Serial No. 106-44


Printed for the use of the Committee on Education

and the Workforce

Table of Contents
















Thursday, May 27, 1999

House of Representatives

Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

Committee on Education and the Workforce

Washington, DC

The Subcommittee met pursuant to call at 9:30 a.m. in Room 2175 Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Pete Hoekstra, Chairman of the Subcommittee, presiding.


Present: Representatives Hoekstra, Schaffer, Tancredo, Fletcher, Castle, Goodling, Roemer, Scott, Kind and Ford.


Staff Present: Robert Borden, Professional Staff Member; Becky Campoverde, Communications Director; Victor Klatt, Education Policy Coordinator; Patrick Lyden, Legislative Assistant; Michael Reynard, Media Assistant; Deborah Samantar, Office Manager; Rich Strombres, Professional Staff Member; Kent Talbert, Professional Staff Member; Christie Wolfe, Professional Staff Member; Cheryl Johnson, Minority Legislative Associate; Gail Weiss, Minority Staff Director; Mark Zuckerman, Minority General Counsel; Alex Nock, Minority Legislative Associate; Cedric Hendricks, Minority Deputy Counsel; and Roxana Folescu,Minority Staff Assistant, Education.




Chairman Hoekstra. The Subcommittee will come to order.


Pursuant to normal Subcommittee operations, opening statements will be limited to the Chairman and the Ranking Member. All other statements will be submitted for the record without objection.


We are doing pretty well. The last hearing started early. This one started about three minutes late. So, on average, that is about two in a row. Let me give you my opening statement.






We are here today to address the potential politicization of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and the trustworthiness of the scores that the states received during the last reading assessment.


As the nation's report card, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, is an ongoing, congressionally authorized program that collects data through surveys of the educational performance of students in America's elementary and secondary schools. The national assessment is carried out by the Commissioner of Education Statistics under the policy guidance of the National Assessment Governing Board, or NAGB. The Board was created in 1988 upon the recommendation of the Alexander James Commission, which urged that policy making for the national assessment be buffered from manipulation by any individual, level of government or special interest within the field of Education.


In 1990 NAGB adopted its policy statement reporting and disseminating national assessment results. This policy statement was and in my opinion still is, straightforward and unambiguous. Specifically, it states that "Reporting and dissemination of national assessment results shall be insulated from partisan political considerations and processes." In addition, "The public reporting and release procedures for NAEP shall be apolitical, similar to those of other congressionally mandated data gathering programs. This policy is necessary to ensure that the results and indeed the entire testing process is based on independent judgments that are free from inappropriate influences and special interests.


On November 6, 1998 the National Center for Education Statistics submitted its release plan for the 1998 NAEP reading test. The release plan stated that the press conference would take place in early February, 1999 and would begin with introductions and data presented by Commissioner Forgione, followed by comments from Secretary Riley and a member of NAGB. This release plan was consistent with board policy that stipulates that "Reports of NAEP results shall be issued by the Commissioner of Education Statistics." It was approved unanimously by NAGB on November 21, 1998.


On February 10, 1999 Vice President Gore was the featured speaker for the release of the 1998 NAEP reading results, the first time any official higher than the Secretary of Education had ever participated in a NAEP release. The Vice President commented on several administration initiatives during the release including increased funding for Even Start and Head Start, connecting every classroom to the Internet, funds for schools construction bonds, 100,000 new teachers, and even AmeriCorps.


The point is not whether I am for or against the programs the Vice President was talking about. It is whether or not his speech was "insulated from partisan political considerations," as the NAGB policy stipulates it must be. In addition, it seems as if the Vice President was not telling the whole story about the test scores. He noted that, "for the very first time, reading scores have improved for each of the three grades measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and this is great progress, and we are proud to report it." What the Vice President did not mention was that the fourth grade achievement level showed no statistically significant changes. Fourth grade scale scores were constant, and analysis from 1992 to 1998 in the 12th grade shows no net gain over the period.


During the press conference, the Vice President made quotes about a down payment on hiring 100,000 new teachers to reduce class size. He noted the administration had worked very hard to help states and communities marshal the efforts of thousands of young people through the AmeriCorp program. He even encouraged Congress to enact the President's agenda to improve education.


The Vice President's participation was not an apolitical release of educational data, but rather it seems it was an orchestrated media event to promote a political agenda. E-mails from the Office of the Vice President described the event as "a VP education event" that was "good for the VP, for the Department and for education."


The Secretary's office made suggestions about the program's dimension stating, for example "it is a reading day, why not push for reading dollars?" with regard to the Reading Excellence Act. According to Mr. Musick, a witness before the Subcommittee today, "The format, tone and substance of that event was not consistent with the principle of an independent, nonpartisan release of national assessment data."


Indeed, Education Week reported last March that Vice President Gore jeopardized the integrity of the test when he announced the 1998 reading results to a campaign-style rally. The Vice President's appearance as the featured speaker before the Commissioner differed considerably from the NCES release plan that was adopted by NAGB.





Chairman Goodling expressed his disappointment because of the politicization of the announcement in a letter sent to Secretary Riley on March 17, 1999. In his response, the Secretary claimed that Chairman Goodling's "concerns about the release of this data are unwarranted."


With all due respect to the Secretary, I must disagree with that assessment. I share Chairman Goodling's concerns and felt that the events surrounding the release warranted further review by the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. The Committee has received materials from NAGB and NCES that reveal a blatant disregard for the policy statement on reporting and dissemination of national assessment results. According to information submitted to the Committee, Commissioner Forgione participated in a conference call on February 8 with representatives from the Office of the Vice President, the Office of the Secretary of Education and the Department's Office of Public Affairs. It is our understanding that at that meeting Commissioner Forgione supported an agenda in which he would open the press conference and then release the results at 10 a.m., followed by the Chairman of NAGB. Finally, the Vice President, the Secretary of Education and a teacher would be given an opportunity to comment on the results.


Subsequent to that meeting on February 8 and before the public release of the results on February 10, the Department informed NCES that the agenda had been changed. There was to be a shift in the order of the presenters and a delay until 11 a.m., at which time the Secretary and Vice President would open the press conference. At a minimum, the approved NCES release plan was disregarded. Subsequent to the press conference on February 10, NAGB had adopted the new language for their policy on the dissemination of results in an effort to clarify the necessity for the credible release of national assessment data.


As I mentioned before, I believe that the original policy adopted by NAGB in 1990 was explicit and unequivocal. When it comes to making important decisions about the NAEP test itself, NAGB should be completely isolated from politics. When it comes to measuring the progress of our nation's children, we need to ensure that scores are as accurate as possible and we must not let politics influence our ability to measure student achievement.


In addition to questions about the release of the scores, I have questions about how well the new NAEP inclusion policies are working. Why did the exclusion of students with disabilities and limited English proficiency increase since the 1994 test? Was NAGB acting independently and in the interests of getting valid test data when it decided to adopt a new inclusion policy for the 1998 reading test? Was NAGB pressured into making decisions that have brought us to where we are today, questioning the way in which the results were released and the possibility that the scores themselves might have been clouded by politics?


These are questions that must be answered to understand what we need to do to protect the NAEP tests from political manipulation. Specifically, we should review the process in which the Vice President became the featured speaker, discuss whether or not the Vice President's comments were thorough and consistent with board policy, and revisit the issue of whether or not it is possible for NCES and NAGB to remain independent as currently configured.


I would like to thank our witnesses for appearing before the Subcommittee this morning.





Chairman Hoekstra. With that, I would yield to Mr. Roemer for any statement he may have.


Mr. Roemer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I ask unanimous consent to revise and extend.


Chairman Hoekstra. Without objection, so ordered.








Mr. Roemer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Mr. Chairman, I couldn't agree more with you from what you have said at one point in your statement that politics should not influence this process. We should not have politics influence the process, whether it be a President or a Vice President. We want to know how our kids are doing on these scores and why they are not doing better.


I am a little disappointed, quite frankly, that today's focus of the Hearing is on how this thing was released rather than what we can do to help our children in this country do better only their scores. That is the purpose of this Committee, that is the purpose of the education oversight, and I think that is what the American people want us to do in this Committee.


I was talking to a constituent last night who is a farmer, and her farm_her family's farm is going out of business after 100 years in the hog farming business. She said, you know, you guys got a lot on your plate today. You guys in Congress have a war going on, you have got depressionary prices for our farmers, and you have got school shootings. You have got a lot of important things to deal with.


I think we should be dealing with school safety. I think we should be dealing with how to improve in revolutionary and bold ways how our schools do better to help our children, and not politicize this process.


I think that if we are not careful, GOP is going to stand for Gore: Obsessive Paranoia if we are not careful here.


Now, let's get to the facts on all this. The Vice President may have made a social faux pas. Maybe he should have let Mr. Forgione speak first. But this information was released an hour before on the web. This information was out there for the general public. This is important information for the country to understand.


And I am told from my staff, who does great research and always hits the mark, that back in June of 1992, there was a letter from the Commissioner, I guess, Mr. Musick, your predecessor, Mr. Boyd, who wrote the following, "in accord with that policy," he is referencing something that happened, "the Board approved a plan for the release of the 1990 NAEP reading report at a press conference in Washington. I was surprised and disturbed therefore to learn that on the day before the scheduled press conference of the main results in the report were released prematurely by President Bush." By President Bush.


Now, we can have a Hearing on how President Bush released these prematurely and speak about that. Quite frankly, I am not interested in that. I am not interested in President Bush talking about these NAEP scores at a private fund-raiser or school the day before.


I think with Vice President Gore being part of the conference, maybe he should have said, Mr. Forgione, you go first. According to the statute, technically, you should be the first one to talk, and then I want to talk about these scores as well. Maybe that is the social faux pas.


But I don't think our next step in this Committee should be to have Tipper Gore come up here and start asking Tipper Gore, you know, do you raise your hand before you talk at a PTA meeting?

I mean, let's not be obsessed with politics here. Let's get to what this Committee is supposed to do. How do we look at and assess these scores and their impact on our children and our teachers and our schools and how do we boldly improve our schools for all of our children in this country? That is, I think, what we should be concentrating on.


Now, we can talk, I guess, all morning about what President Bush did or what technically Vice President Gore did. I am not interested too much in that. I am interested in, was this report accurate in what it assessed with some of the physically challenged and disabled kids? Was it accurate with respect to 14 States or two States reporting on those physically challenged kids?


But I also want to talk, Mr. Forgione and Mr. Musick, about how do we get to some test scores in the next 10 years that we can look back on and say, our Nation's children are doing better every single year. Our schools are getting better because of things we did in 1999 in education. That is what I am interested in. Not politicizing this process, not going back in history and talking about President Bush or Vice President Gore and how they may have made a social faux pas in releasing this data.


So, I would hope that we would get to what you and I, Mr. Chairman, have worked on in bipartisan ways, in cooperative ways, in genuine ways, on a Hearing on school safety, on some Hearings on bold and creative reforms in public education, some Hearings on what Paducah and Pearl and Jonesboro and Springfield have done to make their schools safer in light of the tragedies they have gone through. Let's get open to some of these very important programs for our Nation's children and for our Nation's schools.


I yield back the balance of my time.



