing again. And I think legacy is a wonderful thing to leave, but I am real concerned that this is being done in a very, very quick manner that I think could be bad for children, and that is the bottom line.
Chairman Goodling. I did not hear any of you indicate, if there are going to be different standards, don't we first of all have to prepare the teacher to teach to the standards?
And just two comments. I have to run, but Lindsey is here to take over. I am assuming that all of you have a lot of money out there, because when we give you that first $100 million, we are finished. I hope you understand that. Somebody on the first panel said testing is so expensive. And I just hope that you all understand that when we are finished with the first $100 million, it is your baby, you are not hooked. That is generally the way we operate. You know all about special education, I know.
The second one. On my side of the aisle we had those who said, well, there is only one way to teach math. And then we got 300 letters from 300 math people who said, no, wait a minute, what the department is doing is not the way we believe math should be taught, but it is the way that they, who are the people who were involved, it is the way they sell their textbooks and their materials, and so on.
And so I was so happy that we moved to NAGB, and one of those math persons testified before our Committee out in California and he said, oh, that is a big deal, there are too many people that deal with math on NAGB who are all convinced that there is only one way to teach math. And that is true. How relieved I am now that I have heard that.
Mr. Martinez. Mr. Chairman, how long ago was it we went to York to hold that hearing in your district?
Chairman Goodling. About 3 years ago.
Mr. Martinez. I think was before that, 5 or 6 years ago.
Chairman Goodling. It had to be more than 3.
Mr. Martinez. I just wanted to remember that, because the statement that we have not been discussing this or there needs to be a great debate, with at least some of us there has been a great debate on that issue for years and years. And the good thing is now that maybe a lot of other people are getting on the bandwagon.
You know, I think it was in Reagan's first 3 years in office, you know how long ago that was, that the report of Nation at Risk came out, and still there were very few people that really took that to heart. I mean, the question of children's ability to learn has been one that has been foremost in many people's minds.
Maybe you are right that it has not gotten the national debate that was needed before. But I think the Governors Association over the last few years has been bringing this to light and debating it on a national basis, and it has all helped to bring us where we are today, that maybe we will finally do something about it.
One question, Mr. Brogan, is that in your testimony you referred to and used the word "thankfully." "In response to concerns expressed by organizations such as ours, the National Assessment Governing Board, NAGB, was given the exclusive and final authority over the development of any national test."
Now, I want to tell you that came about in a compromise out of the conference Committee when the Labor-HHS appropriation bill was in conference. And you really have to give Mr. Goodling credit because he had passed on the floor, quite unanimously, a bill that would not allow any monies to be spent for that testing or development of the testing. However, the President actually sent out a strong veto message, if that legislation was in that appropriation bill, he would veto it. And as a result, he and the White House began to talk. What I think is a good compromise came out of it, one I think we ought to honor as far as what the National Academy of Sciences do with these studies. It would give us even more to debate because it will give us factual information.
But in your testimony, when you used the word "thankfully," it seems to me that you do not have any problem with the National Assessment Governing Board being the sole authority for those tests and that you express some confidence in NAEP. But when you say that those employed by NAEP would undercut hard-won efforts to develop the implementing of the rigorous standards of academic achievement at the State level that you developed, this leads me to the question I would ask Mr. Ward.
In North Carolina, because a big concern here indicates to me that you are concerned about, and I am concerned about it too, and I think every member of this Committee is concerned about the Federal Government becoming dictators of national curriculum or curriculum in any particular locality. Because we still believe, and I have tried to convince my colleagues on the other side when they talk about that, as far as I know the State board of education is still in charge of education in that State and the local boards of education are controlling education in their individual communities, and I do not think there is any plan afoot to disrupt that particular plan.
The only time the Federal Government really gets involved on a local level is when they mandate a program like bilingual education and they need accountability for how monies are spent on that program, or special education or IDEA or the various programs that were mandated mostly because of the court decisions that were made that we had to do something about it. And so that is the only real intrusion there, and I do not think that is substantial enough to make the charge that all of a sudden the Federal Government is going to become one of the dictators of curriculum.
