NATIONAL TESTING

HEARING

BEFORE THE

COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND

THE WORKFORCE

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS

SECOND SESSION

 

HEARING HELD IN GRANADA HILLS, CA, JANUARY 21, 1998

 

Serial No. 105-74

 

Printed for the use of the Committee on Education

and the Workforce


TABLE OF CONTENTS *

OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. WILLIAM F. GOODLING, chairman, committee on education and the workforce *

OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. HOWARD P. McKEON, A CONGRESSMAN FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA *

OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. ROBERT C. SCOTT, A CONGRESSMAN FROM THE STATE OF VIRGINIA *

STATEMENT OF YVONNE W. LARSEN, PRESIDENT, CALIFORNIA STATE BOARD *

OF EDUCATION

STATEMENT OF PAUL CLOPTON, MEMBER AND COFOUNDER, MATHEMATICALLY CORRECT *

STATEMENT OF ROXANNE PETTEWAY, PARENT *

STATEMENT OF REBECCA S. BOCCHINO, PARENT *

STATEMENT OF THERESA BUSTILLOS, VICE PRESIDENT OF LEGAL PROGRAMS, MEXICAN AMERICAN LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND *

APPENDIX A WRITTEN STATEMENT OF HON. WILLIAM F. GOODLING, chairman, committee on education and the workforce *

APPENDIX B WRITTEN STATEMENT OF HON. HOWARD P. McKEON, A CONGRESSMAN FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA *

APPENDIX C WRITTEN STATEMENT OF YVONNE W. LARSEN, PRESIDENT, CALIFORNIA STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION *

APPENDIX D WRITTEN STATEMENT OF PAUL CLOPTON, MEMBER AND COFOUNDER, MATHEMATICALLY CORRECT *

APPENDIX E WRITTEN STATEMENT OF ROXANNE PETTEWAY, PARENT *

APPENDIX F WRITTEN STATEMENT OF REBECCA S. BOCCHINO, PARENT *

APPENDIX G WRITTEN STATEMENT OF THERESA BUSTILLOS, VICE PRESIDENT OF LEGAL PROGRAMS, MEXICAN AMERICAN LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND *

TABLE OF INDEXES 147

NATIONAL TESTING FIELD HEARING

 

Wednesday, January 21, 1998

 

U.S. House of Representatives

Committee on Education and the Workforce

 

The Committee met, pursuant to call, at 9:00 a.m., at Frost Middle School, Granada Hills, California, Hon. William F. Goodling [Chairman of the Committee], presiding.

Present: Representatives Goodling, Scott, and McKeon.

Staff Present: Kent D. Talbert, Professional Staff Member; and Alexander G. Nock, Legislative Associate.

Chairman Goodling. Being an old superintendent of schools, I'm very fussy about starting on time. I used to schedule my meetings with staff and faculty at odd times, like 9:27 or 8:33 or something of that nature, just so that they understood that that's the time we start.

I also learned that in the Congress because sometimes you can sit and wait forever for a committee meeting to begin. All of us are very busy, and we shouldn't have to do that.

 

OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. WILLIAM F. GOODLING, chairman, committee on education and the workforce

 

Chairman Goodling. Well, first of all, I want to take this opportunity to welcome each of you to the first Committee hearing of 1998. We are the Committee on Education and the Workforce. And, as the title suggests, we have jurisdiction over Federal education and workforce legislation.

Today we will hear from several witnesses about their views and concerns on proposed Federal tests in fourth grade reading and eighth grade mathematics. Other issues that we expect will be addressed by witnesses include Federal versus State control of testing and recent developments in California's new State testing program.

I'd like to take this opportunity to extend special thanks to my good friend the Buckaroo, Congressman Buck McKeon, for his willingness to host this hearing. As many of you know, he is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Higher Education, and he will be quite active this year since we will be reauthorizing higher education, the main Federal law dealing with Pell grants, student loans, and financial aid for post-secondary education.

My next note says I am also pleased that Representative Miller has joined us, but he hasn't joined us. So we will skip that part. If he does, I will recognize him when he comes later.

I had hoped when we were having the hearing out here one of the reasons to have it here, I was hoping that Congresswoman Waters and Congressman Becerra could attend because they had a lot also to say, like the Chairman, about national testing. Unfortunately, their schedules didn't permit.

But I'm very pleased to have Congressman Bobby Scott with us from Virginia. Bobby is just such a wonderful person that, even when I think he's wrong, I really can't get all wound up to cut him into shreds because he's just too nice. And some other members of Congress I can get kind of wound up, but with Bobby, I can't. So I'm glad that he traveled the whole way from Virginia to join us out here today.

I'm very happy and want to thank a lot of people who helped us today to get everything organized: Ron Frydman, the principal; Joyce Edelson, an assistant principal; Toni Mannino, an assistant principal; and Tom Caswell, an assistant principal. Having been an educator for 22 years, I know that it can be disruptive to have people come into your schools. And so I'm very, very thankful that you have given us this opportunity to use your facilities.

They talked about cluster schools when I came in. I always fought the idea of consolidation because whenever anybody said, "It's going to give us better math programs and better science programs,'' I always said, "Yes, it will give us bigger courses, bigger bands, bigger football teams, bigger headaches, and bigger bus problems.'' So if I could wave a magic wand, I'd go back to the community school all over again, but I can't do that.

We have a group of witnesses today. We will hear from Yvonne Larsen, the President of the State Board of Education; the State Superintendent was unable because of her schedule to be here Paul Clopton, co-founder of Mathematically Correct; parents Roxanne Petteway and Rebecca Bocchino; and Teresa Bustillos, an attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

As I indicated, I have spent over 22 years in elementary/secondary education. And, therefore, I am very happy at the present time to be the Chairman of the Committee that deals with education, particularly in relationship to the Federal government.

Last year, the President proposed tests in fourth grade reading and eighth grade mathematics. With due respect to the President, I strongly opposed his national testing proposal, and there were many reasons. And I made this very clear to the President when we met on several occasions.

First of all, to me it was putting the cart before the horse. If I have $100 million to spend, I already know that 40 percent of our children at the end of 3rd grade are not necessarily reading at the 3rd grade level. We already know that. That's a given. We don't need another test to tell us that. That's a given.

So if I have $100 million to spend, it seems to me I'm going to try to find a way to change that. And I think perhaps the first thing I would do is make sure that teachers are properly prepared. There must be some connection there.

Secondly, I would make sure that children are reading-ready by the time they come to first grade, which means that I would have to do something about making sure that parents have the parenting skills and the literacy skills in order to make sure that happened. So all of those things, it would seem to me, would come first.

Secondly, I have a difficult time when people tell me that national tests don't necessarily mean national curriculum. I have a problem with that simply because if you're going to design a test, somebody has to determine what it is we're going to test. And once you decide what it is we're going to test, then it seems to me someone has to say what is in that test. Then you have to design the program, the material. You have to prepare the teacher to teach to whatever is in that test because if you don't, why are you giving the test in the first place?

So it's very difficult for me to understand how you can not couple the two. For instance, in reading, is it going to be reading strictly based on phonics? Is it going to be reading, I would hope never, on what we went through in the '60s, which was look-see? Is it going to be reading in relationship to whole language? I mean, somebody has to make that determination or is it going to be a combination of all three? Somebody has to make that determination, and once you make that determination, then you have to build the curriculum around that and you have to build the teacher training around that.

In Maryland, they tell me, the teachers tell me, they have, I think it is, 36 tests from kindergarten through 12th grade, standardized tests. The teachers tell me there's no creativity in teaching whatsoever because they know from day one they have to teach according to that test that is going to be given because, of course, they will look awfully good by the time they get to the end of the school year.

Well, 300 members of the House on a bipartisan basis just also agreed that we shouldn't be moving ahead at this time. And what we ended up with was that limited test development activities be allowed to go forward for one year but there would be no pilot testing, field testing, implementation or administration of any Federal tests in the Fiscal Year 1998. What, if anything, happens on the Federal testing beyond 1998 is an open question. And it's subject, of course, to the actions of Congress.

And so we're here today to find out what you think about national testing, and we look forward to the testimony of our witnesses. And before introducing our first panel of witnesses, which I believe is down to one, I'd like to briefly yield to the other members for any statements they wish to make. And since you're the host, you're not the "hostess with the mostest"; you're the host with the most, I guess we'll turn to Congressman McKeon.

SEE APPENDIX A WRITTEN STATEMENT OF HON. WILLIAM F. GOODLING, chairman, committee on education and the workforce

 

Mr. McKeon. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I see you're in fine fiddle this morning. I want to see who wrote that "Buckaroo'' in there.

OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. HOWARD P. McKEON, A CONGRESSMAN FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

 

Mr. McKeon. It's a real pleasure having you come to Southern California, especially to the 25th Congressional District. I also want to welcome Bobby, my good friend Bobby Scott. Bobby and I came to Congress together. And it's good to have both of you come across the country to be with us here. It's always like this here: beautiful, sunny. We actually have had a little rain the last little bit.

Chairman Goodling. I thought I read something about that.

Mr. McKeon. But today we have a nice, beautiful day.

I appreciate your willingness to choose Southern California as the site of your first hearing of the New Year. I also wish to also join in extending a special thanks to Ron Frydman, the principal of the Frost Middle School, and all of the staff of the school for your kind hospitality and your willingness to open your school for this event.

I'm proud of the education that is available to students in this district and wish to thank all of the teachers, administrators, and others for what they do to provide a quality education to families in this area. I would also like to thank Linda Lambourne of my staff for working so well with this school and coordinating this and helping at this end of the planning process.