Chairman Hoekstra. I thank the gentleman for his statements. I think you are right on. I am disappointed you are not all that interested in the integrity of the process. We have an agency out there that has rules and regulations, and they really need to be independent so that they can drive the debate. They provide us with the statistics so we can have the debate rather than becoming perceived as a mythical organization where we are arguing about the results which happens when we might cease that kind of activity. That is not what we want to have happen. So I am very interested in maintaining the integrity and the support that these organizations have achieved and that these individuals strive for. I think if we lose that, a lot of the other things that we have just doesn't make much of a difference and we can't have a good debate any more.

Let's get on to the panel. Mr. Castle, thank you for joining us this morning. I understand you would like to introduce Dr. Forgione.


Mr. Castle. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I share the thoughts of both you and the Ranking Member in many ways. The process should be above any question whatsoever. If you are going to test, and believe me as somebody who was a Governor if your state is going to be compared, you want to make sure the test is fair and not politicized. Of course, we are addressing all the other issues as well.


I guess I have a choice of who I could introduce here, because I also know Mark Musick well and I can vouch that he is one of the fine people involved in education in this country. I had the pleasure of serving on the National Assessment Governing Board with Mark, and there is nobody finer or more caring about education than he is.


But Dr. Forgione and I actually worked together in the State of Delaware so it falls as my lot today to introduce him. Prior to the last four years during which he has been Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, Pat served as the State Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Delaware from 1991 to 1995. That means he essentially ran education in the State of Delaware. In 1991, he served as Executive Director of the National Education Goals Panel so he had experience in that. And before that for four years he was a Division Director for Research in the State of Connecticut's Department of Education.


He has, as you would imagine, won many awards and appointments including the Leadership Recognition award from the National Center for Education Statistics. He received his B.A. of Sacred Theology from St. Mary's Seminary and University, his Masters in Educational Administration from Loyola College, and his M.A. in Urban History and Ph.D. in Administration and Policy Analysis from Stanford University. He has more education than anybody could ever need.


But the bottom line is he is this. He is extraordinarily energetic, he is obviously extraordinarily intelligent, he is extraordinarily apolitical, he is an individual who is devoted to what he does which is essentially trying to help children in education, and he has in my judgment, probably committed his life to that as much as anybody in the public arena in this country today. He is, I understand, not to be appointed again which I think is a tremendous loss for the country based on the personal experiences which I have had with him.


I am also concerned about the integrity of the process. This actually started when questions were raised about some of the students who have learning disabilities not being properly included in the test statistics. Secondly, is a political question which I think is perfectly legitimate to raise before the panel and these questions do need to be raised. I can't imagine two better people to answer them. I am happy to introduce Dr. Forgione.

Chairman Hoekstra. Not a bad beginning and introduction to Mr. Musick, the Chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board here in Washington and President of the Southern Regional Education Board in Atlanta. He has served as Chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board since October of 1996, as a member of the Executive Committee and Achievement Levels of that Committee. As Mr. Castle has indicated, he is also very well respected in the educational community.

Welcome to both of you this morning. We will begin with you, Dr. Forgione.





Mr. Forgione. Good morning Mr. Chairman and Members. I am Pat Forgione, the U.S. Commissioner of Education Statistics in the National Center for Education Statistics with the Department of Education.


I was originally going to summarize my answers to the 11 questions specified in the April 21st Memorandum that are contained in my testimony. But given the recent events I believe it most important that I offer some personal comments to set an appropriate context for this morning's discussion.


In light of the issues that have brought us here today I wish to clearly emphasize that over my 3-year tenure as U.S. Commissioner of Education Statistics, the integrity of NCES statistical processes have not been violated with respect to the identification of studies to be conducted, the design and implementation of those studies, and the analysis and content of our statistical reports. However, there is one area that I believe needs attention and that is the release of the Agency's statistical findings. This is one issue that has brought us here today.


Over the last three years, I have become sensitized to and more acutely aware of the issue of safeguarding the independence of a federal statistical agency. My primary goal has been to protect the Nation's data agenda. Critical to this is the release of results that are, and are perceived to be, objective and nonpartisan. There will be much discussion this morning on a variety of issues, but please do not be distracted from the heart of the matter, the integrity and independence of the statistical function in education.


The landmark Report, Principles And Practices Of A Federal Statistical Agency produced by the National Academy of Sciences National Research Council, identified two essential prerequisites for the effective operation of a federal statistical agency. First, a clearly defined and well-accepted mission. Second, a strong measure of independence.


The Report states, "To be credible, a statistical agency must clearly be impartial. It must avoid even the appearances that its collection and recording of data might be manipulated by political purposes."


Thus, it is in everyone's interest to have clear boundaries. The situation of ambiguity in releasing reports invariably leads to awkward situations that do not serve the Nation well. With the appetite for sound and unassailable education data at an all-time high, I believe it is all the more vital at this moment to give the National Center for Educational Statistics the institutional protection it needs to fulfill its statutory mission.


I have already submitted my to you statement in response to your series of questions regarding the 1998 NAEP reading results. I am prepared to answer any questions following Mr. Musick's comments.


Thank you very much.






Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you very much. Mr. Musick






Mr. Musick. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am Chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policies for the National Assessment, and as you noted President of the Southern Regional Education Board. As you know, the National Assessment was created in 1988 by Congress. It is an independent, bipartisan,

26-member group composed of state and local officials and yes, Congressman Castle was a valued member of that group.


The National Assessment sets policy and is the only program that provides sound comparable data, we would argue, on what American students know and can do. We have been doing this since 1969.


In many respects the National Assessment, as Al Shanker called it, a treasure, has become the Nation's most valuable and reliable report card on student achievement in our elementary and secondary schools. It is because of NAEP's role as an independent external measure that I believe the administration and the reporting of the National Assessment must be scrupulously honest, consistent and fair.


The blue ribbon commission which recommended the National Assessment Governing Board's creation envisioned the Board as Congressman Hoekstra said to buffer the National Assessment from what it called manipulation by any individual, level of government or special interest within the field of education. Now the blue ribbon commission referred to earlier was appointed by Secretary of Education Bennett,

co-chaired by Governor Alexander, including Commissioner Forgione and the then First Lady of Arkansas. They recommended a structure that would supply needed checks and balances and separations of power for this important and sensitive enterprise.


I would note that I have been appointed to the Board by Secretary Bennett, Secretary Alexander and Secretary Riley, and the current Vice Chair was appointed by Secretary Alexander and Secretary Riley. I say that only to emphasize the nonpartisan and nonpolitical. Congressman Mike Castle once said in 1994-95 during the reauthorization discussion and debate, "This may be the most nonpolitical group I have ever been involved with. Maybe you should be more political. We have tried to be nonpolitical, even without Congressman Castle's advice. His advice then was we needed to make what we were doing better known to Congress.


The Board adopted its first policies about issuing results in 1990. Since that time, we have issued more than two dozen reports. There have only been two occasions in which we felt that our policies were not followed. Both of them have been described this morning, the first being in 1992 with President Bush, and the latest being in February with Vice President Gore.


In both cases, the Chairman of this Board registered publicly, and we hope clearly, our concern that these actions were contrary to the Board's policy and could in the long term harm the credibility of the National Assessment. You have copies of those letters. The Board met two weeks ago and we reviewed its policies after discussing the February release at its March meeting. We also had a release in March of the state reading results, and that followed completely as has nearly another two dozen releases the Board's approved plan.


The Governing Board sets policy for NAEP under the law, but the Commissioner carries out that policy. This goes back to the 1988 legislation where it set up this structure of checks and balances. The Commissioner implements the Board policies, but as you know, he is an Officer of the Department of Education and falls under the Department's operational scheme.


Now, you have my statement about the release. I think the important thing from the Board's standpoint is that two weeks ago we revised our policy slightly and stated that the initial release of NAEP data shall be independent and apolitical, and separated clearly from other programs and policies. We have added that the official press statement or release announcing NAEP results shall be issued by the National Center for Education Statistics, rather than by any other Department, any other part of the Department of Education.


With regard to the issue of exclusion of NAEP students, the Commissioner has had a preliminary report which he presented to the National Assessment Governing Board two weeks ago, and he is prepared as I am, to comment on that issue as well this morning. But I will stop with my initial comments on the release of NAEP results.







Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you both very much for your testimony.

My colleague has described what happened as just a social faux pas by the Vice President, but throughout both of your statements I sense a real commitment and a real urgency to maintaining the integrity and the independence of the process. Is that correct?


Mr. Forgione. Yes.


Mr. Musick. Yes.


Chairman Hoekstra. For what reason is that?


Mr. Forgione. As I tried to state it is very important. I think the fact that we are here today with the interest of so many actors that perception becomes reality and therefore how we proceed is very much at stake in the belief in the data. I do believe this was inadvertent, but I think it points out the need to have more clear boundaries so that this will not be an issue in the future.


Chairman Hoekstra. And you strive for this in all aspects of your work? So it not only the release of the data, it is also independence as you structure the tests and those types of things. Is that correct?


Mr. Musick. I would certainly agree with that. We, the Board and I think the Commissioner would probably agree, can be accused of being purists when it comes to NAEP data. We do believe that ultimately the integrity of this data when you get to the core of it is what you have.


We know the data will be interpreted. We expect that. However, we also believe the data will drive the debate. We know there will be debates about this data. Our concern is that the facts be presented and released in a nonpartisan, nonpolitical way, and then let the debate and the interpretations begin.


Chairman Hoekstra. I am trying to think. Who was it, Joe Friday, "Nothing but the facts." That is kind of your job.


Mr. Forgione. The Board can have more in expression. It is the Commissioner who is really Jack Friday in the sense of facts only.


Chairman Hoekstra. Joe Friday.


Mr. Forgione. The Board can make comments about what this means, and they do it in a balanced way. The Commissioner certainly has no interest or perspective on what the data means.


Chairman Hoekstra. I think this is why this issue is important to me and why I think it should be important to Mr. Roemer. As you described it, this process in the work that you do begins the debate, it does not end the debate. Is that correct?


Mr. Musick. Yes. Yes, sir, I believe that is right.


Mr. Forgione. Yes.


Chairman Hoekstra. If part of the debate is whether it was used for political reasons or it is driven by political motivations or these types of things, it really doesn't help the process at all. That is why you so jealously guard your independence from political interests, correct?


Mr. Forgione. Yes.


Mr. Musick. Yes.


Chairman Hoekstra. Mr. Musick, regarding your restatement of how the results are supposed to be released in the future, does it say that these will now be released only by the Commissioner of Education Statistics, or does it just say independent from other agencies within the Department of Education?


Mr. Musick. The policy reads that the official press statement or release announcing the NAEP results shall be issued by the National Center for Education Statistics rather than by any other part of the Department of Education.


As you know, all of the Secretaries since the National Assessment Governing Board has been formed, have participated in the releases of data periodically. But what we are saying is the Commissioner speaks first, the Commissioner puts the data on the table first, and the Commissioner presents the facts first. Then any interpretation by the National Assessment Governing Board, the Secretary or anyone else follows either that presentation the next day, in coming months, or in coming years in fact.


Chairman Hoekstra. Mr. Forgione, for the release we are talking about that is the agenda that you propose, correct?