But that would lead me to my question on North Carolina, which seems it be a perfect example of that not happening. You have been participating in NAEP for several years now. Have you felt that the use of NAEP in the development of your national test would undermine your State's test or push you toward a national curriculum?
Mr. Ward. No. And with all respect to my colleague from Florida, we believe that the dialogue that needs to be engaged in North Carolina is what North Carolinians think their youngsters ought to know and be able to do, and that is the dialogue in which we have been engaged for the last several years.
For the that reason, we have a North Carolina course of study and we have a testing program that is directly linked to that North Carolina testing program. What is absent from a process like that is a gauge by which parents, in addition to knowing how their youngsters stack up on the North Carolina curriculum and assessment system, a gauge by which parents can also determine how that stacks up with other States and with the Nation, and for that matter in international comparisons. A testing program that applies to individual students, that is linked to NAEP and exercises the same high standards as NAEP, would provide us that mechanism for individual student reporting.
So in answer to your question, no, we do not feel that pressure, but we think this is a useful additional accountability mechanism and one that is particularly useful to parents because of high emphasis on a State curriculum and a State testing program.
Mr. Martinez. Thank you, Mr. Ward. I see my time has run out. There are a lot of questions I would like to ask, but we do not have much time at these hearings to ask the questions.
I just want to say this: I commend both the governor and yourself, Mr. Brogan, that both of you and your States are really doing what needs to be done to make sure the kids move along and progress as they should on a equal playing field. I think a lot of States are moving into that and trying to find ways to make sure all their children are educated. But I like the statement, I forget which one of you made it, that you need to bring every child along; you need every child to have that access to quality education. And that is something I think this Committee should be concentrating on, and I think we ought to be concentrating on some of the concerns expressed about the conditions of our facilities.
We held a hearing just last week in California, in a school in my district, and it was noticeable to anybody that attended that hearing that the condition of that particular school was deplorable. It needed a lot of maintenance. And in the President's proposal of $22 billion for the renovation of schools, this is only going to cover a part of it, $1 billion short of the necessary money that we will need nationally to just do the things that the law mandates, removal of asbestos and the access to handicapped people in these schools.
If you have got $22 billion appropriated for that but you already have designated $23 billion to do those two things, you can see where it is not going to provide much money to go on to the other things that we need to do to repair a lot of the infrastructure in our schools, and it certainly is not going to do anything to help train the teachers and provide equipment and capital improvements to the schools so that they can bring those children on line with modern technologies that are being used in teaching.
I have to rush like the Chairman did. And I want to thank you for your valuable testimony. Like I said earlier, I wish we had held this later in the week when there would be other members present to take advantage of this valuable testimony. Thank you.
Mr. Graham. [Presiding.] Thank you, Mr. Martinez, Mr. Scott.
Mr. Scott. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Governor Branstad, you indicated that if we had national tests, we would have de facto national standards. Mr. Martinez had indicated that we had a hearing in California. That hearing was on technology and the inability to fill a lot of vacancies because our students are not up to date. The day before that hearing we had a press conference in Virginia, a lot of jobs in technology that we cannot fill because the students are not qualified for the jobs. Isn't there some national standards, since we are in a global economy, that our students ought to be coming up to?
Governor Branstad. Well, I really believe this is a responsibility of the State. Let me share with you what we are doing in the State of Iowa.
First of all, the State has made a huge investment, building a statewide fiber optics network which is now connecting all of our colleges and universities and will by 1999 connect every single school direct. Plus, we are providing $30 million a year for technology and school improvement.
We are now working with former Governor Caperton from West Virginia, in his new position with Columbia University College of Education, in looking at how we can improve the preparation of teachers so that they use technology effectively as a tool in the learning process. And then we can also do something that West Virginia and some other States have already done, that is, bring up to speed their teachers in using technology to improve education. I think this is all a part of recognizing every kid can learn and doing everything we can to try and prepare our people for the jobs of the future.
I really would rather have the resources available so that that decision can be made at the State and local level, than have the Federal Government spend a lot of money in developing new tests. I also am in a State where the Iowa Test of Basis Skills are developed and administered privately, and voluntarily over 99 percent of our schools use the Iowa Test of Basic Skills.
Mr. Scott. You are doing well in Iowa. Shouldn't we have a standard for all States to come up to that kind of level?