Mr. Chairman, it was really a pleasure to work with you last year and since coming to Congress on a number of important education bills: IDEA, vocational education, job training, the dollars to the classroom resolution, the literacy bill, the national testing prohibition, and others. I'm proud of what we were able to accomplish, and I look forward to working closely with you again this year, particularly on the Higher Education Act.

As Chairman of the Subcommittee that is responsible for overseeing the Higher Education Act, I hope we will be able to improve upon what is already working for students across the country, eliminate or reform programs which are not working, and do it all in a way that ensures that precious taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. Our goals are to make higher education more affordable, simplify the student aid system, and stress academic quality.

Now to the business at hand today. The President's proposal for national tests in fourth grade reading and eighth grade mathematics was certainly the subject of much controversy last year.

What we had last year was a situation where the Department of Education and Washington bureaucrats were moving ahead unilaterally to develop Federal tests in reading and math. The difficulty with that approach was that Congress had no role, and few in the outside community did either. It was an effort to impose top down standards and tests at a fast-track pace, without really hearing from parents, teachers, and administrators at the local level, who know best.

That is why folks ranging from the school administrators to groups representing millions of families and parents to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund all opposed or expressed strong reservations about proceeding with the President's plan.

Our hearing today is part of a broader effort to hear from folks from all walks of life on the larger issues which surround the deliberations on the Federal government's proper role, if any, in national testing.

I look forward to the testimony and again wish to thank our witnesses for taking the time to join us here today. Thank you very much.

SEE APPENDIX B WRITTEN STATEMENT OF HON. HOWARD P. McKEON, A CONGRESSMAN FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

 

Chairman Goodling. Congressman Scott?

Mr. Scott. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 

OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. ROBERT C. SCOTT, A CONGRESSMAN FROM THE STATE OF VIRGINIA

 

Mr. Scott. I'm happy to join you and Buck McKeon, who is the Higher Education Chairman. That's going to be, as you've indicated, quite a job because 70 percent of the jobs in the future will require education past the high school level. So what we do in reauthorization will have a lot to do with what our young people have in terms of opportunities in the next century. So I look forward to working with him on that reauthorization.

And, Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for your hard work in education over the years, not just since you've been Chairman but on the many years that you've been on the Committee, you've brought your expertise. You've allowed us to use your expertise in helping to fashion education policy for America. And I think a lot of good things are in law today because of your work, not just since you've been Chairman but over the many years.

Mr. Chairman, when President Clinton announced his national testing initiative nearly a year ago, there was a lot of discussion, both among Democrats and Republicans concerned about that initiative, in addition to the concerns that you have expressed, other concerns, such as the validity of the test, is it testing the right things, does it test those things well, a possible cultural bias, are certain ethnic groups at a disadvantage in taking those tests, and then simply whether or not there are other uses of the money. Rather than spend the money on testing, could that same money be used to improve education? As some would say, you don't fatten a pig by weighing the pig. And the question is whether or not

Chairman Goodling. I think I would use beef.

Mr. Scott. Beef? Well, you've got to be careful what you say about beef these days.

[Laughter.]

Mr. Scott. So let the record reflect that I didn't say anything bad about beef.

Finally, after many months, the compromise that you indicated was contained in the appropriations legislation, which we thought put an end to the discussion, one of the things in that compromise was a study to be conducted by the three National Academies of Science, which was required. I would hope that we would wait for the results of these studies before we went forward.

The morning newspaper contains many reports about public interest in education. The President has a plan. Congressional leaders have a plan. Educational leaders have a different plan focused on education, especially targeted to areas of greatest need, especially at-risk students and the buildings that are crumbling in many jurisdictions.

I'd be happy to hear from our witnesses and what we can do in terms not only of testing but in other educational areas so that we can make sure that our children are prepared for the jobs in the next century.

Thank you very much.

Chairman Goodling. Thank you, Congressman Scott.

As I indicated, our first panel has been reduced. So our first witness is Ms. Yvonne Larsen, President, California State Board of Education. So if Ms. Larsen will come forward?

She was elected to the Governing Board of the San Diego Unified School District 1977 to '91, serving 2 terms as president, 1980-81. She was Vice Chair of the National Commission on Excellence in Education, which produced the landmark report, "A Nation at Risk.'' She was a trustee of the California State University system '74-'75.

She's extremely active in civic, community, and business organizations, including Sharp Hospitals Foundation, lead San Diego, San Diego Zoological Society, EdSource, Specific Homes, and Girl Scouts of San Diego and Imperial Counties. Mrs. Larsen earned her Bachelor's degree in business administration from San Diego State University.

And we are happy to have you testify this morning. You can do however you wish. You can summarize what it is you want to say. You can read, but however you wish. And then we'll have questions for you when you complete your testimony.

Ms. Larsen. Thank you. With your permission, I'll do a little bit of all of the above.

 

Chairman Goodling. Very good.

 

STATEMENT OF YVONNE W. LARSEN, PRESIDENT, CALIFORNIA STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION

 

Mrs. Larsen. Congratulations on starting the meeting on time. For all of us who have sat through lots of public sessions, it's really nice when we do adhere to the schedule. Just like I like real math and right answers, it's also nice to know that the time clock starts on time.

Chairman Goodling and members of the Committee, welcome to California. I appreciate this opportunity to testify before this Commission on an issue of such critical importance: education.

There is no greater challenge that faces the citizens of California and our nation than dramatically improving both educational opportunities and academic achievement of our nation's children.

As you have commented, I have a variety of bruises and battle scars from public service in the pursuit of improving education for our nation's children. One of my most challenging ones was indeed to serve as Vice Chair of the National Commission on Excellence in Education, which drafted "A Nation at Risk,'' the clarion call to Americans to get involved, to be sharing what was happening in their schools.

This process has been long and arduous, but I do feel at this point in time never have Americans been so engaged, empowered, and involved and care so much about what is happening in education. We are at a unique time in history.

For the record, I want to make it clear that the State of California has not endorsed President Clinton's plan for national testing. As California's State School Board President, I was concerned when President Clinton announced last February that California was in support of his proposal for national education tests in fourth grade reading and eighth grade mathematics.

The State Board sets policy for K-12 public education in California, along with the governor and with the State legislature. No such endorsement has taken place. In fact, at this point in time, the State Board has still not taken a position on national testing.

National education tests would greatly affect California and every other State in the union. For, as you know, the assessment tool in order to truly be meaningful and effective would need to be linked both to teacher ed training and the curriculum. Either intentionally or unintentionally, the President's proposal for national testing would certainly move us toward a national curriculum.

Although the Federal government has been involved in education since the creation of the Office of Education in the middle of the 19th century, policy direction and funding responsibility wisely have remained within the purview of the states.

Currently, the Federal role has been largely focused on student aid in higher education and compensatory and categorical programs at the elementary and secondary levels. The Department of Education for the United States of America should be a bully pulpit. In other things, they should not be involved.

Now we are being asked to consider whether it is appropriate for the Federal government to become directly involved in the creation, implementation, and management of national educational assessments. I believe and I say the answer is no for several reasons.

First, our Constitution of the United States provides no justification of this substantial increase in Federal involvement in education.

Second, the law creating the U.S. Department of Education was quite explicit in prohibiting the Federal department from becoming involved in State and local prerogatives concerning curriculum and teacher training, both of which would be dramatically affected by a national test.

Third, accountability in education is intimately tied to funding and taxing responsibility. States and local school districts are the governmental entities that have to raise the taxes to provide resources to the schools. If we are responsible for the tax and funding questions, then we must be responsible for the curriculum and assessment decisions as well.

Fourth, I do not believe the Federal government can effectively differentiate the needs and priorities of the people of California versus the people of Pennsylvania, Georgia, or North Dakota.

Our country's system of federalism has served us well for more than two centuries chiefly because each State has been allowed to address its challenges in a way that is appropriate for the citizens of that State. Improvement in our nation's schools will come as each State determines the most successful ways of educating its students.

Lastly, as one who did serve as Vice Chair of the National Commission on Excellence in Education, the phrase that is most coined from that speaks to the "rising tide of mediocrity.'' I am greatly concerned about a rising tide of Federal interference and regulation in education.

The Federal government continues to increase regulatory requirements for programs such as special education, while not paying for those mandates. You are aware that we have been asked to provide special education services for convicted felons in our State prisons, some of whom are on death row. It is precisely such regulatory zeal that leads us to worry.

I am also concerned that in the future, these tests would no longer be voluntary or that access to Federal education dollars would be contingent upon the use of these tests. Moreover, I fear the substantial expense of a national test will be passed along to the states with little or no reimbursement from Federal government, especially if it is done on a voluntary basis.

I'll give you a little brief history of California's recent efforts to develop a new test assessment. And because of the experience, I would urge great caution as you address testing issues.

Our last attempt on a statewide assessment program cost taxpayers of this State over $30 million and ended with Governor Wilson's veto of legislative reauthorization of CLAS, the California Learning Assessment System. I have dubbed it a four-letter word, and we're no longer allowed to use the word "CLAS'' in our deliberations.

Under that program, pupils in grades 4, 5, 8, and 10 were administered statewide tests in reading, written expression, mathematics, history, social science, and science.

The innovative aspect of CLAS was the attempt to use performance-based, assessments in which students were asked to apply reasoning skills and creative thinking to a given problem or situation. Its greatest flaw was that there were no statewide standards to assess against. So the content and scoring of the test became nonsensical because there was no agreement as to what was being tested.

Furthermore, as the development and administration proceeded, it was determined that CLAS would only be administered on a matrix sample basis. That is, each student took a sample of test items, rather than the entire test.

