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California Adopts Disclosure Law for Standdardized Test

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California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. recently signed a law that makes California the second state, after New York, to require some form of disclosure of correct answers on the standardized student-achievement tests used mainly for college admissions.

The measure applies only to two types of test--the Scholastic Aptitude Test (sat) administered by the College Entrance Examination Board (ceeb) based in New York, and the examinations prepared by the American College Testing Service (acts) which is located in Ohio.

Twenty-two states have considered legislation that would require some kind of disclosure of admissions-test answers, according to Alice J. Irby, a vice-president of Educational Testing Service (ets), the Princeton-based company that develops the sat's. But only New York and California now require "extensive disclosure," she said.

The California bill, which does not require disclosure in the case of graduate-level entrance examinations, was written by state senator Milton Marks, Republican of San Francisco. It requires that half of the two types of standardized tests administered each year be open to disclosure. (And according to an already-existing California law, the test sponsor would have to test at least 3,000 students per year for this rule to apply.)

New York's Admissions Testing Law, which took effect in January 1980, also requires disclosure of answers on graduate-level entrance examinations.

Errors Discovered

Following passage of the New York law, two incidents occurred that led the College Board to make disclosure a nationwide policy in March of 1981. Students in Florida and New York discovered errors in their exams that eventually led the testing organization to raise the scores of some 269,000 students across the country.

The increased costs resulting from disclosure have largely been passed on to test-takers.

A package of disclosure materials, which contains test questions and answers, costs $6.50. And the increased costs, brought on because ets had to begin making up to 10 new tests each year instead of the normal six or seven, was partially absorbed by the company and partially offset by a surcharge paid by New York test-takers.

Because disclosure is now policy of the College Board, the California law, which was initiated before the policy was announced, "is simply a reflection of the College Board's policy," according to Ms. Irby.

The law, however, will still affect the acts, which does not have a national disclosure policy.

The California bill originally included disclosure of graduate entrance examinations, but lobbying pressure, particularly from the California Medical Association (cma), eventually resulted in a bill amended to cover only undergraduate admissions tests.

In New York's testing law, admissions tests for graduate school are also subject to disclosure, but because of an injunction won by the American Association of Medical Colleges (aamc), test sponsors do not have to disclose medical-school test answers.

The matter is a subject of a lawsuit against the state of New York by the aamc that is languishing in a New York district court. The suit, which argues that the law is a violation of the copyright law, says that the type of material used in mcat, unlike material in the other tests, can be exhausted, so the law infringes on the medical association's ownership of the questions.

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