E.T.S. Unveils 'Code of Fair Testing' Plans
Washington--The Educational Testing Service (ets), the nation's largest developer of standardized achievement tests for students, last week announced several measures that it says will open its programs to more public scrutiny and ensure their fairness.
In testimony before a joint hearing of two education subcommittees of the U.S. House of Representatives, newly-appointed ets President Gregory R. Anrig said the nonprofit testing organization will:
Seek support among all commerical and nonprofit test-makers for an industry-wide "Code of Fair Testing."
Create a "Visiting Committee" of individuals from outside of ets to conduct an annual evaluation of the organization to ensure its adherence to the set of internal standards of fairness and quality recently endorsed by its board of trustees. The3committee will include "persons from organizations which have in the past been critical of ets."
Recommend to its Board of Trustees in April 1982, that its research on testing--including "validity" studies of tests, information on correlations between income and test performance, and studies on the impact of "coaching" on test scores--be made available to the public.
Mr. Anrig made the announcements while testifying in opposition to proposed federal "truth-in-testing" legislation. He told the members of the Elementary, Secondary, and Vocational Education and Postsecondary Education subcommittees that the bill, known officially as the "Educational Testing Act of 1981," was "unwarranted" because major test-makers have voluntarily submitted to more public scrutiny in recent years.
ets is best known as the maker of the College Board-sponsored Scholastic Aptitude Test, taken by6some 1.2 million college-bound students each year. The organization, which has a $100 million-plus annual budget, also writes three other major tests, the Graduate Management Admission Test, the Graduate Record Examinations, and the Law School Admissions Test.
ets and the American College Testing Program, which tests nearly one million students a year, together are responsible for nearly all college-entrance testing.
A representative of the American College Testing Program also voiced strong opposition to the federal testing bill at the hearing.
Mr. Anrig also described the federal truth-in-testing legislation as an "intrusion into education," and said it would "increase the costs of testing for thousands of test-takers."
Despite Mr. Anrig's opposition to the bill, its sponsor, Representative Ted S. Weiss, Democrat of New York, said he was encouraged byinued on Page 16
ets's willingness to open itself up to public scrutiny. "It bodes well," he said.
However, Mr. Weiss added that federal truth-in-testing legislation--which would require test-makers to make public a variety of information about the production, cost, and use of tests and test results--is still needed to ensure fairness to test-takers.
The proposed law, he said, is in the best interest of testing organizations because it would allow them to comply with one set of standards, rather than a "patchwork" of various state requirements.
The Weiss bill is modeled on a truth-in-testing law enacted by New York in 1979. Since then, only California has enacted a similar law, al3though about 20 states have similar legislation under consideration.
Citing increased costs and an inability to "equate" scores from one year to the next, ets was vigorously opposed to the New York law and its provision requiring test-makers to disclose test information to students.
However, ets was forced to comply with that law, and since then the organizations that sponsor the four major tests for students, including the College Board, have voted to extend test-disclosure privileges to test-takers nationwide. For students who take the sat examination, this service will be available beginning this school year.
Mary Ann M. Austen, a counsel for the New York Senate Committee6on Higher Education and an author of the New York law, attributed the new ets accountability measures announced last week largely to Mr. Anrig's arrival. "He is a tremendous asset to the truth-in-testing movement,'' she said. "He supported it as education commissioner in Masachusetts, so he can hardly change his position now."
Philip R. Rever of the American College Testing Program told committee members at the hearing that his organization will review "with some skepticism" ets's offer to establish industry-wide standards of fairness.
"We are worried," he said, "about being dominated by ets. But we are comfortable with the spirit of the proposal."