This procedure was used because producing individual scores was determined to be cost-prohibitive and completion of the entire test would take too much time away from instruction, two very important considerations.

In 1994, after only two years of administration, the CLAS test became the subject of intense controversy because it did not provide parents with individual pupil scores, scoring procedures and results were discovered not to be statistically valid or reliable. Additionally, many parents and legislators believed that the content of the tests was intrusive on pupils' privacy.

Mr. Scott mentioned the cultural biases and all, and there were some questions about some of the prompts that were in the CLAS tests, whether or not they were politically correct and whether they were invasive. So that was part of the downfall of CLAS.

In late 1995 and early 1996, the governor and the legislature revived statewide testing by enacting a series of bills that provided for the development of rigorous academic content and performance standards, with a $5 per pupil incentive program to encourage districts to administer standardized tests.

Well, as we know, the time went along, and the comparability was a tremendous problem. So we now are starting on a new procedure. And that is, in response to concerns about individual scores, the governor and the legislature recently enacted the standardized testing and reporting program. This has been dubbed STAR, another four-letter word, but we hope this is going to be the right four-letter word.

The STAR Program provides for a single nationally normed standardized basic skills test, a test of common knowledge, to be administered to all pupils in Grades 2 to 11, inclusive, in the English language. Reading, spelling, written expression, and mathematics are tested in Grades 2 and 8. Mathematics, history, social science, and science are tested in Grades 9 to 11.

In addition, the STAR program requires districts to administer a primary language test if available to all English language-proficient pupils enrolled for less than 12 months in California public schools.

The results of this testing in basic academic skills will be reported for individual students each grade level at each school, and each school district and county, and the State. We plan to have those results in and on the Internet by June 30th.

To that end, the California State Board of Education, using recommendations from the Academic Standards Commission, is working to develop and implement a comprehensive set of State academic content and student achievement standards, kindergarten through Grade 12, and a new State assessment system based on those standards.

Therefore, I believe that in the near future, California public schools can provide individual students and their parents with clear and accurate information about their knowledge of reading, math, and other subjects.

Lastly, at the Committee's request, I want to address the State Board's communication with the National Science Foundation concerning the recent adoption of mathematics standards. I believe it represents a cautionary tale of how the Federal government's good intentions in education could adversely affect the ability of states and local school districts to provide the best education for students.

At the State Board's recent December meeting, we adopted what we strongly believe to be rigorous standards for mathematics. These standards were drafted originally by our Academic Standards Commission. They had substantial public input. The State Board had substantial public input.

We did make some changes to the proposals based upon the six hearings we've had from Eureka to San Diego. The three most notable changes were eliminating references to student activities, which we felt group work was very hard to grade and to have standards for. Transferring of specific examples or clarifications to a standards document, we recommended that they be placed in a curriculum framework. And, third, we wanted to provide flexibility to districts in determining the instructional approaches in Grades 8 to 12 that they wanted that responded to the needs of their districts.

The Board focused on the what, not the how. So you can imagine our surprise and our disappointment when we received a letter the day of the vote on the approval of the standards from Dr. Luther Williams at NSF that was sharply critical of our efforts and of our mathematics standards.

In particular, Dr. Williams seemed to disapprove of allowing school districts to use traditional approaches to mathematics instruction. Although not supported by any known research, Dr. Williams alluded to the failure of these instructional approaches.

 

Dr. Williams also implied that National Science Foundation funding for projects at several State schools would be terminated if the State Board approved the standards under consideration.

I responded to Dr. Williams earlier this month with my concerns about the letter. I emphasized that the mathematics standards approved by the State Board are rigorous.

Additionally, I stated to Dr. Williams that the standards do not address the teaching approaches to be used in the State's classroom. And I suggest that NSF could provide positive assistance to California and to other states by providing pre and in-service training programs that would strengthen the mathematical knowledge base of our teachers.

I have since received a letter from Dr. Neal Lane, Director of NSF, clarifying NSF's position. Dr. Lane implied that the California mathematics standards were not computational only, as some have erroneously implied, and indicated that Dr. Williams was speaking for himself, not the National Science Foundation, in relation to the project funding.

That leaves me perplexed as to NSF's position and underscores for me yet another reason why policy should be established at the State and the local level, not the Federal level.

I would submit that this type of interference in a State education matter is inappropriate. Moreover, it reinforces my feeling that a national test would lead to heavy-handed Federal involvement in education policies of both states and local school districts.

Mr. Chairman, we all have a role to play in improving the educational achievement of our students. In particular, the Federal government can provide valuable research that assists states in making decisions on education policies. It can and should provide funding for some targeted programs such as IDEA. But curriculum, standards, and assessment decisions should be left up to the states and local school districts.

In California, we have more than 1,000 school districts with elected boards of education who respond to the grass roots concerns and input of their neighborhood constituencies.

This is one of the last bastions of local government. The people of America take that commitment very seriously. Californians take it very seriously. I think that the local input in making education responsive to the needs of their communities is far more important and far more in pursuit of excellence in education when the people that are dealing with the needs in different areas.

We all want a strong basic core knowledge, but we need to have the opportunity for local involvement and local concerns working in concert with the people of America, of California to make our education system appropriate to educational opportunities for all and to excellence in education.

Again I will say we are at a point in time where everyone is mobilized. They feel empowered. They are engaged. I think we need to move forward in a very positive way to do what is right for California's kids, for America's kids. And I think that is to allow State and local entities to maintain their authority and their involvement over what happens within their educational community within their area.

Thank you very much. I'll be happy to answer any of your questions and engage in dialogue with you as it appropriate. I'm sorry that Delaine is not with us this morning.

SEE APPENDIX C WRITTEN STATEMENT OF YVONNE W. LARSEN, PRESIDENT, CALIFORNIA STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION

 

[Applause.]

Chairman Goodling. Thank you very much for your testimony.

I want to make three announcements before we go on with the questioning. And I'll start with Congressman McKeon and then Congressman Scott. I'll wind it up.

Number one, since we only had one person on the first panel, I ignored the light system. But for everyone else, I will explain what the light system is all about.

They used to say that when you hear the first bell, it's time to slow down and when you hear the second bell, it's time to shut up. Well, this is different. When you see the green light, that means you have five minutes. When you see the yellow light, that means it's time to wind up. And when you see the red light, that means the Chairman can get impatient. So that's number one.

Number two, I want to welcome the students. I don't have to tell you, I hope, you are the future. And in the Twenty-First Century, how well you will do in the future and whether we remain a great nation or not will have an awful lot to do with your achievement in school, your academic excellence. You won't get by as those of us who are sitting up here could years ago in this very high-tech world.

I mentioned before we came in here that you used to be considered a functional illiterate if you couldn't read and write at the sixth grade level. Now you're considered a functional illiterate if you can't read and write, comprehend well at the 12th grade level. And it won't be very long until it will be way beyond the 12th grade level.

So I welcome you here today and know that you're out there trying to make sure that you're doing your very best because academic excellence will be the name of the game in the future.

The third announcement, I just did want to apologize since the National Science Foundation is a creation of the Federal government, I cannot believe that Mr. Williams ever sent a letter like that to anybody.

And, of course, particularly at a time when we're discussing the role of the Federal government had to be the worst time that we could have a Federal entity, somehow or other, tell you that you're doing wrong and we may cut off your funds, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, because you're not thinking the way we're thinking.

Fortunately, his boss wrote a follow-up letter. We wrote a letter, of course, to the President showing our concern. But his boss then, Mr. Lane, wrote a follow-up letter indicating that he didn't say he could see how it could be misinterpreted. He said he can see how it would be interpreted the way it's been interpreted. And there isn't any other way you could interpret the letter. I imagine he's had his fingers slapped pretty well by this time.

So I apologize for our interference with what the State of California is trying to do.

Mrs. Larsen. Well, it was interesting. I first heard of the existence of the letter from the media a few days after it was made available on e-mail to I guess the world. It did not come to us the date of our deliberations. It may have come in the bulk of e-mail that arrived that day, but we had not seen it before we did deliberate.

It would not have made a difference, but it was interesting that it was given to lots of reporters before I ever received a hard copy of it.

Chairman Goodling. And we apologize.

Mrs. Larsen. Thank you.

Chairman Goodling. Mr. McKeon?

Mr. McKeon. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I'm happy we were able to have the students join us. And I appreciate you picking this location, a school, where we can have students join and this can be a part of their educational process. I think I was in my 50s before I met a congressman. Some say that's good.

[Laughter.]

Mr. McKeon. But it really is good to see the students be able to participate.

In the spirit of the bipartisanship with which we enter the education process, I'd like to read a quote from President Kennedy, "Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education.''

I think we're all working to the same end. We want to achieve progress in education. We have a difference perhaps in how we view trying to make that progress, and it has nothing to do with party. It just is kind of where we're coming from, each of us, as we approach the subject.

When I first ran for Congress in 1992, I had served for nine years on a school board. That's where we first met. I felt like maybe the role of the Department of Education, the Federal Department of Education, should be to set a national standard, where a high school diploma would mean the same in Florida or Massachusetts or California so that if somebody graduated from high school and moved from one State to another, they could show their diploma and you would know that they could do certain things.

I thought that made sense. I did not understand how Washington worked. I did not understand that once you give an inch, they take a mile and if you give them the authority to set a test, then they broaden that to where they will pronounce curriculum that will be established throughout the country. This letter from Mr. Williams is a kind of sick example of that.

And I know you commented on it, but let me just take a couple of excerpts from it. After criticizing what you had done, then he goes on to say that the National Science Foundation, which is one of the Federal bureaucracies, maintains a portfolio exceeding $50 million in awards to 6 public school systems in California. He goes on to say the schools.

