"Student testing in American schools is at a critical juncture," according to the American Association of School Administrators, which has prepared a policy guide on key testing issues.
The 17-page pamphlet, "Testing: Where We Stand," argues that criterion-referenced tests should be "more reportable to the public"; that truth-in-testing legislation "will neither improve tests nor make them fairer"; and that districts should not aim their instruction at a particular standardized test.
In addition, the association warns against unfair comparisons of test results, and calls for "vigilance" to ensure that attempts to make testing more systematic do not lead to a national curriculum.
The report notes that data from any type of testing can be misused, and can lead to inappropriate educational decisions about students and misguided policy. "Therefore," it concludes, "school leaders must ensure that tests are properly administered, scored, and interpreted, no matter what type of test is used."
Copies of the pamphlet are available for $2.75 each by writing aasa Publications, 1801 North Moore St., Arlington, Va. 22209-9988, or by calling (703) 528-0700.
Prospective college students can earn college credit in public speaking by taking a new examination developed by the Educational Testing Service.
The test, known as "Principles of Public Speaking," requires students to take an 84-question multiple-choice test and to write and record a three- to five-minute speech.
Part of the dantes program, a series of some 50 examinations originally developed for use by the U.S. armed services, the public-speaking test has been approved by the American Council on Education as worthy of college-level credit. Students should consult colleges and universities to determine if they accept the examination for credit.
In a related development, the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory has produced a "consumer's guide" for tests of students' listening and speaking skills.
"Assessing Communication Competence in Speaking and Listening" analyzes some 60 tests, tools, and models designed to assess students' abilities in those areas. While most tests measure "linguistic competence," such as sentence structure and grammar, said the author, Judith Arter, only a handful attempt to measure how children "do in a communications context."
Copies of the 134-page guide are available for $9.75 each from the nwrel Office of Marketing, 101 S.W. Main, Suite 500, Portland, Ore. 97204.