Mr. Forgione. That the Governing Board had approved and that I brought to the Department, yes.

Chairman Hoekstra Did you have discussions with the Secretary and the Vice President about that?


Mr. Forgione. Yes. Towards the end of this process interest was shown which often happens, and at that point we had a conversation to try to allow for that after the Commission and Governing Board would present the data. Really, there is much flexibility. It can take place in 5 minutes or that afternoon, and that was the intention that I believe was communicated and that we held to.


Chairman Hoekstra. My time has expired. We are going to break. We have got a vote on the journal on the floor. We should be back in about 10 or 12 minutes. At that point in time we will move to Mr. Roemer.




Chairman Hoekstra. The Subcommittee will reconvene. Mr. Roemer.


Mr. Roemer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Forgione, let me ask you a couple of very simple, easy questions. I am also concerned about the independence and the nonpartisanship and the honesty and consistency and fairness of this process, so let's get right to it. Is there anything that has politicized the collection in this process?


Mr. Forgione. No.


Mr. Roemer. Thank you. Is there anything that has politicized the contributions to this process?


Mr. Forgione. No.


Mr. Roemer. Is there anything that has politicized the analysis in this process?


Mr. Forgione. No.


Mr. Roemer. So the whole question comes to the release. There is no question of the integrity of the process, the compilation of data, the analysis of data. Everything is by the book. It all comes to the release that we are talking about here today.


Mr. Forgione. Yes.


Mr. Roemer. Okay, that is helpful. Now, on page 4 of your testimony you say the release, according to your guidelines, "This can take the form of a publication, a data file and/or an electronic release."


Now, this was released an hour before the press conference, electronically. Is that correct?


Mr. Forgione. Yes, it is.


Mr. Roemer. So according to your guidelines, even the release of this material was by the book?


Mr. Forgione. There is a subtle but important difference here. When I was asked the question I answered it honestly, that in my view it does affect the perception of objectivity in this case. But I do believe it was probably inadvertent and that is an important perception. I think a lot of the consternation we are facing, and as you said the distractions from looking at the data, are because of that distraction.


Mr. Roemer. Go to page 5 of your testimony and get right to that. You say on page 5, "The Commissioner electronically released the national NAEP data on the NCES web site at 10 a.m. that morning." Then you go on to say basically what you just said to me. "However, the fact that someone other than the Commissioner was the first one to announce these findings publicly at the press conference created a perception."


What we are here to clarify and spent all week with staff time and Member time and so forth is what you have now announced in your new guidelines, with an addendum, that now nobody in politics can release this data in the future. How long ago did you clear this up? When did you add that?


Mr. Forgione. Two weeks ago, I believe.


Mr. Roemer. Two weeks ago. Before we had this Hearing, you had clarified your rules to say whether it is President Bush, Vice President Gore or whether it is President Gore or President Bush in the future. We now have clarification on exactly who can release this data, is that correct?


Mr. Forgione. Yes.


Mr. Roemer. So we think we have solved the problem, is that correct?


Mr. Forgione. Yes.


Mr. Roemer. So why are we here?


Mr. Forgione. When one is asked to come and answer questions about an important issue, one does that.


Mr. Roemer. I am glad you showed up. You would probably have been in trouble Mr. Forgione, I am being facetious, if you said no. I think you have answered all my questions very clearly about the integrity and the honesty and the fairness and the independence of the process. We have attempted to clear that up. We have attempted to make sure that in the future there is not even an iota of perception problem here with who releases this data in the future, whether it is electronically an hour ahead of time.


Now we have clarified the rules as of 2 weeks ago. You did it independently. Somebody in politics cannot release this in the future.

You do say, or at least it has been said by your predecessor, Mr. Musick

Mr. Boyd said in his letter where he is complaining and surprised and disturbed about President Bush releasing this prematurely, a day early you say, "Of course, we are pleased by the President's interest in NAEP and realize his attention adds greatly to public awareness of NAEP results."


My final question would be now that we have clarified this and seem to be moving in a direction where there wouldn't be a perception problem in the future, how do we balance the line between making sure that this whole process is independent, fair, nonpartisan with showing that there should be after it is released some political interest in this? Mr. Musick?


Mr. Musick. Yes. We and others have often cited some examples, the Bureau of Labor Statistics gets cited quite often, of releasing important economic statistics. Then those statistics are commented on elsewhere or commented on later following that official release. Without stretching the analogy, I think that is at least in the general direction that we see the National Assessment operating.


Obviously others had said at the time that reading is so important in America, how can it be a problem when lots of people want to talk about reading? And that is a persuasive argument. We, and again I don't apologize for being purists in this, believe Joe Friday should put the facts on the table. There should be, as you pointed out, no question about the integrity of those facts. The discussion and interpretation should take place all across America, not just in press rooms in Washington, D.C.


Mr. Roemer. Thank you, Mr. Musick.


Mr. Forgione. If I could add one comment, the Governing Board assists the Commissioner in the release of the National Assessment data. We have a much wider portfolio of education data. I would ask you and the Chairman to consider as you are looking at the reauthorization of my agency presently, to think about putting protections that would institutionalize this relationship so that the boundaries are very clear and it will not lead to these awkward solutions.


Mr. Roemer. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Chairman Hoekstra. Thanks, Mr. Forgione, for those comments. I think that one of the things we are looking at here in the Subcommittee as we consider reauthorization is how do we build those protections into the process to ensure that this is a fully independent agency. It may require legislative changes rather than just some internal rewriting of the rules and those types of things. Mr. Castle.


Mr. Castle. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I came here and was interested in this Hearing because of the problems with the test itself. Now I am concerned about the independence of the agencies and also about the Vice President's role and 5 minutes isn't going to do it.


I would like to get to the bottom of all of this. Maybe I should ask Dr. Forgione. What is your judgment with regard to the National Center for Education Statistics on institutional protection? As I understand it, it is strictly under the guidance and control of the Department of Education. I don't mean in a political sense, it is just they control who works there and who doesn't work there. They control most of the activities of the organization.


Should it be, and you are not to be reappointed as I understand it, more independent? If I have time I am going to ask Mr. Musick should NAGB and NAEP be totally independent? What about the agency you work for? Should it be more independent from the Department of Education? Would that help with some of the depoliticizing of it?


Mr. Forgione. To provide the Commissioner with the authority in the area of personnel, budget and the release of reports would be a substantial enhancement to that integrity. Obviously you can work it out and I have had a terrific relationship with the Department. But it does take energy and roadblocks come up and priorities can bump your priorities.


Other statistical agencies do have this protection. Look at the legislation for the Energy Statistics Organization and Bureau of Labor Statistics. I don't think anyone would fault that especially at this moment with the prominence of education data. You know, during the eighties no one was listening to the data. It didn't have the same capital. These are so important now I think you need to think about this new context.


Mr. Castle. You may not have done this Dr. Forgione in your statement but I have a whole notebook filled with questions. I would love to have in writing your thoughts about how the Agency that you are heading now should be handled.






Mr. Castle. Mark, could we ask you the question on NAGB and NAEP? I have often thought that maybe they should be completely independent, and also your relationship with the National Center for Education Statistics. That was always a little bit of a troubled area when I was on the NAGB board. What are your thoughts about the independence and relationships of these organizations, as rapidly as you can?


Mr. Musick. I will make three points. When the Alexander James group considered this for more than a year in 1987 and came up with the proposal that Congress adopted in 1988, it envisioned a structure with shared power, a board, a contractor in the Federal Government.


A year ago That Congress gave the Governing Board the exclusive authority for something called the Voluntary National Test Proposal. Now we have exclusive authority for something that does not yet exist and we have shared ambiguity for the National Assessment program. So this sharing arrangement I would argue has worked but it does create ambiguity. The Board is trying to deal with the difference between exclusive authority and shared ambiguity, Mr. Castle, and I would have to think more about that.


Finally, today the relationship with the National Center of Statistics and the Governing Board, I would argue, has never been stronger. Commissioner Forgione's relationship with the Board, his openness, the way that we worked through the redesign for the National Assessment showed that he did not try to play things real close to the vest.


Mr. Castle. That may be institutional, may it not? Maybe I am referring to a different time when I said it was a little more fragmented. Should we institutionally change it to make sure it is always like that or the proper distance is there?


Mr. Musick. I think you can argue that the reason it is more personal today than institutional is that it reflects a leadership style.


Mr. Castle. I would appreciate hearing any thoughts you have on that. Let me ask you, and I am going to run out of time sooner than I would like to, on this particular round of tests there were some serious questions raised, at least in certain states, about certain students who might have achieved at lower levels. Learning disabled programs for lack of a more inclusive expression, were not given the test in the same percentage as they might have been in other states or other years. That really bothered me. That bothered me as much as anything.


I would like your comments on that. I have spoken to Dr. Forgione about this, and I don't consider it to be de minimis. I consider it to be significant. If you are going to give these tests, it is absolutely imperative they be fairly given and depoliticized. If there was a problem, we need to get to that and make sure that that is being eradicated.


Mr. Forgione. I can say to you unequivocally, the administration of the National Assessment at the national level and in the 43 states that took grade 4 and the 40 that took grade 8 had no incidence of any abrogation of administration.


What is happening is in the state contexts they are serving more kids in Special Ed, and those individual plans are identifying and maybe not yet perhaps giving the instructions when you can take the test and not take it. That is leading to variation. But I can also say to you the Study we just completed says this had modest impact on the results. I know the numbers look big.


Mr. Castle. But a little bit of that, with all due respect, is educational or understandable language. I was going to say gobbledygook The real bottom line is there are some differences in some of the people taking the test. You may argue it is not significant, but because of what you just went through there are some differences in who is taking the test and who isn't. Maybe we are not comparing the same oranges to the same oranges every year to year, or 2 years to 2 years.


Mr. Forgione. All you can do is go into a state and say all children should be tested. Give me your fourth grade list. We pick the 30 kids. Then the principal can only say Pat and Mark can't take the test because his IAP says so. We are driven by that. There is not uniformity throughout the country as to where those things happen. That is the only difference.


So I think we have uniformity as best we can. We are going to tighten up with the Board's help. If there is variation in the future, we may not produce your result because we may believe they lead to an unfairness.


But you are absolutely correct, the Governing Board is committed to a perception and reality of fairness. At this moment I can tell you, the 1996 mathematics test was not consequential in this matter, and I can say to you it is only modest here as you can read in my statement.


Chairman Hoekstra. Mr. Scott.


Mr. Scott. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First of all a very brief question in terms of which is worse. Is it worse to participate in an announcement after the data is on the Internet, after the results are on the Internet, or is it worse to make announcements at political fund-raisers the night before the report is released? Is there any question that announcing at a political fund-raiser the night before is worse?


Mr. Musick. Both of those were…


Mr. Scott. There is no question that announcing it at a political fund-raiser the night before the report is issued is worse. Is that a fair statement?


Mr. Forgione. I would agree they are both inappropriate.


Mr. Scott. You would agree that a political fund-raiser is worse, if anybody can get the information off the Internet after it is already on there? You have problems saying that it is worse to make the announcement at a political fund-raiser in terms of which more politicizes the report? If you have a problem saying it is worse, just say you have a problem saying it is worse. It is a simple question.