Then he goes on to indicate that if you persist in doing what you would like to do as a State without their approval, then he threatens the withdrawal of those funds.

Mrs. Larsen. Correct.

Mr. McKeon. I cannot believe that. And the Chairman alluded to a letter that we wrote to the President in response to this letter. One paragraph says, "It is our view that the National Science Foundation should not try to override a State board decision. To use the hammer of possible withdrawal of Federal funds to force a State into compliance with unproven practices is unconscionable.''

And I think that we go on to this was a several-page letter, but we strongly disagree with him taking that position. And we strongly support states in setting their standards. And this is a classic example of why I changed my mind when I got to Washington, saw how they functioned.

What role, if any, do you believe that states should play in testing?

Mrs. Larsen. I think a State should have the opportunity to develop with publishers or whatever. The politics of education are quite substantial, as we know.

Our CLAS debacle that we had such a problem with came about because the first day I arrived in April of 1992, Bill Hoenig introduced me to a gentleman. And he said: This man is going to put California on the map. We are going to develop a test to be called CLAS. And it is going to lead the nation in testing assessments. This was the role California was going to have.

As we know, part of the problem from that developed because it was such a secretive process. As a State board of education member, I was not allowed to see the test. And it was being done by a bureaucracy that thought they knew the best. And they didn't want to share and have a lot of outside activity.

I think the State needs to take leadership and work with test publishers and allow some objectivity. And that is what we're doing with our STAR test.

Mr. McKeon. Thank you very much. Thank you for your work. Keep up the good fight.

Mrs. Larsen. Thank you.

Chairman Goodling. Congressman Scott?

Mr. Scott. Thank you.

Ms. Larsen, if you don't have a national test, how can you know that all of the states are making progress towards solving the problems in "A Nation at Risk''?

Mrs. Larsen. I don't think it takes the national test. I think "A Nation at Risk'' pointed out the various entities and the various constituencies that needed to be involved with public education.

There is a basic knowledge of education, basic threads of information. E. D. Hirsch, for instance, had a very good document in his book about cultural literacy. There is a core knowledge of basic skills that every State can put together, every school board can.

It does not take leverage from Washington, D.C. to draft something that they think is the basic knowledge that then in my estimation would end up being the rising tide of mediocrity because the test would be so easy so that people could pass it from Maine to California but because it would be a document that would be so neutralized.

Mr. Scott. The national test would be so easy?

Mrs. Larsen. I think that it would be watered down to assure a higher level of response to it and testing to it. I think states which are very, very unique, Midwestern states, do very well in many ways with their individual tests. And I think the State can help craft a test with publishers' input and all to draft something that is appropriate for their constituencies.

We are a diverse nation. We all need to have a strong basic level of information. But I don't think a test that is one-size fits all is an appropriate thing for the United States of America.

Mr. Scott. You mentioned a watered-down test. I know at least one State I think it's either South Carolina or North Carolina on a State test, 68 to 70 percent of the students were passing. On a nationally normed test, it was down to about 20 percent.

Why wouldn't the states be more likely to water down the tests so that their students would look good on a national basis?

Mrs. Larsen. Because I think that the parent empowerment that has taken place in this nation demands a lot more than we have been giving in public education the last few years. Never have people been so engaged. And I think that there are areas of the United States the involvement of the parents is going to help elevate what states come up with.

In California, we would not be allowed to do a simplified version. And I think what we would come up with as a State would exceed what the national government would want as a national test.

Mr. Scott. You indicated that there was a significant role for the Federal government. You mentioned IDEA in particular. What about in capital expenses, buildings, and things like that? Does the Federal government have a role?

Mrs. Larsen. No, I do not feel so.

Mr. Scott. Dealing with at-risk children?

Mrs. Larsen. They certainly have been involved with the at-risk children in the area of nutrition programs and compensatory education. And I think yes, that has been an appropriate way to proceed. And I think it has helped to make more areas of our population equal because of those other add-ons.

But I think the greatest role for the Department of Education on the national level should be as the bully pulpit. And I think they need to help emphasize that education you know, it's deja vu right now.

Kids are saying, "School is cool.'' Well, I think if we all got together and said, "Yes, school is cool,'' we need to let kids know that school, yes, is their work, but it also should be fun and they should be successful. But they also have to have the responsibilities to attain their education and to be successful.

Mr. Scott. Bilingual education. Does the Federal government have a role in that?

Mrs. Larsen. I do not feel that they do. Many of your states have very little challenges in bilingual education. In California, we have some enormous ones. And that is going to be a major topic of conversation at our February meeting. The first day is going to be an all-day workshop.

I think most people still are coming to the realization we need to make kids literate and fluent in English as quickly as we possibly can knowing that yes, it still is wonderful to preserve their primary language and to give support in that area.

But we do young people of California and people of this nation a disservice if we do not help them transition into English as quickly as possible because it is the opportunity for them to achieve in the workplace and be successful after their graduation.

Mr. Scott. I think when the Chairman was explaining to the audience what those lights were all about, people may have thought that he was talking to the next set of witnesses. Actually, he was talking to the members up here to remind us what those were for.

Mrs. Larsen. That's why I tried to cut my answers off when the light turned red.

Mr. Scott. So I think I will obey the light and yield back.

Chairman Goodling. Thank you very much, Bobby.

I do want to respond. Congressman Scott had indicated that maybe it isn't the time for us to move ahead with our markup when we get back in relationship to national testing. Basically all the legislation says is that you don't move ahead until the authorizing committee authorizes it.

I have it set up that way for three reasons. Number one, our schedule is so packed full trying to find the time to do it. Number two, I don't want to get in the position that we were in last year where the appropriators kept blaming our committee for their inability to move the health and human services appropriation bill because we had enacted. I don't want to have that excuse again.

But, thirdly, I don't think the message has gotten through, and that's the problem. When the President signed the health and human services appropriation bill last November, he said: For the first time, we will have workable and generally agreed-upon standards in math and reading. And that isn't correct.

As I told the President, we have standards in eight areas already and spent millions of dollars for that purpose. And the ninth, economics, was to be online in November. I don't know if that ever happened or not.

The next part is the one that bothered me, "Congress has voted to support the development of voluntary national tests to measure performance in fourth grade reading and eighth grade math. The test will be created by an independent bipartisan organization. There will be pilots in schools next October.'' This isn't what I voted on in any way, shape, or form.

So we've got to get the message through, somehow or another, that that is not what we voted on at all. And until we authorize and we have to authorize because, of course, NAEP comes up this particular year for reauthorization.

Again, the fear that I have is a fear that's been exacerbated by the letter of Mr. Williams because, again, our hope was by kicking it out of the department we were really worried about the department because we got 300 signatures from mathematicians all over the country saying that: Wait a minute. The way the department is going in math, they say there is only one way to teach math. That isn't correct. And we don't believe the way they're going is the correct way to go. So it's a pretty scary thing.

And so we kicked it to the National Science Foundation. And if he now has decided that there is only one way to go, then we have another problem. But we did want to get it certainly out of the department.

Let me just ask you one question. This is going to cost us $100 million if we move ahead one time. Now we've led the school districts into it because we're supporting it up to that point. After that point, we walk away. Now if you're going to do any of it, it's your expense. You find a way to pay for it because we won't be there.

If we had $100 million and we had to block grant and we said, "Okay. Here's $100 million,'' where would you put your emphasis in trying to improve education in the State of California?

Mrs. Larsen. Well, on the kids' behalf, I think we have taken a major step with our class size reduction in California trying to see that the K through 3 group is very literate, has positive reading skills.

They will then be much more successful for the balance of their schooling years. And we're hoping to alleviate a lot of the problems with juvenile crime and with remedial education by the class size reduction.

So I think the smaller class size, particularly starting out at the K-3, is one of the greatest things that we have done. I think lowering class size across the board would be wonderful. There are certainly limited resources for that.

But in the area of science classes, if we could make some of those smaller also because the lab equipment and all is not sufficient for the size of some of our lab classes, but I think the class size reduction, K-3, and other areas, as is necessary.

One thing I would like to comment on the test before you call this to a close is in the area of our pupil incentive testing, which was a voluntary program that we had in place for a couple of years and we allowed lots of tests to be put in place, and then in our STAR test that we are going to administer this spring for the first time and from which we will have comparable skills, we had some very competent test publishers who had wonderful materials from which we could select.

I would hesitate to see the Federal government craft another test. If there has to be a test on a national basis, I would refer to one that is on the drawing board and try and let all that creative work be done by test publishers that is their business and not to try and reinvent the wheel by having some group again come forward with a new test.

There are documents that are available, but I would plead with you on behalf of California's School Board members and the people that elect them on behalf of the National School Boards Association and the people that elect them to see that education in our nation does remain an instrument that has parent input, community involvement, and works to achieve what is right for communities knowing that, yes, there are basic skills that we all must have.

I think we will find our education system will become more productive, more successful, and more appropriate for America's youth when and if all the people that have come here today to lend their support to parent involvement are allowed to continue to have a say in what happens and to alleviate the intrusive and potentially overbearing arm of the United States government giving us mandates and regulations that are costly to respond to and are inappropriate in a democracy.

Chairman Goodling. Thank you.

Let me make one closing observation. Anybody who has met the Secretary, he's another Congressman Scott. He's just the nicest guy you'll ever find. And I have a tough time getting angry with him and upset with him.

However, I was invited to testify on the Senate side because he was invited. So I said: Well, if he's invited, I'll go. He made an observation. He said it is a tragedy that youngsters cannot do algebra by the time they get to eighth grade.

