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International Assessment Of Schools Is Endorsed

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Washington--An Education Department initiative to increase the scope and comparability of educational assessments worldwide has been endorsed by international committees, clearing the way for more detailed work on ways to compare educational systems across national boundaries.

At a December meeting in Paris, two education panels of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development approved summaries of a Washington conference on education indicators and a tentative plan for proceeding with the project.

"The important thing is that, finally, although this has been a U.S. initiative and will continue to be a U.S. initiative, other countries are interested to the extent that they will be taking action themselves," said Stewart Tinsman, director of the international-affairs staff in the Education Department's office of intergovernmental and interagency affairs.

Department officials said they initiated the effort and sponsored the first conference because valid international data are important in measuring the success or failure of4American education and in their drive to hold educators accountable for their performance. (See Education Week, Dec. 2, 1987.)

The plan endorsed in Paris calls for the o.e.c.d. to enhance its existing data-collection efforts and to work on new mechanisms to assess educational outcomes and goals.

Representatives from the organization's 24 member nations will be invited to a follow-up meeting in Paris this March, where they are expected to indicate which factors--such as curriculum content, school completion rates, or teacher qualifications--they are interested in measuring. Some nations may offer to take the lead in developing certain indicators, Mr. Tinsman said.

"That's about as much as we can say until we see what the invitations say and what the French and o.e.c.d. decide as to what the agenda will be," he said.

Of the 24 o.e.c.d. countries--all Western, developed nations--about a dozen have expressed definite interest in developing one or more assessment mechanisms, Mr. Tinsman said.--jm

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