Mr. Musick. Congressman Scott, the two occasions I would argue were both in violation of the policy. The things that were said at the two occasions differed quite dramatically in terms of the breadth and depth of the comments.


Mr. Scott. So you have problems saying that announcing before the results have been made public at a political fund-raiser is worse than making, participating, in an announcement after the report has been put on the Internet. You have a problem saying it is worse?


Mr. Forgione. I don't think we addressed the fundamental question, which is the perception of integrity and the belief in the data, and one must address that. The degree of difference I don't think is really at issue. What is at issue is the public's confidence that the results are correct.


Mr. Scott. I thought it was a simple question. Obviously it wasn't. You have a problem saying that politicizing it, bringing it up at a political fund-raiser before it is announced, isn't worse than commenting on it after it has already been made public. I just say that because the other comments have to be taken in the context of the way you have answered that question.


Let me ask about the results themselves. Have the results been validated in terms of being meaningful? Do students who do well on the tests get better jobs, get better grades, are more likely to get into or perform well in college?


Mr. Forgione. At this point, there are not validity studies that are associated with the performance levels of the Governing Board. In other words, if you are basic, proficient, advanced, what are the consequences in the future for that? The Governing Board is using a judgmental process that is equal to what the states do, that says have you met the standard or not. They haven't gotten into what we call the "consequential validity" of it. It is more the base validity and that the test represents the constructs that the public has said are important, and the tests measure those.


Mr. Scott. The concern obviously is that some of these standardized tests have a racial bias, and if they are not validated then that would obviously cause concern. Is there any attempt to try to get validation?


Mr. Forgione. Well, we do bias analysis. I wouldn't call that validation but I can see in a common sense that you can use that. There is strict bias analysis done on every item to ensure that it doesn't have a difference impact on different categories of students because we want to use an item that would be fair and reliable. Therefore, that is strictly done. The National Assessment is probably the premier assessment in this country, if not the world, given the investment we make in it.


Mr. Musick. The kind of validity question I think you are asking, Mr. Scott, for the National Assessment, gets, as Congressman Castle would testify, a little complicated, because individual students don't actually take a National Assessment of course. They take a slice of the National Assessment. It is a survey examination.


Mr. Scott. My time is about to run out now. I want to get in one other question. Do you see certain variables in terms of good results? Do you see better results with smaller class sizes, better teachers, higher paid teachers? Can we learn anything through the assessment in terms of what we ought to be focusing on to improve education?


Mr. Forgione. The nature of the National Assessment is a survey assessment, not a testing program. We can tell you how the Nation is doing over time or a fourth grade class in 1992, 1994 and 1998. It doesn't have the ability to look at evaluative effects. It is not designed as a longitudinal study, it is cross-sectional. So you can't make those kinds of conclusions.


Every now and then we can see a correlation and we try to do secondary analysis. But the design is not meant to ask if Title I is working or is this working. We can tell you if poor kids are learning, but we don't know what program those treatments come from. It is an indicator, not a program evaluation tool.


Mr. Scott. Mr. Chairman, I don't have time to follow through on this, but it seems to me that if you are doing a survey, you ought to have enough statistical data to draw certain conclusions, and if we are going to be giving the tests we ought to be able to cull out some of this information. I would like to follow through on that at a later date.


Chairman Hoekstra. Mr. Fletcher.


Mr. Fletcher. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate you conducting this Hearing and I appreciate both of your testimonies. Let me start with making a statement.


You know, the object of this was really to depoliticize the educational assessment, for us to be able to really tell how are we doing, and how the programs we are implementing are doing. It is not for individual students to predict if they are going to be doing well. So we need to keep focused on that.


I want to look at how it has been politicized. When I look at the comments that Vice President Gore made, he said, "I am pleased today to be able to release the results." Clearly this was a premeditated, intentional effort to do something that was against the regulations and the intent of what we have established here.


He says, "Well, today I am very proud to be able to report to you new evidence that our efforts are beginning to pay off. For the very first time, reading scores have improved for each of the three grades measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress: 4th grade, 8th grade and 12th grade. This is great progress and we are proud to report it."


I looked at the results, and the fourth grade achievement levels showed no statistical significant change. Fourth grade scale score net gain is constant, 8th grade scores do represent progress in short and long term and 12th grade scores overall showed no change from 1992 to 1998.


It looks to me as if not only did he go out of his way to report something that he really shouldn't have done and to use it for political gain, but he exaggerated extremely the results of the test for political gain. There is certainly apples and oranges when you look at a side remark that was made by someone who is not in public office anymore and is not going to be there in the future.


Let me ask a few questions, especially that relate to Kentucky. First off, I want to say I understand there are about four states that registered large increases in the exclusion rates from 1994 to 1998, and Kentucky was one of those. Also the adjusted scores appeared smaller for all four states, but the results remained statistically significant for all but Kentucky. I just want to ask a question about that. As I understand, Mr. Musick, would you please explain why the NAEP exclusion policy changed in 1996?


Mr. Musick. In part because there are lots of things changing across America. I think this gets to a question of Congressman Scott. We are seeing a time of state efforts to expand services for disabled students and to test them in Kentucky. The KATS program tests them under nonstandard conditions with what is called accommodations, giving students more time and helping them take the test.


So the states all across America are trying to include more students in their testing programs. NAEP has had a longstanding tradition of trying to include more students. So the reason we changed that in 1996 was to try to take into account what is going on across America while, and this is a big "while", maintaining our trends and our ties to what went on 2 years and 4 years and 6 years before.


Mr. Fletcher. Do you think that could have resulted in any way in some elevated scores or looked like there was progress because of changes in the sampling?


Mr. Musick. Well, the Commissioner is better prepared than I to comment on that. I will simply say we will be releasing written results in a few months, a few weeks really. We will be looking at the kinds of questions you are asking, Congressman Fletcher, the kinds of questions our analysis has done. Before we changed the exclusion-inclusion rules, we did a year of pilot testing. We looked at it both ways. We used tests with no accommodations and tests with accommodations.


Mr. Fletcher. Let me interrupt. I have one more question. How do you know that states interpret inclusion rules in the same way? Kentucky has been used as an example of how the interpretation of this policy can really change scores. How do you ensure uniformity?


Mr. Forgione. We administer these tests at the national level. We go out and do it in 400 schools. In the states, we train independent individuals who go into the schools and oversee it. So the states are not controlling this, they are using the common criteria and applying it. So we have the stability.


We have also looked over time if the old criteria and the new criteria has changed the national measure? There is an old maxim: Don't change the measure if you want to measure change. So that was the tension we were in. We did a study saying that the new criteria and the old in mathematics gave us the same distribution, so statistically we could use the new criteria, and that is why the Board went to that.


Mr. Fletcher. My time is up. I appreciate your answering the questions. I would say in closing I really think some of the politicization of this shows the dangers of manipulation and the political abuse that would take place if we really established national testing.


Thank you.


Chairman Hoekstra. Mr. Ford.


Mr. Ford. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am pleased in some ways that I am hearing a lot of concern from my colleagues on that side of the aisle. I know there is genuine concern for how we can improve the quality of education in America. I am a little dumbfounded as to how we could be remotely upset that anyone could announce the fact that we are seeing some progress and movement in the right direction as relates to kids' reading.


I am from the state of Tennessee not far from Kentucky and my friend Mr. Fletcher and the others on that side. It amazes me that we would really call a hearing to criticize the Vice President for announcing the fact that we are moving forward particularly after our witnesses, Mr. Scott and I are a little offended, whom we are glad are here, couldn't answer the obvious. These findings that the Vice President announced

were already released or were already electronically released.


President Bush, who I had great respect for and I hope his son remains Governor of Texas, Mr. Fletcher, made the comments at a fund-raiser prior to the release of these findings. The Vice President, it is my understanding, made this announcement after the release at what could be considered a political event, and we are all politicians so anything we do is for political gains in many ways. So let us not be that naive and certainly ignore political realities. We are not going to all try to make gains.


But it just amazes me that we would actually hold a hearing on something so unimportant, when we have had to fight and fight and fight to convince my colleagues on the other side of the aisle that we ought to maybe explore what happened in Paducah, Pearl, Littleton and Conyers. We pray for those families and communities as they try to heal.

I would just have a few questions for the Commissioner. Commissioner Forgione forgive me, I am from Memphis and we have problems pronouncing those last names. I hope I am pronouncing your last name correctly. During your tenure at NCES has anyone ever abridged your ability to design or implement any study or any NAEP studies?


Mr. Forgione. No.


Mr. Ford. Did the electronic release of the NAEP results at 10 a.m. on February 10th fulfill your responsibility as Commissioner to release the data?


Mr. Forgione. It fulfilled it in one sense, but normally when we have a press event, the press event is seen as the more visible and therefore can set a context that one has to take into account. Electronically, typically, is done when we don't have a press event and get it out to America. Sometimes I always electronically release it, because I want the world to see our information.


Mr. Ford. So you wouldn't be surprised if you released something for the world to see and a little elementary school in my District which had access to the Internet saw it and decided to call the media and said hey, we see that reading scores are improving for students at our public schools throughout this District. You wouldn't necessarily be offended at that fact, would you?


Mr. Forgione. No, we would compliment them.


Mr. Ford. I have only been here a term and a half, but it sounds like to me we have folks crying over sour grapes. Maybe if somebody down in Texas had had an opportunity to announce these results a little sooner, we might not be as upset as we are now and might not have been provoked to call a Hearing.


The Vice President didn't invent the Internet, I think he did. Some folks don't believe he invented the Internet, but I think he did. He just happened to find this information a little quicker than other folks and happened to have a speech a little later that day announcing the fact that the President and he are committed to redoubling their effort to educate kids. I am trying not to be partisan here. He just happened to announce the fact after it had been released across the Internet that we are seeing some improvements.


I know my friend Mr. Hoekstra would have to be pleased, as he turns on my light, that we are making progress on these fronts.


I hated to have dominated my time and not allowed Mr. Musick to have a long period of time to respond. I know the question has been asked before, but I just want it in the record one more time. I know Mr. Scott tried to get at this, but would you characterize President Bush's action of announcing the 1992 results at a fund-raiser.

I think I am quoting you sir, and if I am not correct me, as an event that was not consistent with the principle of an independent, nonpartisan release of National Assessment data? I think you might have made that comment sir, if I am correct, as related to Mr. Gore.


Mr. Bush's comment, and I think he had every right to make the announcement

even if he decided to try to use it for political gain, which it is kind of hard to believe.

We are shocked that some of us up here would make statements for political gain.


Mr. Musick, did you make that comment regarding Mr. Gore? Would you say that that probably would apply to the distinguished President?


Mr. Musick. Mr. Boyd, my predecessor said he was surprised and disturbed by Mr. Bush's actions. I would say that my words would apply equally to both occasions, yes sir.


Mr. Ford. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the time, but again I think what it boils down to is that the Vice President found out this information a little quicker than other folks and made the announcement, and now we are going to accuse him of politicizing the fact that our kids are reading a little better. I will be continuing to politicize those things and hope that our kids will continue to read better and add and subtract and multiply and divide a little bit better, too.