I think that's a tragedy, too. However, in his next statement, he said: But our tests will include algebra. And so the senator from, I think it was, Montana or Idaho I don't know where he was from said: Mr. Secretary, did I miss something?

He said: Why?

He said: Well, I thought you said that they don't have algebra by the time they get to eighth grade.

He said: That's right.

He said: But I also thought you said you were going to test them.

And then the Secretary realized he got trapped. So he laughed, as he usually does, and passed it on.

But I made the observation, then, that it is a tragedy in this day and age. However, you have to understand that every elementary teacher in the early grades is expected to teach all of the subjects, most of which have had very little mathematics and science, all of the mathematics and science in high school and none in college. What a frightening experience that would be unless they are prepared.

So I hope we can send you some money for teacher training. We're going to

Mrs. Larsen. That's critical, right.

Chairman Goodling. Hopefully he is going to really put emphasis on

Mrs. Larsen. Right.

Chairman Goodling. teacher training in this school and get after those institutions of higher learning who are supposed to be preparing teachers.

Mrs. Larsen. That is another topic on which we could spend the day.

Chairman Goodling. Yes. Congressman Scott had another question.

Mr. Scott. I had one other question on the STAR test. One of the complaints about tests generally is that they don't give you any information that you didn't already know and you don't use the test. After you have tested the students and have individualized results, how are those results used?

Mrs. Larsen. We are going to expect that this test will be given for five years and that we will start developing a base of information. There will be for each student an individual score. And that will be reported to the parents. Then we want to continue this test at least for the next five years.

Mr. Scott. If a student does poorly, what happens to that student?

Mrs. Larsen. We are hoping that there will be remedial work. We are going forward with summer school for students who are not doing well. That is part of the legislative debate this year. And we hope that the legislature will put in place monies for remedial education for the summer months for anyone who has failed to achieve what they should achieve in that year of learning. So there is expected to be some instant response.

That's why we wanted to have those grades back to the parents by the end of the school year.

Mr. Scott. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Goodling. Thank you. And, again, thank you very much for coming this morning.

Mrs. Larsen. It's my pleasure to be here.

Chairman Goodling. We appreciate it.

Mrs. Larsen. Thank you.

[Applause.]

Chairman Goodling. I would invite the next panel to come forward. We have with us Mr. Paul Clopton, cofounder of Mathematically Correct. Mr. Clopton is a cofounder and leader of Mathematically Correct, a San Diego-based parents' advocacy group for mathematics education.

Founded in 1995, Mathematically Correct quickly gained recognition and support from parents and mathematicians across the country. The group provides information and referrals to parents and educators in many districts and states and is dedicated to the promotion of rigorous mathematics education in public schools.

Mr. Clopton served in the 1997 Curriculum Frameworks and Criteria Committee for the State of California and on the San Diego Mathematics Grade-Level Standards Committee.

Mr. Clopton is a statistician with the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in San Diego and a cofounder of over 50 biomedical research publications.

His undergraduate education was in psychology at UCLA, and he attended graduate school in psychology at San Diego State University and at the Graduate School of Education at UCLA.

Ms. Roxanne Petteway is the mother of three, ages 8, 13, and 16. She has worked in the real estate industry for the past 13 years and was chosen as the Woman of the Year for 1997 from the 59th Assembly District.

We have another parent with us, and her name is Ms. Rebecca Bocchino; and Ms. Theresa Bustillos, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley in '75 and UCLA School of Law in '80, Ms. Bustillos specialized in labor and employment law, representing plaintiffs in the class action and individual challenges to employment policy and practices, which were in violation of Federal wage and hour laws and anti-discrimination laws.

She held increasingly responsible litigation positions with the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, MALDEF, and the offices of Sapperstein, Goldstein, Demshak, and Ballard. I apologize to all as I slaughter their names.

[Laughter.]

Chairman Goodling. After leaving the firm, I'm an old York County Dutchman, and we don't she expanded her expertise, litigating voting rights, education, and immigrants' rights cases at MALDEF.

And so we welcome all of you today. And we will begin with Mr. Clopton.

Mr. Clopton. Thank you very much. Thanks for the opportunity.

 

STATEMENT OF PAUL CLOPTON, MEMBER AND COFOUNDER, MATHEMATICALLY CORRECT

 

Mr. Clopton. I'd like to speak about the voluntary national test in mathematics.

As you mentioned, I come to you as a cofounder and a representative of Mathematically Correct. We're a parents' advocacy group for mathematics education. We were founded in 1995 by a group of frustrated parents, parents who were frustrated with the weaknesses of the math education programs that we saw in our public schools.

We soon found that we were not alone, and we gained support from parents and mathematicians all across the country. In fact, we may have become the most widely recognized of the parents groups voicing the concerns that parents have about math education. The notices of the American Mathematical Society referred to our group as the granddaddy of them all.

Whether you know it or not, there is not a consensus about mathematics curriculum in this country. There, in fact, is a great controversy about mathematics education.

Our group was quick to discover that many of the programs that we found so objectionable had been stimulated by a so-called reform movement in mathematics education.

The people that support this reform phrase it in glowing terms, but many parents and scientists and engineers and mathematicians see these new programs as nothing but dumbed-down math.

I know it's difficult for you to appreciate how serious this problem is just from the words of a few irate parents. So if you want an educational experience of your own, get a copy of "Glencoe Interactive Mathematics.'' This is an improved eighth grade reform-oriented math textbook in California.

I think if you look through it, you'll see that the level of mathematics here is not what we need for our eighth graders. You'll find the reference for this book in my written statement so that you can go to the Library of Congress and check it out and read it.

Now, what does this have to do with the national assessment? Back in April of 1996, our group called for wide-scale voluntary examinations in mathematics. We believe that if you lay out the criteria for each math course explicitly, give tests based on those criteria, and publish the results, you will end up stimulating improvement in math education.

So you might think that we would favor the national voluntary test plan. But, in fact, our group strongly opposes it. And we wrote letters both to the President and to the committee that designed this exam back in August of 1997 detailing some of our reasons. You'll find copies of those letters attached with my written statement.

Part of the reason that we are objecting to it is because we feel the test is designed to be favorable toward these reform programs that we see as not providing sufficient rigor and depth in mathematics.

Whether you realize it or not, it's possible to design tests that are biased in favor of these programs. There's an example of this also in my written statement. You can find that a test that's designed to favor them will fail to discover real differences in achievement that exist.

Our feeling was that the committee that designed the national voluntary test in mathematics was heavily laden with individuals supporting the reform program. And, therefore, the test design itself is biased.

Another concern we have is that the test plan calls for non-standard administration conditions. The use of calculators is not clearly defined. So that it may vary from one location to the next. Even the amount of time students are allowed on the test could vary from one location to the next. These are clear examples of psychometric errors. This is not good test policy.

Worse yet is the coverage at the low end and the high end of the achievement spectrum. Unlike the NAEP, which gives mean scores for entire states, this new test is designed to give scores for individual students. And the range of achievement of individuals is much greater than the range of achievement for entire states. So for a test to work, give individual scores, it has to give reliable and valid scores for the low end and the high end of the achievement spectrum.

The committee that designed the test didn't want to do this. They said: We don't want to test basic math. We think all eighth graders should already be able to do that. So we're not going to test it. And they left it out. We know obviously that all eighth graders cannot do their basic math.

At the high end of the spectrum, the committee didn't want to test algebra, even though the President said algebra for eighth graders is a goal for our country. And even though they have a sub-scale called algebra on this test, it's not an algebra test. It's not even a pre-algebra test. So the test plan fails at both the low end and the high end of the spectrum, effectively ignoring half the population.

The last problem we have with the test is that the committee realized that the public wouldn't go along with the complete support of their reform agenda. So their plan was to modify the test over time so that it would gradually mold this country closer and closer to their reform agenda. This again is bad psychometric policy because it gives us a moving target. The test would be changing from year to year.

As you may know, California leaped into the reform movement headfirst. And now we're near the bottom of the achievement ladder. But we don't plan to stay there. As Mrs. Larsen pointed out to you, we now have new, clear-cut standards. Maybe the reform supporters object to them, but we have them. And these are going to lead us to eighth grade algebra success in our State.

In San Diego, our goal is to have algebra as a graduation requirement from middle school. And their school board has set that to take place in the year 2001. I don't know if we're going to make it or not, but that's our objective. And if we have a test that doesn't even reach algebra for eighth graders, it's not going to be informative for our district.

On the idea of using alternative tests, we have to realize that the existing tests aren't designed, really, to promote eighth grade algebra either, but at least they will afford the states some choice in picking a test that best matches their own local needs. And, more importantly, a battery of tests to select from will prevent this pressure to adhere to the reform agenda in math education.

Therefore, although we like the idea of publishing test results to stimulate achievement, we have to come out strongly against the plan for the voluntary national test in mathematics.

Thank you.

SEE APPENDIX D WRITTEN STATEMENT OF PAUL CLOPTON, MEMBER AND COFOUNDER, MATHEMATICALLY CORRECT

[Applause.]

Chairman Goodling. Our next witness is the mother of three, ages 8, 13, and 16, happy years ahead. I've gone through that, thank God. I look forward to doing that with the grandchildren now, where I don't have to take any responsibility, but my children are way beyond that. So we will hear from Ms. Roxanne Petteway at this time.

Ms. Petteway. Thank you, Congressman. Thank you, all three of you, for taking the job to meet with us today. I truly appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. I know you're busy, and I appreciate the fact that this is important to you.

I have five minutes. Is that what I have?

Chairman Goodling. Well, we don't get too excited, as you noticed.

Ms. Petteway. Okay. Good.