Governor Branstad. Our concern is it will bring Iowa down, because we are setting ambitious and high goals. I think what you heard from Florida and North Carolina is other States are doing the same thing. Our concern is that if that is not happening everywhere, there will be an effort to try to bring us down to a level that and I think that is the concern, is are we in fact going to have that effect. We are saying we want rigorous national standards, but those of us that have already been doing it are fearful that these standards will be far lower than what we demand and expect from our kids in our individual school districts and State.
Mr. Scott. That is a challenge we have nationally, and I am sure that is a challenge that you have in your State, trying to bring the bottom up and not the top down.
Governor Branstad. That is the reason we are trying to invest in early childhood, because these kids that are not getting the advantage and help at home in dealing with brain development between birth and age 3 or 4 are put at a terrible disadvantage. If we can do something about that so that they start school ready to learn, we think we will do more to bring the bottom up.
Mr. Scott. You say you are doing that now?
Governor Branstad. I have a major initiative before my legislature right now to do that, early childhood, and we are looking at making a huge investment in that over the next several years. Because we see that the research on brain development I think confirms that a lot happens before a kid ever starts school. Several States are doing this now, trying to intervene early with families that do have problems, to do what can be done to help kids and their families so that they get the stimulation and encouragement and all of the nurturing that needs to happen in those early years, so even before they start preschool their brain is properly wired in order to learn.
Mr. Scott. I want you to come back to a hearing to let us know how you succeed on that, because I agree with you and wish you the best of that luck on this initiative.
Governor Branstad. Thank you.
Mr. Scott. Let me ask the panelists on validation and racial and cultural bias whether they can say anything about the test. Mr. Ward, I think you have a case in Johnston County, if you could mention that and what the status of that case is.
Mr. Ward. The Johnston County case revolves not so much around the content of the test and its validity, it revolves more around the question of whether or not that test needs to be used in high stakes decisions about grade level promotion. You may be aware that an injunction sought in that case was not granted by the courts. And again, it is not a question of the test validity for sampling the content and covering the subject areas that it covers. The question before the court is whether or not the test ought to be used in high stakes decision-making about grade level promotion.
Mr. Scott. And should it?
Mr. Ward. We think it ought to be one variable in decisions about grade level promotion. And the Johnston County folks have gone back and revisited that issue, multiple test-taking opportunities, some teacher judgments about whether or not waivers ought to be granted in certain cases so that it is not a single-shot test.
Mr. Scott. And whether or not it is not the fault of the student but the fault of the system not teaching?
Mr. Ward. That is certainly a variable to be considered as well. And again, one of the values of an assessment program that samples in the manner that we are talking about is that it not only provides us information regarding a student's progress, but it also should provide us some useful information regarding how well curriculum is being delivered.
Mr. Scott. Anybody else want to answer the question on validation?
Mr. Brogan. Congressman, I think we have probably come a long way on that issue over the past 20 or so years as States and school systems and universities have used more and more testing as a part of their programs. I would suggest that there is considerably less cultural bias in testing today than possibly there was 20 years ago as we've learned how to be more sensitive to those issues.
But I think very important is what you test, because I think in some degree that will ultimately help determine. As you heard and I said to my friend Mike, I am glad I was not on the last panel. Those people are much smarter than I am on the technicalities of testing. But I heard one of the experts say it, and that is that if you are sensitive to it and if you know when you are constructing the test that what is on the test is what you have taught, and I will touch more on teaching to the test in just a second if you will indulge me, I think there is lot less possibility that you are going to craft a test that has within it cultural bias.
But even in Florida, as we have put our test together, we know that as we administer that test, if we find questions in it that are subject to cultural bias and there is a consensus that they are, a test should be a living document and it is simple just to eliminate that part of the test and replace it with something that is not.
My position on teaching to the test is this: When I was a 5th grade teacher, every Monday I would assign my students 20 spelling words that they were going to be required to learn not only how to spell but to define and use in a sentence. And we have all been 5th graders, we remember the drill. And then on Friday I would, with a clean sheet of paper, ask them to number it 1 to 20 and I would call out the word and they were required to write down that word and then I would grade it appropriately for spelling.