I thank you for letting me go over my time, Mr. Chairman. I thank the witnesses for coming.


Chairman Hoekstra. I thank Mr. Ford for his questions. I just add that I can now understand if you believe the Vice President created the Internet, why you also believe his characterization of the test results. Mr. Schaffer



Mr. Ford. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Mr. Schaffer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am not sure which panelist is the most appropriate to comment, but NAEP used a time frame in assessing the overall improvement of students from 1992 to 1998. Am I correct in that?


Mr. Musick. Correct.


Mr. Schaffer. I think the bigger issue is not so much whether some politician decided to exploit the results of the data for whatever political advantage may be secured, but how that data was released and under what pretense as well. The time frame used by the Vice President was not the same as yours. Am I correct?


Mr. Musick. The figures were for 1992, 1994 and 1998. I think the Vice President may have focused on 1994 and 1998.


Mr. Schaffer. As opposed to 1992 and 1998. When focusing on the 1994 to 1998, and let me just quote what the President said, he said, "Well, today I am very proud to be able to report to you new evidence that our efforts are beginning to pay off. For the very first time, reading scores have improved for each of the three grades measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress: 4th grade, 8th grade and 12th grade." And then with emphasis, "This is great progress and we are proud to report it."

In your presentation of the data, however, did you come to the same conclusion?


Mr. Forgione. When I presented the data as I do in each and every case, I go back to the base year and talk first about the base year, 1992 versus 1998, in which there was no change at grade 4 and no change at grade 12 and grade 8 did have change. Then I will take an intermediate period, because in this case there was only one, in which there were gains over the short-term.


We have a quadratic where we lost ground, came back, and that is why it is equal at 4 and 12, but 8th grade was our success. So the Commissioner and the Board presented the full spectrum. The Vice President did focus on that intermediate period.


Mr. Schaffer. Just from the perspective of the value of the NAEP scores and what they tell the American people about the performance of their children, is there some difference just in the intellectually honest application of the findings when considering these time frames? In other words, what would be more honest in your opinion, the 1992 to 1998 comparison, or just the selective portion of 1994 to 1998?


Mr. Forgione. They both have validity, and one would have to put them in context. NAEP is the goal standard. It is done independently and it is done with integrity. That is why it is so important to release them in a way that people can interpret for themselves. That is why the Commissioner, I believe the Chairman said, is Jack Webb. We know the facts only, and let you decide what they mean.


But I don't want to underestimate that, because that is so important. Let's not just get distracted into who struck John, but what is at the heart of this. It is the integrity and the independence of a statistical agency and the perception that that may be a bridge, and no one wants that. So I hope you will address that as you go forward.


Mr. Schaffer. Mr. Chairman, do you need any of my time?


Chairman Hoekstra. I don't need your time, but I will take it.


Mr. Schaffer. I yield my time to the Chairman.


Chairman Hoekstra. I would like to insert for the record the National Assessment Governing Board Policy Statement. I believe this is from 1990. Without objection?







Chairman Hoekstra. I think your intent at the press conference as you talked about the data and your agenda differed. Your proposed agenda differed from the actual agenda in what way? What did you propose and what actually happened?


Mr. Forgione. The order of the presenters, in accordance with the NAGB policy, is that the Commissioner should release all the data and put the full spectrum out, then allow commentary at some point afterwards, immediately or later. In this case the Governing Board, the Secretary and the teacher would have joined us.


Chairman Hoekstra. So the National Assessment Governing Board policy is the data is presented first, after which there may be time for questions on the data or somebody may offer a policy statement. That is how you jealously guard it. What actually happened at the presentation?


Mr. Musick. At the presentation as has been established, the data was technically released on the Internet at 10 a.m. At 11 a.m. a press conference began with the Secretary introducing an outstanding teacher from Fairfax, Virginia. She introduced the Vice President. The Vice President released, his term, "released" the results. The Vice President left and Commissioner Forgione presented the results, and then I was on the program commenting on those results. Then there was a question and answer period with the press and persons in the audience.


Chairman Hoekstra. So the Vice President gave a rather sterile presentation of these are the numbers. Nothing but the facts? Is that what happened?


Mr. Musick. I think you have heard some of the testimony or some of the results.


Chairman Hoekstra. All right. I will get my 5 minutes again in 5 minutes. Mr. Kind.


Mr. Kind. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank the witnesses for coming even under the environment in which you are being asked to testify. I for one just want to echo what our Ranking Member said in regards to this hearing and what the purpose really should be about. That should be figuring out ways that this Committee can work together in a bipartisan fashion to try to improve the state of education in this country.


Quite frankly, I think it is an incredible waste of time to hold a hearing of this nature with this kind of content and to waste staff time for a few days talking about the release of information which to my understanding was published over the Internet for public consumption one hour after it was published, and then try to make some political hay about it.

If the next year and half in this Congress, Mr. Chairman, is going to be nitpicking and criticizing the Vice President of the United States for political purposes, we are in for a very long time, and I fear that we are not going to get much accomplished if anything.


I would think that when it comes to concerns about our children and the education that we are supposed to be providing in this country, that we can rise above this on occasion and keep our eye on the ball rather than wasting a whole lot of people's time.


I mean it is my understanding that after an hour of this information being publicized, the Vice President made some obscure comments in regards to the test results. This is a very fine line between political use and a policy discussion. There is no question about that. But this certainly cannot compare with a sitting President announcing the results of NAEP test scores a day before they are even published at a private school, and then shortly thereafter at a fund-raising event with the Vice President of the United States in attendance. So, let's be realistic about what this is all about.


What concerns me more is the fact that we have got what appears to be at least some manipulation of NAEP test results going on right now. I would like to hear your comments in that regard, because in all honesty, a lot of school districts are making some policy changes in order to accommodate and to include students with disabilities. I would like to know what is being done from your point of view in order to deal with these policy changes so that we don't have a state-by-state potential manipulation of future test scores and we can get some accurate and quantifiable data that are reliable in the future. If anyone would like to comment.


Mr. Forgione. Please, in my statement we do address that issue. I was concerned after the initial release of the state data. People raised the question. The number of identified Special Ed kids has gone up. We can understand that. America is funding more, so you would expect more children to be identified. But is exclusion happening?


We did a study, Mr. Kind, to make sure that we could identify the impact on it. I am pleased to say that despite the look of a large number, we can say to you it is only a modest impact. Only 14 of 36 states that were studied in 1992, 1994, and 1998 had a significant increase in the number of Special Ed kids. Therefore, this problem is a modest one at this point. We do recognize that we have got to be vigilant about it and make sure we put in place procedures that will not allow results to be reported that are not fair.

The answer to the question is there was no manipulation. We administered the tests independently. We picked the schools in every state. We picked the roster of fourth graders and we drew 30. Only at that point could the principal or administrator say Mark and Pat should not be tested because their IEP says so. So that is a fixed document that continues to be manipulated. It is there.


Now, why do different numbers pop up in different states? That is a contextual issue relating to the services and the funding and their priorities. We tried to have a level playing field. Certainly the state over time hopefully would be level.


We are vigilant about this. I can say to you with confidence, these results hold. It did not apply to the Math results released in 1996, but it certainly is an issue that the NAEP and the state governments with their state testing programs need to be vigilant about.


Mr. Kind. In those states where you feel there may have been some exclusion rates affecting test scores, were there any other factors that may have attributed to some of the different test scores in those states?


Mr. Forgione. We only had time to look at this one factor: What impact did the increase in exclusion between 1994 and 1998 that went from 4 percent to 8 percent have on your performance? If you had growth? Would raising the score up impact? We were very harsh. We took out the bottom kids and raised the 1994 scores, and then asked is there still a statistically significant increase or are you still statistically the same? No one went backwards, and 33 of the 36 states showed that they maintained their growth.


So in fact I can say to you with confidence that even this rigorous model didn't have the impact. We are doing some reasonable models, because Special Ed kids are not all at the bottom. Some ADD kids are terrific performers. We will have those studies. Two of the 3 States that did not show significance at this point, may in fact with the reasonable model be able to be certified. But the results will not change. This is a hypothetical study, "what if."


The results are what they are. You could ask the same question if you had more migration or you had more poverty. We take the data in NAEP and report it. The Governing Board does not allow any type of massaging of the data, because people don't view that as the proper approach.


Mr. Kind. Thank you.


Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you. Without objection, I would like to submit for the record a February 18 letter, February 18, 1999, from Chairman Mark Musick to Mr. Forgione, just quoting, "I am writing to express the Board's concern about the recent press conference for release of the 1988 NAEP reading report card. We believe the format, tone and substance of that event was not consistent with the principle of an independent, nonpartisan release of the National Assessment data, an important and longstanding Board policy." That letter was written at the direction of the Executive Committee of the National Assessment Governing Board I and my colleagues here on the panel believe.






Mr. Roemer. Mr. Chairman, I will not object to your request to enter that into the record, but I would make a request at this time to have unanimous consent to enter into the record right after that letter Mr. Boyd's letter about President Bush's problems in 1992.


Chairman Hoekstra. Absolutely. Without objection.






Chairman Hoekstra. What we are trying to establish here is that there is a principle of independent nonpartisan release of National Assessment data, an important and longstanding Board policy.


My colleagues on the other side of the aisle tend to belittle that point and say this is no big deal, but actually in reality it is a big deal and the Board has consistently driven home that point. I am concerned by the inferences that are being made by the other side of the aisle that this is something that isn't very important and we ought to just blow it off because this is a partisan event. You are refusing to characterize this.


Mr. Roemer. Mr. Chairman, I think you are characterizing the witness' testimony today in an inaccurate fashion. I think Mr. Forgione has said that this was not a violation in fact, but it was a perception problem. That is what he says in his testimony.


Chairman Hoekstra. The format, tone, and substance of that event was not consistent with the principles of an independent nonpartisan release of the National Assessment data. Mr. Tancredo.


Mr. Tancredo. Thank you Mr. Chairman. Mr. Forgione, on March 23rd, the L.A. Times quoted you as saying that Gore's presentation of the results "can cloud the confidence people might have in the independence of the data."


Education Week quoted you as saying the following about the Administration. "We have had contentiousness over how to proceed, but I never felt anything that would be out of line. It has only been over the presentation of the research, not the design."


Based on usual testimony and these quotes, it appears you feel strongly the Vice President should not have released the reading results. Can you explain for us a little more about what you mean by contentiousness?


Mr. Forgione. Well, first I will say there is a subtle but important difference here. When I was asked the question, I do believe that the way this was released in a press conference did have the perception of politicizing this event. Therefore, as I said in my opening statement, we have got to have a strong measure of independence, and therefore the Commissioner should have released the data at that event. It doesn't mean because we electronically released it, we do those things simultaneously.


So I felt that this was not an appropriate approach. I believe it was inadvertent, but it is something that we do not wish to have continued. I am pleased the Governing Board has taken action with regard to NAEP that will not allow this in the future. I ask you in your reauthorization to ensure that this independence happens.