Mr. Scott. It's just the members who have to stay to five minutes.

Ms. Petteway. Is that? Okay. Good.

Mr. Scott. The witnesses have a little bit more flexibility.

Ms. Petteway. Good, good.

 

STATEMENT OF ROXANNE PETTEWAY, PARENT

Ms. Petteway. Well, first of all, I wanted to talk about performance-based assessments because that is what we have seen throughout the nation over and over again. The CLAS test was a performance-based assessment.

Traditional education has been traditionally core knowledge-based. That's what we grew up with. We learned our multiplication tables. We learned how to read with phonics. It was core knowledge. We knew where the Equator was. We had geometry. We had geography, which is somewhat missing from our curriculum today.

In other words, the core knowledge included the three R's: reading, writing and arithmetic. And now the politically correct and the cool thing, like Yvonne Larsen said, is performance-based assessments, which replace the three R's with the three P's: portfolios, performance-based assessments, and project.

And because of that and there are only so many hours in a day, children are not getting the three R's. That's my biggest concern as a parent that my children are receiving core knowledge.

E. D. Hirsch was mentioned earlier by Mrs. Larsen, and I'd like to refer to a quote by E. D. Hirsch, Jr. For those of you who have not heard of him, he is professor at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. And you smiled. Is that your alma mater? Okay.

Anyway, this is what E. D. Hirsch has to say in his book, "The Schools We Need and Why We Don't Have them.'' He said, "Performance based assessments is just one of many high-sounding, anti-knowledge theories that has been offered for more than 60 years, the very prescriptions now to be facilitated by technology that have led to the total absence of a coherent, knowledge-based curriculum, but are presented today as remedies for the diseases they themselves have caused as far back as the teens, twenties and thirties of this century.''

Performance-based assessments are in my opinion next to the states' rights issue and centralized government control over testing and curriculum. The type of test is important, as alluded to by Mr. Clopton.

We have a report here today if you'd like a copy of it that was funded by the United States Department of Education. It was published by the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, which works with education professionals to support the restructuring, by the way, to promote learning for all students, especially those that you spoke about, Congressman Scott, at-risk children who are at risk of academic failure in rural and urban schools.

And this is what the report had to say. It said well, first of all, the title of the report is "What States Should Know: High-Stakes Assessments, Legal Implications.''

President Clinton has said that he would like a high-stakes, performance-based assessment. That is his preference. The report says that "Preliminary data from high-stakes applications indicate that the gap between historically disadvantaged groups and majority performance may be widening when performance assessments replace traditional tests.'' In other words, minority students will do poorly, more poorly than they're already doing, when given performance-based tests.

Another issue that I'd like to talk about right quickly is the CLAS test. When you look at the CLAS test, which was a debacle here in California, and you look at the Vermont test, which was a debacle, you look at the Kentucky test, all of those tests said that they were going to be the model for the national standards.

And all three models failed. But, yet, we have a national test coming our way issued by the same publishers, researchers, the companies that were given the $13 million award.

If you read my total testimony, you will see that most of these companies are pro or proponents of performance-based assessments.

Do I have to end? The light is red.

Chairman Goodling. If you can wrap it up within another minute.

Ms. Petteway. Okay. In closing, let me just say this. Talking about

Chairman Goodling. You will have an opportunity to say anything you want to say in answer to the questions.

Ms. Petteway. That's fine. Let me just close with national curriculum because we know that teachers are going to teach to the test, and we know that publishers are going to publish textbooks to the test.

You might have heard about this case in Florida. It was a Federal case, Debra P. v. Turlington. The ruling said that the only way to have a test that imposes real, meaningful national standards is to have a national curriculum. Is this where we are headed?

We talked about local control and parental involvement and parental responsibility. If, in fact, the government is going to produce a national test that will produce a national curriculum, which is a national body of knowledge that all students must know, I think it's a very dangerous thing in light of the "models'' that we have that were models for those national standards.

And I thank you.

SEE APPENDIX E WRITTEN STATEMENT OF ROXANNE PETTEWAY, PARENT

Chairman Goodling. Ms. Bocchino?

[Applause.]

 

STATEMENT OF REBECCA S. BOCCHINO, PARENT

 

Ms. Bocchino. Mr. Chairman, members of Congress, and distinguished guests, thank you for the opportunity to address you today on the subject of national testing. My name is Rebecca Bocchino, and I live in San Clemente with my husband and three children, all of whom attend public school.

As a former education and family policy analyst and as a citizen who has served on various advisory committees, both at the State and local levels, I would like to share with you today some of that experience.

The issue of national testing raises important questions that must be resolved to the satisfaction of the American people: local control, choice and accountability, and individual freedom.

What will a national assessment measure? Parents fear, with good reason, that such tests will not, in fact, measure true academic knowledge but, rather, the personal qualities, attitudes, beliefs, and values desired by special interests.

In 1969, Virginia used ESEA Title III monies to develop and administer a longitudinal study of the values and beliefs of its students through the Virginia Educational Needs Assessment study. Virginia proposed that it was critical that the attitudes and beliefs of children and teachers be changed from those taught by the family to conform to those taught by the school system before academic instruction could occur. This was in the actual document, their words, not mine. This view is also shared by the proponents of national testing.

Selling the concepts of national tests has become big business for a myriad of organizations sharing a common agenda for social change. Despite the perception that these various entities represent broad-based public support for the proposed agenda, closer inspection reveals that most of these organizations are directed by the same small cadre of individuals:

Another tactic which undermines local control is the use of new and creative Federal funding strategies as seed money. Such funds provide incentives to leverage resources and establish the infrastructure for a seamless system of delivery from which no State or locality will be able to devolve or change once fully implemented.

Because this agenda does not enjoy broad-based support, a new system of governance is being developed and implemented through Federal legislation and funding. We are witnessing an unprecedented and alarming trend in these new Federal funding schemes.

The bypassing of State legislatures and local governments and the centralization of control and decision-making in the hands of one or two elected officials, governors or independent and unaccountable public or private partnerships. Typically these entities operate in a pseudo para-government fashion within a national forum, where special interest agendas are more easily facilitated despite local public resistance.

Choice and accountability of educational alternatives are extremely important, particularly to parents. The key is in defining choice and accountability.

A fundamental principle that has been demonstrated consistently within our free-market economy is that true choice and free agency automatically assure accountability. When real agency is replaced with involuntary control and domination, artificial accountability measures are then required to manage the outcomes. national tests will only serve as an artificial remedy, presenting the illusion of choice and accountability.

As schools and teachers are threatened with non-accreditation or other punitive sanctions over national test scores, more and more will simply seek to teach to the test. The only accountability provided by national tests will be to ensure that states and localities eventually adopt the desired outcomes within a national curriculum framework.

Finally, there is one very important, over-arching principle that is even more important to me and fundamental I believe to any success in education. As a society as well as individuals, we have always been and must remain free to pursue and achieve our fullest potential and ambitions according to our individual dreams and the dictates of our individual consciences.

Yet, Americans are now finding that the individual is no longer the sole decision-maker and proprietor of his future. Instead, we are being thrust involuntarily into a partnership with others who feel they have the right to profit from our education. Big government and corporate America are now equal partners in what some view as a hostile takeover of the education of our youth.

Language contained in Federal labor and education-related legislation casts children as entitlements to big business in the form of venture capital in human resource-based, get-rich-quick schemes for a new form of corporate welfare.

Lost in all the educational investment rhetoric is the most fundamental concept of all in a free society: that we are free as individuals to choose our own destinies; pursue the American dream, whatever that means for each of us; and be free to pursue and achieve our fullest potential, not as human resources, but as human beings. It is the proven American experiment that in a free society, man will create his own opportunities for growth and rise to his highest levels of achievement.

I strongly urge this Committee to reject national tests and return true local choice, control and accountability, and freedom to the people you serve. I thank you for the opportunity to address you today.

SEE APPENDIX F WRITTEN STATEMENT OF REBECCA S. BOCCHINO, PARENT

[Applause.]

Chairman Goodling. Thank you.

Too much of that applause will make the three of us sick. We never get that much applause.

[Laughter.]

Chairman Goodling. Our third member of the panel is Ms. Theresa Bustillos. You've had a very active career in your young years already I noticed. And we're happy to have you with us this morning to testify.

Ms. Bustillos. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, members of Congress, for having me here today.

 

 

STATEMENT OF THERESA BUSTILLOS, VICE PRESIDENT OF LEGAL PROGRAMS, MEXICAN AMERICAN LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND

 

Ms. Bustillos. I want to apologize for having such a long bio. I'm really not that young. But one thing that was missing from my bio is that I am a mom and I do have a third grader in public schools. So I speak not just as a lawyer and as an education lawyer but also as a mom.

I want to thank you for providing me to come here today and to express my concerns on behalf of Latinos in this country to the proposed national tests. I'm going to focus my concerns primarily on the fourth grade reading test, although we also have concerns just about the national test in eighth grade as well.

I want to start by saying that we agree with the administration that we need high standards for our children. And it's because we agree with that statement that we need high standards for all children, focusing on the word "all,'' that we voice these concerns about the national test.

Our primary concern is about the exclusion of limited English-proficient students from the primary test, but a second concern that I'm not really going to address in my testimony so I just want to touch upon it briefly is also about high-stakes consequences of the national test and about the effect of those high-stakes consequences on at-risk children.

We know that because this national test is not based on national curriculum or on State standards or national standards that it should not have high-stakes consequences for principals, for teachers, for states, for school administrators, but how is that going to stop the child who gets the low test result from feeling ashamed? How is that going to stop their parent from feeling ashamed about low test results? Nothing is going to inhibit that feeling of shame by that child. And that is something without adequate protections, this national test will produce.