I suggest to you that I was teaching to that test. But I was not teaching to the test as a process, I was teaching to the test because it was critically important that my 5th graders knew how to spell those words so that ultimately, and I guess I am spinning off again into the ethereal, but ultimately they could use those words and the literacy that they were achieving to find their rightful place in the American dream.
And I think what we are trying to do in Florida, and I suggest other States around the country are following suit as well, is to decide finally what is, among other things, important for a youngster to be able to know and be able to do as they move from elementary school, middle school, and high school. And we are not arrogant enough to suggest that everything in those standards constitutes all of the wisdom of the ages, but nevertheless agreed upon by parents and teachers and business partners, et cetera, technology built into that as well, Congressman, is what should a child be able to do.
And then I think in somewhat a unique fashion, because it is a little unique today, instead of buying it off the shelf, craft a test and create the best possible assessment, knowing that any assessment is going to be inherently flawed. There is no perfect assessment, even my 20-word spelling test. But use a variable of multiple choice questions and short answer questions, so not only can children produce stored knowledge through multiple choice but demonstrate knowledge through being required to write to prove they can, and to calculate mathematically to prove they can with and without a calculator.
And my whole point in saying that is to say, once we score that test, if children are scored on their ability to read and write and calculate mathematically, which to me is still the primary focus of what we are about, then teaching to that test and making certain that what we are scoring is a child's ability to read, write, and calculate mathematically at a higher level this year than they did the year before, then shouldn't we be making certain that that is what we are teaching and teaching towards?
And I think that is what we are all about right now in Florida, is trying to evidence the fact that against those 21st century standards, our children possess 21st century skills.
Mr. Graham. You can tell I am very lenient. I appreciate your coming. I am very interested in hearing what you have got to say, so please go on talking. But Mr. Hinojosa is next and I want to give him a chance to ask questions. Mr. Ward, would you like to comment?
Mr. Ward. Just a simple summary statement to Congressman Scott, that North Carolina's interest in a testing program of this sort assumes that answers about racial, cultural, and gender bias will be taken care of in the development of the test. We are not interested in a test that does not meet that high standard.
Mr. Graham. Thank you, Mr. Hinojosa.
Mr. Hinojosa. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I envy all of you and your States because you all are handling so many of these problems that we are struggling with. And North Carolina and Iowa do not have quite the large number of Hispanic students that I have in the area that I represent, so possibly my questions will be addressed more to Frank Brogan.
The States of California, Texas, Florida are amongst the top 10 states that have the largest Hispanic student populations. So what I would like to ask you is, how has Florida overcome the difficulties associated with fairly testing students with disabilities and limited English proficient students? And the second part to the question is, do you believe your State-based assessment will give an accurate picture of the performance of these two populations?
Mr. Brogan. Well, Congressman, first of all let's say if Florida had overcome that problem, I would now be on a best selling book signing tour. I wish I could say we had. And that would be disingenuous. We are grappling with those issues, just as, and you are correct, sir, are States like California and Texas with an enormously diverse student population.
In Florida we have 2-1/2 million students K through 12 who come from not only native Floridian status but also States all over the country and all over the world. Miami-Dade, which has close to 350,000 students now in it, is approximately 85 percent minority categorization, which sort of begs the question, when does one stop being a minority and start becoming a majority? But, nevertheless, we have got an enormously diverse population.
And as we build our standards, as we began to build them, even long prior to the development of the actual assessment, we included in that process people from our bilingual community, not just professional educators but also parents and others. We included in that population, as we developed those standards, people from our special education world, not just teachers but parents and others who are keenly aware that we want all of those children to go to the same place in time as they become adults.
But what standards we set, what measures of assessment we use need to be fine tuned to make sure that we are not holding down students for artificial reasons. And that is something we are continuing to grapple with, is who we test, how we test them, what accommodations, as one of the other panel members mentioned, to see to it that we are testing what children really know and not what they are unable to do for a variety of variabilities. So we are really grappling with that.
But I will, if you will let me close on this point, say this: There is a question as to some of the new initiatives, not just testing but some of the other Federal initiatives being discussed right now. And I guess I am a little more realistic on this, coming from the State, and the whole issue of bilingual education is a major one for us in Florida.