At this moment, my Agency is suspect and people in the education community are raising major concerns. If you are going to attract a new Commissioner to this position, you want someone who is going to come in and not be afraid to do what is right. Therefore, the perception is at this moment that this thing didn't go well. I have no evidence, but I just don't like those perceptions. The only way to deal with it is get the boundaries clear and get away from these awkward situations, and that is what I meant to say. I didn't mean to offend anyone. I meant to say what is honestly, as the Chairman has said, is the policy.


Mr. Tancredo. Mr.Chairman, the reason why I am concerned about this, and I do believe that it is appropriate for us to be looking into this today. During the time I spent at the U.S. Department of Education, a little over 11-1/2 years as the Regional Director in Region 8, there was one place that we could go and one organization that we could look to for solid and good answers to questions. There was a general feeling that when you saw NAEP results, there was a reliability factor there perhaps greater than any other. Everything else we dealt with, ITBS all the way down, was fraught, frankly, with problems that did make you question whether or not you could use the information reliably.

NAEP, however, was different. I was always encouraging those states in my region who are not participants in NAEP to become participants because of what I believed to be, as I say, a very good program you can rely upon. So it is extremely disconcerting that anything could happen in this particular program that would cast a shadow of doubt, even the slightest shadow of doubt, on the credibility of the activity of NAEP and of the results. It really is about the only thing we have to rely on in this environment; this arcane and sometimes ethereal world of measurement and assessment.


So I yield back the balance of my time.


Chairman Hoekstra. Mr. Roemer.


Mr. Roemer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman I just want to get on the record that I have some concerns what has been conveyed in the last couple of statements regarding what Mr. Forgione has said in his testimony. He has said the Commissioner must release all education data for the agency. This is a quote from his testimony on page 4. This can take the form of publication, a data file or an electronic release. The fact of the matter is it was electronically released an hour before the press conference.


Then Mr. Forgione goes on to say on page 5, that the Commissioner electronically released the national NAEP data on the NCES web site at 10 a.m. that morning. However, there may be a subtle perception problem, which now Mr. Musick and Mr. Forgione have clarified internally.


Mr. Musick, could you read for me your new rule that you published 2 weeks ago to make sure this doesn't happen again?


Mr. Musick. I think I can, sir. I think reading the relevant parts of it are really what you want to hear. One second please.


In revising the NAEP release policy earlier this month, the Board added new language which underlines our previous position. It reads: The initial release of NAEP data shall be independent and apolitical, separated clearly from other programs and policies of the Department of Education.


It also adds that the official press statement or release announcing NAEP results shall be issued by the National Center for Education Statistics rather than by any other department in the Department of Education.


Mr. Roemer. This is a result, Mr. Musick, of the perception problem that the Vice President inadvertently, and that is a quote from Mr. Forgione, inadvertently created

even though the data was out on the web an hour ahead of time. Now a political person according to the guidelines can no longer be part of an announcement, and that is a result of this social faux pas by the Vice President and former President Bush's violation. Is that correct?


Mr. Musick. This is the Board's effort to make sure that…

Mr. Roemer. …to clarify…


Mr. Musick. …to clarify…


Mr. Roemer. Thank you, Mr. Musick, because you have addressed this. This seems to me to be a Committee in search of a perception problem. We just had the Chairman begin to criticize the Vice President's speaking style. He said his presentation before Mr. Forgione was sterile or his presentation. Is that our next Hearing? Are we going to start to have Hearings on the Vice President's speaking style and presentation?


I mean, come on. We have better things to do with our time, with staff time, with this Committee. We have now, and this is not something I am making up, in Roll Call people saying that there are teams of Republicans that are going to read from the Vice President's book on the House floor, and that people are going to magnify every statement he makes.


We wouldn't be here today if the Vice President was not in the running for President. If he was a Vice President simply performing his Vice Presidential duties and he had done this, we probably would not be here today. But because he is a candidate for President on the Democratic side we are here. We are having a long Hearing, you have addressed it internally, and what I worry about is that the GOP is going to turn…


Chairman Hoekstra. Excuse me, Mr. Roemer.


Mr. Roemer. It is my time, Mr. Chairman.


Chairman Hoekstra. I believe that you are characterizing my behavior and my motivation.


Mr. Roemer. No, I am not. I just quoted you about what you said about the Vice President's speech.


Chairman Hoekstra. Yes, you are. You characterized this..


Mr. Roemer. It is my time, Mr. Chairman.


Chairman Hoekstra. You characterized this Hearing…


Mr. Ford. Mr. Chairman, the Ranking Member deserves his time.


Mr. Roemer. It is my time. I would be happy to yield.


Chairman Hoekstra. This is a matter of personal privilege.


Mr. Roemer. I will be happy to yield to you when I finish my statement.


Chairman Hoekstra. This is a note of personal privilege. I believe you are characterizing my motivation.


Mr. Roemer. No, I am not. I would not characterize your motivation.


Mr. Ford. I would.


Mr. Roemer. I am quoting you and what you said in your statement about the Vice President's speaking style and I am quoting you in what has been in publications across this City, going after the Vice President. And we have now had a 2 hour Hearing. We have had Mr. Musick and Mr. Forgione tell us that they have cleared this thing up, and we have had Mr. Forgione say that this is an inadvertent perception problem.


Chairman Hoekstra. The gentleman's time has expired.


Mr. Roemer. I would be happy to yield to the Chairman.


Chairman Hoekstra. Let's keep going here. Dr. Forgione, you have not been reappointed to the Board is that correct? Excuse me, as Commissioner.


Mr. Forgione. I made a decision to withdraw my nomination last Monday.


Chairman Hoekstra. Can you give me a little background as to how you reached that decision?


Mr. Forgione. I was informed by the White House that because I have made a mistake in the fact that I deliberately overpay my taxes each year. On April 15th, I let the IRS know that I am getting a refund, but I did not finish my taxes asking for the refund by August 15th. Each year I got a refund, I never got sanctioned by the IRS, never got penalized. But they feel that this is a mistake that in their minds and it precludes me from being eligible for reappointment.


The Secretary tried to intervene. He wasn't successful. So I decided at this point my term is up on June 21st, that I should just proceed onward.


Chairman Hoekstra. In characterization of this little social faux pas by the Vice President, did you have discussions or e-mails, or your staff back and forth with the Vice President as to exactly what was going on and how the process should work?


Mr. Forgione. I had a conference call on Monday, February 8th, in which the Secretary's office, my office, and the Vice President's office talked about his intention to join us which we welcomed. At that point when I left the meeting I thought it was going to be at 10 o'clock as we had previously decided that I would present, Mr. Musick would follow, and then they would join us and have the kind of activities that would follow.


When I left that meeting it was my understanding that was going to happen. I was subsequently informed by one of my staff members the next morning that it would be different, and I had no idea that the Vice President would come and release the data at that point. I was not aware of what was going to happen. I had no conversations and no e-mails with the Vice President's office from that Monday to this day.


Chairman Hoekstra. Did you clearly outline to them what the policy statements were? Did they have a thorough understanding of what those policy statements were as to how data should be released?


Mr. Forgione. I always try to advocate for the importance of the perception and fact of integrity and independence. The Department has always supported the Commissioner having that prerogative to release. If there are circumstances where it can't be done, then we can try to accommodate it. But when we have a press conference, I have always gone first, with the Governing Board and others later. This was as I said, just a departure from that procedure.


Chairman Hoekstra. Were you led to believe that you would be reappointed as Commissioner?


Mr. Forgione. Obviously, as I entered the last year of my term. It is a fixed 4-year term, and I was appointed in June of 1996. In January, the indication was that if I met the standards of the FBI check and the other types of scrutiny that I would be.


Fourteen weeks into it on April 14th, I received this call. I was shocked by it, but I accept the fact that the President can appoint anyone that he deems appropriate, and I take them at their word what the reason is. I am proud that the Department advocated, but it wasn't successful.


Chairman Hoekstra. Mr. Musick, do you provide any feedback to Dr. Forgione as to his performance as Commissioner?


Mr. Musick. Not formally, no.


Chairman Hoekstra. What has Mr. Forgione's performance been?


Mr. Musick. Working with the Commissioner through the NAEP program which of course is what I am most familiar with. Pat's open style and the way he worked with us on the redesign of the National Assessment has been to tell us what he is thinking about, to share information with us and to let us respond to drafts. It is a very open style and one for which I think the Board Members would give him high marks.


Mr. Roemer. Mr. Chairman, you certainly don't have to yield to me, and I doubt if you will, but can I ask a question? Has this Hearing now gone from the NAEP test to whether or not the administration has the ability to reappoint political appointees?


Chairman Hoekstra. The issue has moved from one of whether the administration politicized an event which is unacceptable, whether Bush does it or whether this Vice President does it, because the key to this being a successful organization is that they be independent. And I believe earlier today Mr. Forgione indicated that there was some question or some cloud over this organization based on what had happened in February.


And I am now concerned that as Mr. Forgione has articulately and actively fought for maintaining the independence of that Agency and has done a good job, that perhaps by challenging and doing his job for maintaining the independence of that agency, may have lost the opportunity to be reappointed to this job.


Mr. Roemer. Would the gentleman further yield? I think we have to be very careful now, Mr. Chairman, to go forward in a Hearing, public Hearing, to talk about the personnel practices of Mr. Forgione and start getting into tax returns and a host of different things. I don't think this is fair to him. I don't think it is fair to him to evaluate his performance which I am sure has probably, from what I can see, been good. But we are not equipped to start having a public Hearing on this gentleman's performance in front of the press and the public and everybody else. I don't think it is fair to him.


Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you. Mr. Ford.


Mr. Ford. Sure. I think so much has been said, and pretty much everything has been said. The Chairman was questioning whether or not Mr. Roemer was questioning his motives, and I would say that you just questioned the Administration's motives and what action might have been taken with Mr. Forgione.


I don't like questioning anyone's motives, but when you leave yourself open for those kinds of questions you have to be prepared to answer them. Perhaps the Administration will have to answer this question. I think Mr. Chairman questioning the Vice President the way you have questioned him and the Vice President's office certainly can lead one to suggest or one to reach the reasonable conclusion. I am fascinated by the legal terminology being used on the other side, "the intent." We are acting as if the man broke some sort of law by announcing what he read across the Internet.


I would only ask Mr. Forgione and Mr. Musick, if you wanted to make this announcement yourself? I understand why you would want to make the announcement. I say I represent the City and I have two other colleagues that represent it with me, and I can tell you when good news comes our way we are all rushing to announce the news. But if I release it across my web page and then hold a press conference to announce it, I can't act like I am dumbfounded when my colleague announces it ahead of me.


Mr. Musick if you were so opposed, I think I quoted you correctly. You sort of got sidetracked a bit when you said in your letter, the format, tone and substance of that event was not consistent with the principles of an independent, nonpartisan release of National Assessment data. Those are your words, and I imagine you would link it to Mr. Bush's comments as well as the question I was getting at. You pushed it off on Mr. Boyd but that is what you said.

Why then did you participate in an event that you thought was so partisan or violated the principle or was not consistent with the principle of this independent, nonpartisan release of the National Assessment data? Because if my memory serves me, you said you participated along with this Fairfax teacher, the student and Vice President. Again, if this violated the principles of the Board why would you voluntarily participate?