But I want to go back to my main point, and that is about the exclusion of limited English-proficient students from the national test. We know that in this country three are over three million limited English-proficient children. These children under the national test as proposed can be excluded if the teacher feels that they're not fully prepared to take the national test. They can also be excluded if they have not had three or more years of English language instruction.

The opposite is true for the math test. The math test will be offered in Spanish and English. Yet, we also know that the majority of limited English-proficient children are in the primary grades, not in the eighth grade.

We're told that this is justified because the reading test is not really a reading test. It's really a reading test in English. But that begs the question: If you're an English speaker who only speaks English, what is the difference for you of a national test in reading or a national test in reading and English?

For you, there is no difference. There is only a difference for a limited English-proficient who is not fully English-proficient. For them, a reading test in English has special significance because that means to them it's going to test their level of English fluency. And a reading test is going to test their level of comprehension.

But for the native English speaker who only speaks English, it is simply going to test their reading comprehension. And that is one of our big concerns with this national test. What is the true purpose of this fourth grade reading test?

Now, we know that one of the goals of the test is to produce scores at the student level, at the district level, at the school level, at the State level so that through the dissemination of this information, parents can be activated to demand change in their schools if they think that's needed or at the school level or at the district level that parents can be activated, teachers can be activated, the community can be activated to demand change, to demand accountability of their schools. But if limited English-proficient are excluded, how is that group going to demand accountability at their school, at their districts, at the State level?

No group deserves to have accountability more than limited-English proficient children do. There is a dearth of information. There is a dearth of data at the State level and at the district level and nationally about limited English-proficient children, how well they're doing, how well they're performing. So if data is a catalyst for change, no group needs that more than limited English-proficient children.

In 1994, the Evaluation Assistance Center East at The George Washington University surveyed all 50 State assessment directors to document the assessment policies and practices and develop policy recommendations for English language learners.

And you know what they discovered? They discovered that there is no common operational definition used by states to even identify English language learners, only about 80 percent of the states have an assessment policy even pertaining to these students, most states allow exemptions for English language learners and only 33 percent report the actual number of these students assessed in their State; and only 4 states report disaggregated scores of English language learners while 24 states report they can do it. They just don't bother to. So if there is any group that needs the dissemination of data about them, it is English language learners.

When NAEP started improving their inclusion of limited English-proficient students in the math test at both the fourth grade level and the eighth grade level by including accommodations, which were one-on-one testing, extended time, and bilingual tests, the participation of LEP students went from 50 percent to 70 percent. We cannot ignore such startling progress. LEP students need to be included. If there's going to be a national test, they must be included.

I know my time is up. I want to just end by saying that I urge you to adopt guidelines that can adequately incorporate LEP students and ensure other guidelines that are adequately going to protect and ensure a proper use of any national test that is implemented.

Thank you.

SEE APPENDIX G WRITTEN STATEMENT OF THERESA BUSTILLOS, VICE PRESIDENT OF LEGAL PROGRAMS, MEXICAN AMERICAN LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND

 

[Applause.]

Chairman Goodling. I want to thank all of you for your testimony and begin with Congressman Scott.

Mr. Scott. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I think the Chairman indicated that if you had things that you didn't have time to say, just kind of make a note of it and you can include that in the response to whatever question is given. You don't have to answer the question. You can have your answers, and we'll just

Chairman Goodling. It's what we do at town meetings all the time.

Mr. Scott. sort of prompt you with a question. And you can give whatever answer you have written down.

I guess I had one question with the "Nation at Risk'' document having been reminded of that. Is some sort of national standard, minimum national standard, of what we expect of our students a good idea or a bad idea?

Ms. Petteway. I'll be more than happy to answer that. I really believe it's a bad idea because for all intents and purposes, what is called "at risk,'' I would have been designated at risk. I lived in the inner city with a single mom. I grew up with my grandmother. So no, I totally disagree.

To give you an example, I was given I go back to what I said earlier core knowledge. At-risk students may have a lot of other problems with their families and everything else, drugs, but if they're given the tools to succeed, they will most definitely. They're not being given the tools.

Mr. Scott. Now, is there a minimum amount, minimum core knowledge that you would consider the appropriate tools that all students in America ought to at least achieve?

Ms. Petteway. Well, yes, as a matter of fact, but I wouldn't want the Federal government to mandate that because then it goes into the various groups, like the new standards project and those who are actually contract teams to develop these standards. They don't have the best interests of those students at heart anyway.

Right here in L.A., I'd love to take you for a tour at Marcus Garvey School, where it's an all-black school and little children. I was just there two weeks ago.

And three-year-olds are writing their name on the board and can name every black or African American, like Dr. Martin Luther King, that was significant and famous, that the second graders are doing long division with about eight numbers, the fourth graders are doing algebra. And I saw the fifth graders to the ninth graders were entering calculus.

These kids are awesome. And they're in South Central L.A. with bars all around the school. But they're not accredited. And they're a private school, and they teach the basics.

Ms. Bocchino. I would just like to follow up to my good friend Roxanne's comments. I frequently say I'm a friend of Roxanne.

In my talk, I alluded to choice and accountability. What she's describing as a private school, those children, however they came about, had had a choice to go there.

I really believe that when you provide, not when the government provides, but when there are adequate choices and alternatives for parents and families, they will choose what is best for them. And they will drive the accountability.

Schools who are forced to compete and treat families and students as consumers, rather than as commodities, will develop the core knowledge that those parents and students demand. I truly believe this. I think this is a true principle.

Accountability is a natural law that follows from true choice and agency. And I think the best thing the Federal government could do is get out of the way and at the same time encourage true choice and true educational alternatives without mandating them.

[Applause.]

Chairman Goodling. Any others?

Mr. Clopton. I'd like to respond briefly. Yes. Thank you. Our group is actually in favor of standards on a per-course basis because we believe that what has to be learned in an individual math class has gotten lost and been replaced by projects and that sort of thing.

Whether or not the Federal government has any business in that is another question. And, therefore, I'm glad you asked about Mr. Williams in your question or Dr. Luther Williams in his statement. I'm glad to hear the members of the Committee take action in regards to that. We found that quite offensive and not in the best interest of California.

Thank you.

Mr. Scott. Yes. Ms. Bustillos

Chairman Goodling. I think she wanted to

Mr. Scott. Well, let me ask a question. Then you can give whatever answer you want. How do you remove bias from the tests? So you can include that in whatever answer you want to give.

Ms. Bustillos. I'll start with your prior question and move into bias. I don't know whether we need national standards per se. I do think we need a national measurement.

I do think that we do need to understand at the school level whether or not schools are really educating children. I think parents need to be armed with that information about how well their school is really performing.

I work with a lot of parents who are not college-educated and don't easily have access to that information. They want to know. They ask me: How can I find out how well my school is really doing? My student, my child is doing well, but I want to know how good of an education my child is really getting.

So I do think that parents need to know, what to know how well their school is performing and how well their State is performing. NAEP only provides information at the State level. It does not get down to the school level, where parents can really get activated to demand accountability at their school if they have a failing school.

So yes, there needs to be some national measurement. There needs to be some basis to spur change where it is not happening.

How do you account for bias? I think that that gets to the issues of psychometrics and test validity. You can also try and ensure that there's no bias in the administration of the exam by having protections built in. And that's why I have grave concerns about the national test as formulated because it's going to be giving these children's scores at the individual level as well as their parents.

I'm not sure that all of these parents are going to understand that that score has as much to do about the quality of education they're receiving at that school as about the level of interest their child is showing in their own personal education.

And there need to be adequate protections to make sure that parents and children understand that when you talk about accountability, accountability is a compact. It's a two-way street. Children and parents have to do their share, but the school has to meet them more than halfway.

Chairman Goodling. Mr. McKeon?

Mr. McKeon. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I was thinking with the standard that Mr. Scott has set that we ask any question, give any answer that we just apply that to national testing standards. It really wouldn't matter what we're talking about because the tests wouldn't matter.

The students could give any question they wanted and any answer to any question. I guess the problem would go away and we could all go back to whatever else we'd like to do.

It's interesting to me first of all, Ms. Petteway, before I forget, what was the name of that school? Garvey?

Ms. Petteway. Marcus Garvey. It's on Slauson Avenue. They do give tours. Give them a call, and they'll take you around. As a matter of fact, let me say this. Senator Connie Mack, not only did he visit the school. He's produced a videotape about the school he was so impressed.

And I have to say that the school is in the neighborhood. So if the parents were affluent, they would be sending their kids to a school in Beverly Hills. These parents are paying a lot of money to send their children there. The tuition goes up by grade. What happens is by the time the child gets around the fourth year there, the parents are out of money. And they may have to pull their child out.

Well, what happens is this child now is doing geometry and algebra. And he has to go to Crenshaw High, which the standard there is, unfortunately, like many inner-city public schools. And it's drug-infested. I have actually a nephew that attends there. So what happens is then they're stagnated.

I agree with Rebecca Bocchino here that, really, those kids need choice. And that's why I was really disappointed that the D.C. bill did not get passed for scholarships for inner city kids because they really need choice. These kids when the parents pull them out, they have nowhere else to go. And so I encourage

 

Mr. McKeon. This is a private school? It's not a charter school?

Ms. Petteway. It's not a charter school. It's a private school.

Mr. McKeon. So it has tuition.

Ms. Petteway. And it has tuition and

Mr. McKeon. Why don't they petition to set it up as a charter school?

Ms. Petteway. I don't think that the founder, Dr. A. Palmer, who was a professor and a public school teacher for many years before he started this school this school has been around for 20 years, 27 years or so.

