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Testing Column

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The push by states to adopt competency tests for practicing teachers is grinding to a halt, according to the National Education Association.

In the current issue of its membership newspaper, NEA Today, the union notes that four years after the first statewide teacher-competency law was passed, "politicians are no longer promoting such statutes as a cure-all for education problems.''

According to the union, no state has enacted laws requiring competency tests for practicing teachers since 1985. Only Arkansas, Georgia, and Texas now have such tests.

"What happened?'' the article asks. "Just what opponents of teacher-competency testing predicted all along. The tests have turned out to be wasteful exercises that demoralize teachers while adding little, if anything, to the quality of education.''


Fourteen national organizations are working together to develop standards that state departments of education, school districts, and others could use to assess their programs for evaluating teachers and other school personnel.

The American Federation of Teachers, the American Psychological Association, and the National School Boards Association, among other groups, are sponsoring the work of the Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation, which last month held hearings across the country on the proposed standards.

Daniel L. Stufflebeam, chairman of the committee and director of the evaluation center at Western Michigan University, said the group will meet in July to determine whether, based on results from the hearings and from field tests, the standards are ready to be published.

"There have been many developments in personnel evaluation over the last four or five years,'' he said, "and many of these have been divisive.''

"The 14 professional societies thought that something constructive could be done by developing standards'' to guide future efforts, Mr. Stufflebeam said.


A plan by the Educational Testing Service to double the office space on its 370-acre campus in Princeton, N.J., is running into local opposition.

The proposal to add nearly 450,000 square feet of offices has triggered local criticism, because the E.T.S. does not immediately need the space, but would rent it out for the next 14 years.

Local citizens charge that it is wrong for the E.T.S. to rent out the office space in an area zoned for research and development.

According to David J. Brodsky, an executive vice president for the E.T.S., the company would lease the space to "people who have research-and-development components to their businesses.''

"We're not looking for a variance or a change or anything,'' he said. "We intend to do it within the [current] zoning, and the Lawrence Township attorney has ruled'' that is allowable.

The nonprofit organization proposes building the offices by drawing on a $54-million fund balance.--L.O.

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