Mr. Musick. Yes, sir. As you heard Commissioner Forgione say, the involvement or the change in the Board's plan took place over a 48 to 72 hour period. We were told there might be some change, that a teacher would be involved, the Vice President's office called and might be involved. That was on a Friday.


On a Monday we were told it is looking more like it. When I arrived that morning, I did not know the order of the presentations.


If you will also look at my letter Congressman, you will see in the next sentence I said to Mr. Forgione, "You and I discussed this problem immediately after the release on February 10th." We were standing on the stage or just off the stage. So I didn't know going into that morning how the event was to unfold.


Mr. Ford. Would you have felt better had you been able to make the announcement and not the Vice President?


Mr. Musick. I would have felt okay only if the Commissioner had made the announcement.


Mr. Forgione. If I could comment, Mr. Ford. I guess an analogy I would like to ask you to think about is this: Would you be comfortable with the President releasing the unemployment statistics each month? Certainly the highest office in the Nation you want to give honor to. The question is, when you have important indicators that are so vital and so important to public policy you want to insulate that as I said in the statistical document.


Mr. Ford. I don't mean to interrupt. I know Mr. Roemer wants to say something, but let me ask you one last question. Do you think the Vice President manipulated the results? Do you think he somehow or other was able to penetrate your network or system and rig these results to show this? Because I am curious. I don't quite get it. Maybe it is me. You put them out an hour beforehand. The results showed improvement and showed progress. Are we somehow suggesting that the integrity of this process, the independence of the Board, has somehow been threatened. You released it across the Internet, not the Vice President. The Vice President, or me, or whomever, I must tell you if you were to do it again before you announced it, I would make the announcement. I don't understand what the big deal is, Mr. Chairman.


Mr. Forgione. We won't give you access to the data.


Mr. Ford. Hold on one second, Mr. Forgione. I don't understand what the big deal is. I have got to think if Mr. Goodling or you had access to it, you might have made the announcement.


To call these two fellows here, to depart from what we were talking about as Mr. Roemer said, to talk about this guy's tax returns. Mr. Forgione seems like a great guy. I don't know all the facts, but I would be happy to appeal on your behalf with the Administration if needs be, because you seem like an upstanding and honest sort of a "shoot-straight" kind of guy.


But I don't understand why we are so offended here. The Vice President didn't manipulate the results. He didn't go into your systems and figure out how to say, "Fourth and eighth graders are reading better. I have got to do this so my campaign or the Administration looks better."


All he did was announce results that you all put together and released an hour before his press conference. Mr. Musick goes to the press conference, participates and then gets offended when he can't go first or you are not there to release the results before the Vice President inadvertently does, after you had already done it on the Internet.


When someone questions your motivations Mr. Hoekstra, it is because of this. Believe me, if there was something the Vice President had done wrong, I would be the first to say. But I don't see what he did wrong here, other than go on the Internet, find the results, call a press conference, invite the Board, and make the announcement.


Perhaps it is me, but I can tell you if you do it again and I see it before you guys do it, you may have to hold a Hearing on me because I will make the announcement as quickly as the Vice President did. With that, I yield to Mr. Roemer whom I know wanted to ask a question as well.


Chairman Hoekstra. Mr. Castle. Are you ready?


Mr. Castle. No, sir.


Chairman Hoekstra. Mr. Schaffer.


Mr. Schaffer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Any charge made that the Vice President manipulated the data is not unfounded, given the comments that you made a little bit earlier. It is all in the presentation of the data and the statistics.

There is the phrase. I can't remember how it goes, but basically there are lies, statistics, or something?


Mr. Forgione. Lies, big lies, and then there is statistics.


Mr. Schaffer. There are lies, big lies, and then there is statistics. That may apply here as well. Because what the Vice President referred to was really a subset of the overall statistical data, with total ignorance of the statistical baseline to suggest whether student scores actually indicate any kind of improvement at all. Again, the baseline used by NAEP is 1992 to 1998, am I correct in that?


Mr. Forgione. Yes.


Mr. Schaffer. The Vice President used the time frame from 1994 to 1998. So is it fair for me to say that the President told the truth?


Mr. Forgione. They certainly presented half of the truth.


Mr. Schaffer. But he didn't tell the truth, right?


Mr. Forgione. Not the whole truth.


Mr. Schaffer. This is my next comment. It is fair to say the President didn't tell the whole truth.


Mr. Roemer. Are we talking about President Bush or Vice President Gore? You keep referring to him as the President.


Mr. Schaffer. Excuse me. When I talk about not telling the whole truth, it is hard to keep track of which one I am talking about in that case. The Vice President is what I am referring to in this case. It is accurate to say the Vice President did not tell the whole truth with respect to disclosing NAEP's data.


Mr. Forgione. I prefer to say the Vice President presented part of the data and the Commissioner later presented all parts of the data. I would say that is not trivial and that is why we want the Commissioner to go first, because America has to believe the data. What he did was not inappropriate, if in fact all of the information had gotten out. When the Vice President leaves, a lot of the press leaves with him.


Mr. Schaffer. I would agree with you that this is not trivial.


Let me ask, Mr. Musick, why do you suppose you were invited to be at this event? This announcement where this information was disclosed and the Vice President shows up, and you said the teacher was there. What do you suppose your purpose was there and why you were invited?


Mr. Musick. I was there as Chairman of the Board. The event was as you have heard, and the plan was approved weeks in advance. That is how we do it.


Mr. Schaffer. Let me stop you there. Were any other Members of the Board invited to participate in the role you were invited to participate in?


Mr. Musick. Normally we only have one Member from the Board. We rotate and try to give different Board members a chance.


Mr. Schaffer. Having a Board Member there in your opinion would serve what useful purpose?


Mr. Musick. The Commissioner presents the facts and normally the Board Member most closely affiliated with the facts makes the first comment.


Mr. Schaffer. Do you believe the credibility of the Board is predicated on the nonpartisan nature of board members and the Charter of the Board?


Mr. Musick. You think the Board is nonpartisan. We have elected officials on the Board, but I would argue the Board operates in a nonpartisan way.


Mr. Schaffer. So the nonpartisan credibility that the Board maintains, do you believe that level of credibility has some useful purpose in presenting the data, the numbers and so on?


Mr. Musick. The nonpartisan Board sets the policy for NAEP and the Commissioner implements it. So they both have to be nonpolitical; nonpartisan.


Mr. Schaffer. The Vice President, prior to announcing the half truth, went through and said a number of things. I am quoting. "We have worked hard, very hard, to help states and communities raise academic standards, invest in teacher training, and marshal the effects of thousands of young people through the AmeriCorp program and also an expanded work-study program. And for all of these reasons, under the leadership of President Clinton, education in America is America's top priority. Well, today I am very proud to be able to report to you the new evidence that our efforts are beginning to pay off," and so on.


So there is the Vice President making the claim that his bureaucracy and his programs and so on have resulted in an increase in scores about which we should all be excited, and they invite you to stand next to him as a credible member of a nonpartisan Board.

Let me just ask: Is this why you are uncomfortable? Do you think that this whole scenario suggests an effort to politicize the data?


Mr. Musick. This whole scenario? I think this event was an unfortunate deviation from our Board policy. I do not believe that the National Assessment's credibility today is terribly impugned. I think this was one event. We had one other event we talked about.


Mr. Schaffer. Do you think the Vice President took advantage of your credibility in attaching your statistics to his programs?


Mr. Musick. I would not, and I could not answer that question.


Chairman Hoekstra. The gentleman's time has expired. We are going to yield to Mr. Roemer for a question. By unanimous consent, I believe unanimous consent, we are going to allow Mr. Castle to ask some questions and then we will end the Hearing. We have another vote coming up.


Mr. Roemer. Mr. Musick, just so I understand where we have gone in the last 2 hours and 10 minutes. If the teacher from Fairfax, what is her name?


Mr. Musick. Emily Parker, I believe.


Mr. Roemer. Emily Parker. If Emily Parker had introduced Mr. Forgione first to announce the statistics and then Vice President Gore had followed Mr. Forgione, would we have had a perfectly okay perception of this event then?


Mr. Musick. I think that if that had been the plan put before the Board and approved, and had been followed in that way, we probably would have. The comments that were made were interpretive comments by the Vice President, and we have held to present the data, and not comment on it. So probably so.


Mr. Roemer. Thank you.


Chairman Hoekstra. That is a recess. We have all the time in the world now. Mr. Castle.


Mr. Castle. Thank you Mr. Chairman, for yielding me all the time in the world. I can use it for all these questions.


A couple of statements: I believe this Hearing is worthwhile for an entirely different reason. I believe that the process of testing is overwhelmingly important and the equity and fairness of testing is of overwhelming importance.


We are going to be reauthorizing NAEP and NAGB. That is never easy. We have been through it before, and for that reason I think it is important that we straighten even some of these things out.


I think you all know my feelings about this. I think when you give these tests and you say they are statewide results, or you break it down by state, then doggone it, it ought to be fair in terms of the balance of those with learning disabilities, as well as those who are good students in private schools, or whatever it may be. If that is the claim, let's make sure it is happening. I know it is complex.


That much I learned when I was on the Board. I never did understand it all, but I know it is complex. I just beg and beseech you all to do it. I know some of your good staff are behind you in that, too.


Secondly, I hope Dr. Forgione in the case of you not being reappointed, that it was for valid reasons. Frankly, I have heard this tax business. That doesn't seem particularly overwhelming to me in light of some other appointments and reappointments in this and other Administrations in fairness. I will just let it go at that. I just hope it was not for political reasons. I am not stating it was. I hope it didn't work out that way.


I am going to ask you a question, Mr. Musick. I didn't start on this whole political kick, but I have become concerned. I understand there is a memo or something that shows that the Vice President was not to be the person to lead this off.


Maybe you answered these questions when I was doing an announcement on teachers at a press conference, but at what point was a decision made and who made the decision to allow the Vice President to be first? I don't think he should have been anywhere near it. I don't think President Bush should have done what he did years ago. I don't think any politician should be anywhere near an announcement like this.


My question is, how did this happen? Does this impact the integrity of NAGB in some way or another, in terms of how you all operated that particular day? I understood that afternoon before he was not to be first. Somehow the order got changed.


Mr. Musick. I think Commissioner Forgione did not have any direct comment. I have said to Congressman Ford that I walked in the room that morning and found things not exactly as I had anticipated.


Mr. Castle. You weren't involved in that?


Mr. Musick. There were conversations over a 48-hour period. We were told the Vice President would be involved, likely he would be involved, or the Vice President is going to be involved. And the Board, as Mr. Roemer raised a moment ago regarding the Vice President's involvement at that time in an appropriate way, viewed it as bringing more attention to this.


I think the question you raised a moment ago Mr. Castle, is a good one. Maybe we need to ask the question: Can elected officials at that level be involved without it skewing the process?


Mr. Castle. The answer is no.


Mr. Musick. The Board has not taken that up.


Mr. Castle. Why did Emily Parker introduce the Vice President? Who told her to have it happen that way? How did that person come to that decision? Does anyone know? Did anyone ask her? Do any of you know how? Have you asked the question how it came that he did go first? Obviously that is in real contradiction to your own rules and regulations that that would happen. I would hope that somebody has raised the question. I would like to know the answer of how this came to happen that the Vice President was the one that started this off.