While we continue to talk about adding a laundry list of new Federal initiatives, and I said this to a Senate Committee meeting just four weeks ago here in Washington on the issue of Federal funding, in Florida by Congress' definition we are losing about $350 million a year to fully fund the IDEA law, Exceptional Education Law, Public Law 94-142. We are, based on the Federal Government's own criteria, being shorted about $600 million through the immigration assistance program that we have to help fund the special needs of newly arrived immigrant students.
My point of saying that is, to the quick tally of almost $1 billion that Florida is now placing into the pot to help support Federal mandated programs, what I would simply say is before any new Federal mandates are added to the list, fully fund those programs which currently are existing in law. And then we just in Florida would be up to the tune of $1 billion in additional money that we could put back into programs to assist our new immigrant arrivals and to assist our special education population.
And I know it is always attractive to add new programs to the list. I understand that. But I also know that every time you add a new program and fund it, either fully or partially, it puts yet one more additional economic strain on a State like Florida which is really wrestling with how to better educate our immigrant students, how to better educate our exceptional education students so that they can fully realize their dream.
Mr. Hinojosa. Thank you. Would the Governor or other gentleman like to address how you all are dealing with the disadvantaged not disadvantaged, necessarily, but the disabled students and the Hispanic student population.
Governor Branstad. In Iowa, although we have a very low minority student population, we have significant growth. It is the greatest area of growth in our student population at this time, especially among Hispanic students, so it is an area that we are beginning to address more and more.
My comments would be very similar to Mr. Brogan from Florida. We have concerns about special Ed and adequate funding for that, and for other programs like Title I reading, which is critically important for these kids at the early stages. We also are trying to augment that with the new programs that I mentioned to Mr. Scott in my State initiatives this year before the general assembly, making a major focus on early childhood education and doing that in conjunction with the initiative to provide better health care for these children as well. So that is how we are trying to address it.
We are also a local control State, so it does vary somewhat, school district by school district, in the initiatives, in the way that schools are approaching that. I also have appointed a commission on Latinos that is an advocacy group that has worked very closely, especially in this community, with the new immigrants, and making sure that we are working with the parents and the families, as well as with the kids.
Mr. Hinojosa. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Graham. Mr. Ward, would you want to say anything?
Mr. Ward. I was just going to respond to Congressman Hinojosa's question about North Carolina's measures.
We anticipate that in this year's legislative priorities and budget request that both of the populations you have addressed will be key priorities, and these are some of the same students, I believe, that Chairman Goodling was referring to when he asked the question about assurances to those youngsters about where we are going to place an emphasis and priority in dollars. I am convinced that in North Carolina this sort of an assessment program will wind up being good news to more students than not, because they frequently hear the news that their State fares poorly on some measures of student success. The one measure that provides an apples-to-apples comparison across the Nation shows North Carolina students performing at the middle of the pack nationally and making progress. We believe that the individual student mechanism, which is linked to NAEP and provides that mechanism, would actually be quite a bit of good news for most students.
Mr. Hinojosa. Thank you, Dr. Ward.
Mr. Brogan. Mr. Chairman, could I make one more statement?
Mr. Goodling. Absolutely.
Mr. Brogan. I guess to kind of summarize at least my position and, I think, that of the Education Leaders Council position on the issue of national testing and standards, because that is why we are here today I guess to first start in the negative
Mr. Graham. And I am going to ask you some questions, too, but go ahead.
Mr. Brogan. I don't fear, in Florida, national testing and national standards. My fear is on the other side. The Governor touched on it a little bit.
I fear, first of all, you have a State, and there are States in the country who have already set challenging, rigorous standards, there are already States in the country that have set challenging and rigorous assessments. Our fear is, A, that any time you can get 50 States and all of the special interest groups surrounding public education to agree on one set of standards, you are far more prone, although I understand not guaranteed, to water down to a common denominator that people will accept, which may put States like mine and I am speaking selfishly at a disadvantage.
