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Contract for Assessment Again Awarded to E.T.S.

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Washington--The Education Department has renewed its contract with the Educational Testing Service to run the National Assessment of Educational Progress for the next 30 months, department officials said last week.

The $10.8-million contract, which will extend through March 31, 1990, will enable the ets to begin planning for a major expansion of the assessment proposed by a blue-ribbon panel on naep last spring, the officials said.

The work conducted under the new contract will be "a bridge to the next era," in which naep would provide state-by-state student-achievement data, explained Emerson J. Elliott, director of the department's Center for Education Statistics.

Naep is expected to conduct an expanded assessment of one subject in one grade--probably 12th-grade mathematics--in 1990, and, depending on the outcome of legislation currently pending in the Congress, will further expand its testing in subsequent years, Mr. Elliott said.

Under the contract, the ets will conduct the 1988 assessment in reading, writing, civics, and history, and will plan for the 1990 assessments.

The contract calls for the Princeton, N.J.-based testing service to report data from the assessments more quickly than in the past, and provides a greater role for educators in planning the tests.

In addition, the contract specifies that a new group be established to advise the test-maker on ways to analyze the results. Members of the group "will be able to explain things policymakers are interested in, such as what are the reasons for differences," Mr. Elliott said.

Created in 1969, naep is a Congressionally mandated program to test students regularly in reading, writing, mathematics, and other subjects. Last March, a blue-ribbon commission appointed by Secretary of Education William J. Bennett proposed expanding the assessment to test more students in more core subjects, as well as to provide state-by-state data. Legislation to implement the panel's recommendations is pending in the Congress. (See Education Week, Sept. 30, 1987.)

Until 1983, naep was administered by the Education Commission of the States. The ets has administered the program, known as "the nation's report card," since then.

Only one other group--a consortium led by the Hudson Institute--bid on the new contract.


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