Mr. Musick. There were also questions about time. Commissioner Forgione mentioned originally it was going to be 10 o'clock, then 10:30 or 11 and then back to 10. I assumed when I was hearing that, that different persons' schedules were affecting this. I assumed that this was a Departmental decision, but the Commissioner, again, I had no…


Mr. Castle. Dr. Forgione, you don't know either?


Mr. Forgione. After I left the meeting on Monday, when I thought we were going to go at 10 and they were going to come in at 11, I have no knowledge of who made the decision and why. We were just informed of it.


Mr. Castle. It could have been made at a Departmental level, at a higher level within the Department. Wouldn't they have to communicate it to one of you?


Mr. Forgione. They communicated the fact and we prepared the agenda.


Mr. Castle. Somebody communicated to you the fact that the Vice President would go first?


Mr. Forgione. My press person got called and told this will be the order of the sequence.


Mr. Castle. It was the Department of Education that made the decision that the Vice President would go first, or at least they communicated that to you?


Mr. Forgione. Yes.


Mr. Castle. We can only assume how it got to them. Okay. I have no further questions.


I will just reiterate what I said. I think it has been a problem. I think we really need to address it. Hopefully this incident will eliminate the politics of it and you can concentrate on the job you are doing. You do your job well, but this is a little bit of a mark against it.


I yield back, Mr. Chairman.


Mr. Forgione. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Schaffer, I believe I misspoke a few minutes ago, characterizing what the Vice President said as a half truth. I think it is an interpretation of the data which would be legitimate in a context. It did happen. But the context has to be correct for it to be there. So I think I misspoke on that.


Mr. Schaffer. Was the context correct?


Mr. Forgione. I think there was a fuller context.


Mr. Schaffer. But was the context correct in the case of the Vice President's presentation?


Mr. Forgione. The Governing Board has determined in its letter that this practice should not happen.


Chairman Hoekstra. Mr. Ford, I believe, has a question.


Mr. Ford. Let me just say two things. One, I have enormous respect for Governor Castle. I am a little surprised that he would sort of take the line of questioning that he did. But in fairness to the Governor and the fact I know the Scheduler and Director of Protocol at the White House for the Vice President, perhaps we can subpoena them or have them come before the Committee to have them answer all of these questions fully and get to the bottom of what is emerging as a huge scandal as to how decisions are made at the White House and in the Vice President's office with regard to who speaks first and who speaks last.


I will say that the next time anyone from NAEP goes over, and I have a few friends over in the Office and perhaps we could have saved time and resources here today, I will assure you that never again will the NAEP be slighted at the White House or any event the Vice President is participating in. I feel confident saying any event you participate in with this Committee never again will you be slighted. I hate to sound petty, but it sounds as if that is where we are going and where we have been going for some hours now, and I am contributing to this by prolonging this.


My question was not answered because I did so much talking last time. Do you think the Vice President manipulated the data, either one of you however he interpreted it? Forget the interpretations for a moment. We have some data here that the Board wanted to release and, in fairness to the Board, should have spoken first. But since you didn't, do you think that the source of the misinterpretation was the data that the Vice President interpreted? Do you believe that he had anything to do with producing or generating those results or those numbers, or the actual data that the Board was able to collect? Mr. Musick?


Mr. Musick. You have a two-part question.


Mr. Ford. No, it is one part. Do you think he manipulated the data?


Mr. Musick. One, I do not. This is the reading report on the desk here. There is no way anyone could have presented all the data.


Mr. Ford. Do you think he had anything to do with manipulating, putting together the data, or collecting the data?


Mr. Musick. No.


Mr. Ford. Mr. Forgione, do you think the Vice President had anything to do with the big book you just raised there?


Mr. Forgione. Absolutely not.


Mr. Ford. Okay. Now, we talk about politicizing. The politicizing we are talking about he put, for lack of a better word, his spin on the report that you guys released. Now I can assure you, you are going to get 435 different spins here. You are going to get the number of Members on this Committee to spin, which we do all the time. Why are we acting surprised that the Vice President might have a different perspective on these numbers than Mr. Hoekstra or myself, or Mr. Roemer or Mr. Castle? It is a little bit surprising.


Are you surprised that maybe two different people, particularly folks who have different political philosophies, might interpret that data differently?


Mr. Forgione. No, I am not surprised.


Mr. Ford. Are you surprised, Mr. Musick?


Mr. Musick. No.


Mr. Ford. Do you guys find yourselves interpreting things differently in your office, the times you are able to interact on issues?


Mr. Forgione. We don't interpret.


Mr. Ford. Do you disagree ever, you and Mr. Musick?


Mr. Forgione. Seriously, we give you the trusted data and allow you to make it. The Governing Board can interpret. It is not a function of a statistical agency to make those judgments.


Mr. Ford. So in light of what you have just said, if you were able to have spoken first at this event which we are so concerned about, and I do hope that someone is trying to find out the name of the Protocol Director and the Scheduler to make sure we don't have this problem again with the White House, what is it that you would have said differently? Since you can't interpret the data, how would you have presented the data any differently than the Vice President?


Mr. Forgione. I would have presented you the full set of data. Again, I give you the analogue: Would you be comfortable with a political official releasing the unemployment rate or the Consumer Price Index? That release is important. It goes to integrity and independence. It may just be a procedural activity, but it is much more than that. You created a statistical agency because you want…


Mr. Ford. Why did you put it out on the Internet?


Mr. Forgione. The Vice President didn't get this on the Internet.


Mr. Ford. He could have conceivably gotten it across the Internet, because you put it out. You released it electronically.


Mr. Forgione. This was the event the press was coming to, and education groups trying to see have our children made progress? A very important social indicator. That has to go out completely and carefully.


Mr. Ford. Did you put it out electronically completely?


Mr. Forgione. Absolutely. The whole document. But it is not easy to get the message out of this big document that you can get from a clear statement by someone. Don't underestimate your power and the power of officials. That is the organization. I believe the Governing Board has solved this for NAEP and I hope you will solve it for the rest of NCES.


Mr. Ford. Thank you. I would say to my friend Mr. Hoekstra, thank you for 2-1/2 hours. I hope we get the same amount of time to deal with Conyers, Georgia and hope we get the same amount of time with a reasonable discussion with Juvenile Justice here in this Congress very soon.


Mr. Castle. Would the gentleman yield, in fairness, Harold?


Mr. Ford. Absolutely, Mr. Castle.


Mr. Castle. Because now you are getting into areas that concern me, because we have had substantial Hearings and Markups of Juvenile Justice and on the issues of violence. I don't want to give anyone the impression that this is the only thing we are focusing on.


Mr. Ford. Mr. Castle, you know as well as I do sir, that we have not been able to bring it to the Floor because your leadership has not agreed to bring it to the Floor.


Mr. Castle. I do know that. I am just suggesting probably too much time has been applied to it. I would love to get it to the Floor. So would you, probably.


Mr. Ford. We have had one Hearing sir, to my recollection, where we invited the young people to come in and give us their thoughts and ideas on this issue. I would hope that that would not be only one, because I think you and I agree on the severity and gravity of this problem.


Mr. Castle. There were three Hearings on that by the way, not one Hearing.


Mr. Ford. We have lost more children in school hallways and cafeterias and school yards in the last 60 days than we have in the entire Balkan conflict, Mr. Castle, Governor. I would hope that three Hearings, as many Hearings as Mr. Burton had to get to the bottom of the campaign finance mess, as many Hearings as we had to get to the bottom of the Teamsters mess. I think we owe it to our children to have a few more Hearings on this issue, and perhaps to urge the Leadership on both sides to rush this matter to the Floor, to allow discussion on these and other germane issues as it relates to children.


The Vice President has been discussed fully today. Hopefully our children will have an opportunity to be heard in the coming weeks. With that, I yield back.


Chairman Hoekstra. You yield back your time, great. Do you have a closing comment Mr. Roemer?


Mr. Roemer. Do I have a closing comment? Yes. I would just say, Mr. Chairman, that first of all Mr. Castle and I have worked on a host of things together in a bipartisan way passing the education flexibility bill. You and I have worked together in a host of different ways. We have done a Hearing in Chicago on Public School Reform and the successes in public school reform. We are cooperating together on the Prison Industry Reform, and I would hope that those efforts would not only continue but be a priority in this Congress. I hope that we would continue to have field Hearings in places like Paducah and Pearl and Jonesboro and see what these communities have done in light of the terrible violence that has taken place in those communities so that we can visit with sensitivity, with bold ideas, with ideas for parents to get more involved, with ideas for school discipline, and with ideas for media violence.


And, yes, maybe guns are a part of it. Maybe gun safety for children is part of the solution. Guns wouldn't be in my top 3 of 4, but it would be something that I hope we address soon in the United States Congress.


I don't think that we can have a more important thing to address in this Nation with the oversight of this important Committee that has the ability to go in and see under your Leadership a host of different things on oversight and investigations: school safety, school violence, how we use the bully pulpit to try to keep our families together. We can't legislate that. How we try to maybe embarrass our media companies into doing less of the video games that are so destructive for some of the young people. We probably can't legislate that with the first amendment.


If we could spend a day on the House Floor on an emergency supplemental for our troops overseas, I think we can spend weeks and months on what is the most important thing in the country right now to the business community, to the unions, to the people, to the farmers, that we need to address public education reform and school safety.


We now have the confluence of two issues coming together in this country: Bold public school reform and school safety. Gallop polls across the country are seeing 10 and 15 and 20 percent increases in the amount of concern expressed by parents that they don't feel that their kids are safe in American schools anymore.


It seems to me that that is the most important issue we can face in this country, along with public school reform. I would hope that under your Leadership and Mr. Castle's leadership, people that we have worked with before on these issues, that we will get to those issues as quickly and thoroughly and for as long as it takes to address in bipartisan and substantive and thorough ways, some answers to these very deep and difficult questions that the American people are asking us. There is nothing more important right now.


I would thank you for your indulgence with that statement.


Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you.

Mr. Forgione, Mr. Musick, thank you very much for being here. I can tell you that Mr. Castle and I and this Subcommittee, at least on its Majority side, applaud your efforts and your vigilance recognizing that your credibility and the credibility of the data that you provide is only as good as the perception that you are working independently in providing us data that reflects that independence. I am sorry for some of the inferences today that maybe that independence is not necessarily all that important, or that this data can be used and can be politicized. As we go through and Mr. Castle goes through the reauthorization of these programs next year, you can be sure that we will probably institutionalize and legislate a greater degree of independence. We will take a look at some of the other data-gathering agencies of the Federal Government and see how they are protected.


So rather than moving in a direction that potentially politicizes these events in the future, we give you a greater degree of independence to do the job as you best see fit. That is the direction. That is the commitment that I will make to you and I believe we will see in the legislation that Mr. Castle will shepherd through his Subcommittee and through the Committee and through the House.

Thank you very much for being here today. There may be some questions yet which we haven't had time to ask. I would like to submit those questions in writing so that we can insert your responses as part of the record. Without objection, so ordered.




Chairman Hoekstra. The Subcommittee will be adjourned.


Whereupon, at 12 noon, the Subcommittee was adjourned.