Since we have just gotten our State geared up for higher standards and higher expectations and not without a great deal of debate and consideration you may run the risk of getting people to agree to a testing system that does the same, waters down to a level of testing that you can get everyone to agree to and accept, even through voluntary methodology. And we are concerned about the fact that we made such significant strides in our State, and the other States in the country, that if we are not careful, we may find ourselves explaining to the citizens why the United States expects something less of its children than does the State of Florida.
The other is duplication, not only of time and testing, but money. Our State, as have the other States in the ELC, spent a great deal of time, as you heard me outline in the development of our standards and the development of our testing instrument, and in what I believe will be the ensuing ramifications of teacher training staff development, retraining of existing work force, better preparation of our incoming work force and we are concerned about the potential for duplication of those efforts.
If we are already giving a local test, a State test, and now potentially, if we can't bring the two together, a national and State test on top of what we are already doing, there are going to be obvious and not positive ramifications to what that might mean for classroom teachers and school districts and the State as a whole.
I say all that to say, sometimes when we talk in what may sound to be a negative way about national testing and national standards, and sometimes by virtue of that fact we are accused of being weak about accountability and comparison, there are some of us that need to stand up and say, not only do we not fear it, we fear exactly the opposite of what might be if we are not careful with this whole process.
Mr. Graham. Thank you. I know you probably have planes to catch, and we all appreciate very much your coming. What you are trying to tell me is that every house probably needs a floor, but you determine how high the ceiling is, sort of, and the question is who builds the floor and who determines how high the ceiling is.
I am pretty much a believer in people building their own houses if they are capable of doing it.
Let me just from my perspective tell you where I think we are at as a Congress, and this is just Lindsey Graham speaking. Last year, 290 of us and, I think, most of the people on this Committee said, whoa, said we do not want to implement a national test, voluntary or otherwise, until we are consulted and we understand where this thing is taking us.
My friends on this side of the aisle have expressed concerns about racial and gender bias. That is a very real concern in every test, and we are about to create another test that is even more damaging because as the Chairman said, how many times do you need to weigh the cow. Before you find out what the cow weighs, you need to fatten it up, you need to give it some food.
So many of my colleagues were worried they were going to put their constituents at a further disadvantage and we would know no more than we already know. Some of us were worried about the money. You know, in South Carolina and, I am sure, North Carolina, 100 million bucks is a lot of money. I feel your over-mandated, under-funded pain, and we are about to add to that pain because the Chairman is right, the money will be there for a short term and then off we go.
Some of us, like myself, are a bit suspicious of the Federal Government. Being from South Carolina, we have held that view for a long time, and I don't think it is an unfounded suspicion.
Politics in education is very real, and that is not a bad thing; that means people care. Any time you have political debate, that means people care. Some people want home school, some people want to go to private school, some people choose public education. I support public education, but I support choice for other parents. And to me, my fear is this: It duplicates what we are already doing. You're testing kids to death.
We know where the problems lie and you are best able to solve them, not me. But if you allow me "me" being the Federal Government to set a test, and I judge your teachers by the test, I am beginning to own you. Whether you like it or not, that is the fact.
If the way you are judged is by how well you do on a certain test, and the person running the test has an inordinate amount of political power, and I think just real power does anyone disagree with that basic concept? Governor, how do you feel about the Federal Government doing that role?
Governor Branstad. Having been governor for the last 15 years and having been through both of the education summits, I think most of the governors in America would agree with your assessment.
I said it in my remarks, thank God, Thomas Jefferson had the foresight to believe in a decentralized government and gave them primary responsibility for education, went to the States and to the local schools. I think that was a wise decision. I think, had it gone the other way, it would have been bad for this country. I fear that we could be reversing that if indeed we are starting to see a lot more mandates from the Federal level.
Mr. Graham. The writing of the test would be the most dramatic change in power from local education to Federal education in my lifetime. Do you agree with that statement?
Governor Branstad. Yes, because with the writing of the test, you have, de facto, a national curriculum.
Mr. Graham. Do you agree with that, Mr. Brogan?
Mr. Brogan. Mr. Chairman, that I expressed earlier and I will say again, that concerns me greatly.
Again, we spent 2 years and that is the collective "we" on the development of our standards before we ever got to the issue of how now do we test. We have really not had a great deal of discussion about standards over the last year in this country. We rushed, I think, to begin the discussion about testing.
