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Hawkins Drafting Measure on Student Assessment

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Washington--The chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee said last week he is drafting legislation to encourage schools to improve the way they measure student performance.

Citing a recent Ford Foundation-funded study of standardized testing, Augustus F. Hawkins said at a hearing that current tests often provide a misleading picture of student abilities. (See Education Week, May 30, 1990.)

Although he declined to say how his legislation would address the problem, an aide said the bill may include programs to train teachers on using tests as diagnostic tools to improve instruction.

Mr. Hawkins said the proposal would be added to the omnibus education bill the committee is currently considering. "The omnibus approach to education reform will be an obvious failure if we do not the address the issue" of assessment, he argued.

The California Democrat also indicated that he would be reluctant to expand the National Assessment of Educational Progress as long as it relies on traditional multiple-choice formats.

But Ramsay W. Selden, director of the state education-assessment center of the Council of Chief State School Officers, told lawmakers that the framework for the 1992 reading assessment suggests that naep is moving to incorporate new ways of measuring student abilities.

"We cannot have state-by-state results on tests that do not tap the full potential of kids," Mr. Selden said. "But the 1992 reading test is ahead of where we know instruction is. It's where we want to go, not where we are now."--rr

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