Anyways, I don't think you would want to do that for the simple fact that he's been free to teach these children to the highest standard. These kids can compete with any kids in the United States of America and be

Mr. McKeon. Charter school could do that. You set your own standards when you set up a charter school.

Ms. Petteway. I think that

Mr. McKeon. Anyway, we can talk about.

Ms. Petteway. there's a fear there. There's a fear that the waiving of the ed code and the superintendent of public instruction would, who has tried in the past, come in and try to take some controls there. And that would water down his curriculum.

Mr. McKeon. Okay. I'll talk to you more about that because I would like to go down. I haven't had a chance to talk to the Chairman about this yet, but Senator Jeffords was out there last week. And he's the corresponding chairman in the Senate as Mr. Goodling is in the House.

Chairman Goodling. Some different views but corresponding.

Mr. McKeon. He's from Vermont, which explains some of that. The size of Vermont equals about the size of Washington, D.C. and about the size of Long Beach unified school district.

So Long Beach has done some good things down there. He wanted to come down to see what they had done and take some of the ideas back to see if they can be implemented and help in Washington, D.C. because we do as representatives.

Washington, D.C. being a district, we have certain responsibilities. I know Chairman Goodling has really tried to make some change there and bring some help there. And that's what Senator Jeffords was looking at. So we'll have some things to talk about on that.

We do try to get around to visit schools. Every time I'm home, I try to get in to visit schools because I see a lot of good things happening in schools.

All of this talk really doesn't change anything if you don't have a good teacher in the classroom. It all comes down to the teacher in the classroom. If the teacher is dedicated, devoted, and not mandated that they have to do certain things, then they will do a job of teaching our young people.

I would just like to ask one question. What do you see is perhaps the purpose? It sounds to me like there is some feeling that there is maybe some sinister motive to this national test, national curriculum. What do you see as the true purpose of those who are trying to impose this test?

Ms. Bocchino. Get out of my way.

[Laughter.]

Mr. McKeon. I thought you might have something to say.

Ms. Bocchino. Speaking for the NRA no. I'm just kidding.

I know from studying this and from researching this that not everyone who has proposed national tests has a sinister motive. But a national test has become a vehicle for those who do have an agenda. And there is a prevalent ideology that's made its way up through the ranks of those who are involved in education in a decision-making capacity well beyond that of a parent.

They share this common ideology and that combined with how Federal funds have been used. And even the U.S. Justice Department has said that Federal funds can be used in ways to skirt the Tenth Amendment. Federal funds have been viewed as a tactic to implement an agenda.

That coupled with the restructuring of local governance that has more and more removed it from the hands of the public and parents and teachers and put it in the hands of unaccountable entities has all combined to make it very difficult, if not impossible, for a parent at the local level to have any meaningful input or any voice in what's happening.

So when we see a vehicle such as a national test being proposed, we know better than anybody what that means for us and our child at the school. We will have no voice in it because the infrastructure is virtually there now that guarantees that if we're brought in at all, we're brought in a nominal capacity for appearances only. But even our county Department of Education has said they don't even have the ability to decide to choose whether or not to implement a particular Federal program.

An Orange County coalition did that. And if the county Department of Education has cited they don't want to administer the funds or be the fiscal agent, which is pretty much what their role has been reduced to now, that coalition can apply to be the fiscal agent.

So even our county Department of Education has been marginalized and virtually eliminated. That's what I think we fear. It's not the conspiracy or sinisterism. It's what we've seen happen from governance being restructured, Federal funds being used to circumvent local control, and decision-making being taken out of the hands of parents.

[Applause.]

Ms. Petteway. In my testimony, I quote President Clinton. He was in Chicago last year, last January actually, at Glenbrook North High School. And this is what he had to say. So when you ask the question "What is the purpose?'' I do agree with Rebecca that it's total control. This is what the President said, "We can no longer hide behind our love of local control of schools and use it as an excuse not to set high standards.''

And, as we talked about earlier today, the question becomes high standards. What high standards? That becomes a vague term. But I think that shows the disdain that he has for local control, and it really grieves me.

Mr. Clopton. I personally believe that President Clinton has some interest in seeing improvements in education in our country. But I think he has fallen on a bad set of advisers and he has effectively bought into this reform agenda that we are all kind of alluding to, and perhaps me more directly than the others.

I'm really worried about this. The committee that formed the test plan in mathematics was heavily laden in the people that support this reform. But now the test has been moved to the National Assessment Governing Board that produces the NAEP test.

Unfortunately, the two mathematics consultants to that board are authors on this textbook that's come to be known as rain forest algebra. And it's a reform textbook.

In fact, the lead consultant is the chairman of the prior committee. So this test has been handed from one group to another. And the same guy is still in charge.

That's all. Thank you.

Mr. McKeon. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Goodling. That last statement bothers me. Well, I flew the whole way up here to get one question answered, and you didn't answer it. Of course, the question was the question I had at the beginning, how one more test, somehow or other, will improve the education of children and how one more test will help children whom we've already told 1,000 times and their parents that they're not doing very well. That's my problem with this whole idea that the members of the Committee have heard me say many times.

If you put the cart before the horse, how do you tell the children of Pittsburgh one more time that they're doing poorly in relationship to the children of Upper Saint Claire? Now, you have to know the difference.

In Upper Saint Claire, every parent has a Bachelor's degree. Most parents have a Master's degree. And quite a few have Ph.D.'s. Now, what do I do: take the parents of Upper Saint Claire and move them into center city Pittsburgh or what do you do? Are you going to tell the youngsters in center city Pittsburgh one more time that they're doing poorly?

We haven't done anything but spend $100 million to tell them that. We haven't done anything to help them do better. And this is what I don't understand. It just blows my mind.

[Applause.]

Chairman Goodling. But you notice the President is talking about quality. So I'm glad that message is getting through. They've heard me say many times as a school superintendent, which I was at one time, and we had nine school board members, my major job was to make sure that five of nine members understood that whatever I wanted to do was their idea so they never could turn me down. So I don't care who gets credit for the idea that we want to talk about quality.

You see, I was the voice in the wilderness that said we were spending billions of dollars early on in Head Start and not giving children a head start. Now, why did that happen? Well, it happened for many reasons, but the number one reason was that our whole concern was to see how many children we could cover.

Our concern was not to see what we were I don't want to put "with'' at the end of the sentence with which we were covering them. And so no one talked about quality.

So we were trying to hire early childhood people at $10,000. There are not very many good early childhood people out there to start with. And there aren't any out there unless they're going to be a volunteer at $10,000. So we made this mistake year after year after year. We finally got around to the business of talking about quality.

We did the same in Chapter One. I mean, all well-intended programs but Chapter One people I had no leadership whatsoever to tell me what it is that I'm to do with these Federal dollars that were coming to me. But there were a lot of things they told me I couldn't do.

And finally we put all of that money into trying to help children that were three and four-year-olds and parents of those children to help their child become reading-ready so that they weren't failures when they got to first grade.

We knew. We knew who was going to fail from past experiences. And so, of course, we have gone through a series, then, of either social promotions in first grade, which is devastating or failures.

And the child didn't fail at the end of first grade. The adults failed the child. So both ways we're not helping the child. So that's why I keep saying over and over again if I have $100 million to spend, it seems to me there are a lot of things I could do to help children be reading-ready.

One last example that I'll give you, and they've heard it before the Secretary told me that the President went to Ireland and he saw this magnificent program. He really thought it was something worthwhile in duplicating.

He said on this side of the room they had preschool children working on reading readiness issues, and on this side they had the parents. And they were learning parenting skills. They were improving their literacy skills and so on. And then they would bring them together so the parent could help the child and become the child's first and most important teacher.

I said: Mr. Secretary, they stole that from us. It's one thing that the President doesn't know that, but as the Secretary of Education. That's called EVEN START.

Now, they thought I liked to toot my horn because EVEN START worked. Why did it work? Well, first of all, because we didn't try to cover more than we could possibly cover unless we were covering with excellence. And so we were putting much more money into the business of making sure the right people were there who knew what to do and how to deal with early childhood children.

And it worked because we had the parents dramatically involved. I don't know how many of those programs you may have. I'm sure Los Angeles should have some. But that's the difference.

At any rate, I thank you very much for your testimony. You didn't answer my question. You just reinforced what I thought before I came, I suppose.

But it is extremely important that we don't dumb down what people are doing at the local level and at the State level. Forty-some states have already dramatically increased their standards, have dramatically increased their assessment tools in order to determine whether they are or are not making those standards.

And I certainly see the problem that Ms. Bustillos can see because one of the problems that we are faced with in this country is immigrants, immigrant children who can speak their own language but have not had a background in that language at all know that they can speak it, have a difficult time writing it. They have no concept of verbs and nouns and pronouns and all of those kinds of things, which makes it so much more difficult than if you take someone with a foreign language who has had a real education in that language before they attempted to do another. So it makes it that much more difficult for the teacher to bring about this transition.

So, again, I thank you very much. And I certainly thank the school district and the school for opening your doors to us and allowing us to come in. And I want to thank Bobby for coming from Virginia.

And all of you pray for me that there are two open seats on either side of me as I take that red eye. You know, I've won one time for the Congress of the United States. If I had to come back and forth every weekend, that's devastating. Of course, I was ready to get up at 3:00 o'clock this morning. I'm going to be ready to go to bed at 3:00 o'clock this afternoon.

Well, at any rate, thank you very much for your testimony. It was very, very important, and I appreciate it and thank all of you who attended.

[Applause.]

[Whereupon, at 10:57 a.m., the committee was adjourned.]