And I agree about politics. I think we have rushed to the discussion of testing because we found out several years ago how inflammatory a discussion of national standards can be, if we all remember back to the national debacle which was our national history standards; and I am afraid that what we are doing is saying, by virtue of that fact, let's skip the front door and go through the back door and create a test and tell everybody that what is in the test happens to be also the national standard. And that does concern me.
I think if we are going to have a national policy debate on testing and on assessment, that debate needs to take place in an open air of honest discussion and collegiality and to do anything less, to rush to get something on the table for comparison purposes, I think puts many at a gross disadvantage.
Mr. Graham. Mr. Ward.
Mr. Ward. Congressman Graham, I want to begin by respectfully challenging the assumption that it duplicates something which already exists. We are not aware of any measure that is, at this point, useful on an individual student basis that provides the kinds of comparisons that can be provided through this kind of a measure.
That said, we have the same concerns that you do. We don't believe this needs to be a politicized process. We support the move of the Congress to move this to NAGB and to de-politicize the process as much as possible. We also advocate leanness in this process as well. We believe reading and math is as much as needs to be addressed through this testing program.
Mr. Graham. I am glad to hear you say that, because I think the compromise speaks very much to what you just expressed, Mr. Ward. The compromise was Congress saying, whoa, to just going out and getting this national test started and a bureaucracy surrounding it and institutionalizing it before the debate has occurred.
The compromise says the following: There right now is a lack of an individual student evaluation process, but there is, in fact, a variety of tests that are administered throughout the country that one can compare results to, but that is probably not as sophisticated as it needs to be. And our compromise was, let's take the existing testing techniques and allow the National Science Foundation to come up with some correlation so that you, as States, can tap into it without turning over this huge political power that would occur with a new test if the Federal Government writes the test.
I think that is a responsible way to go, that allows us to give every parent in the Nation some idea of where their children are at, but it doesn't take away the authority from the classroom teacher and you folks to do it the way you want to and set the sky as the limit.
With that said, I think most Members of Congress are fairly united on this and that we want to go slow and have a good debate and come up with something that moves the ball forward without turning out more authority and creating more mandates.
With that said, any last comments, or we will wrap it up.
Governor Branstad. Congressman Graham, I want to first of all say that having worked
Mr. Graham. I'm sorry, it is the National Academy of Sciences. I was wrong. I'm sorry.
Governor Branstad. Having worked with the governors over the last 15 years, what I find most exciting is what happened in your region of the country, where the other two panel members and where you come from in the south, where governors and education leaders have really stepped up and made education a priority. I happen to come from an area of the country where, fortunately, we have had the benefit of that for a long time, but I see that happening through the country, and I think there is more interest in this than ever before. I think it is exciting.
I think you made a wise decision last year in not charging forward with a national test, and we appreciate very much respect for the initiative in the leadership that is being provided in the States and the local school districts across the country.
Mr. Brogan. Mr. Chairman, I will just wrap up by saying, believe me, having been in public education for 20 years, nobody is happier than I that finally education has reached the level of debate and import in this country, both from the Federal and State, and certainly the local level, that it has; and I think that is good news. Too many people, however, in my profession believe being the Nation's top priority means that baskets of money will rain down on you. What they need to understand is, being the top priority means greater scrutiny, greater consideration, greater debate and, no doubt, greater consternation, because we all want to make it better than it used to be; and I think that should always be the mission of public education in this country.
So we want to continue the debate and the discussion. It is important no one ever try to curtail the debate because it is emotionally charged and sensitive; and the members of the Education Leaders Council commit to you that we will be here whenever you call to try to provide any information that you would like to have on this or any other topics relative to education.
Mr. Graham. Thank you.
Mr. Ward. Congressman Graham, I just want to thank you and other members for the opportunity to address this issue today. We are grateful for the steps that have been taken so far to keep this debate alive. We encourage you to keep the debate alive. And we are grateful for some of the hard questions that are being asked around this issue of national testing. We believe a better product will result.
Thanks for the time.
Mr. Graham. Thank you all. It has been invaluable to us. Anything else from my colleagues?
Thank you very much.
[Whereupon, at 2:47 p.m., the Committee was adjourned.]