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NAEP Board Reconvenes Standards-Setting Group

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Washington--Saying that the panelists need more time to discuss their results, the National Assessment Governing Board has reconvened the group that met last month to set the first national standards for student achievement.

The 71-member panel of educators, business representatives, and public officials, despite expressing doubts about the process, met for two days in Vermont to determine, for the first time, what students at three levels of achievement should know and be able to do. (See Education Week, Sept. 5, 1990.)

But Roy E. Truby, executive staff director of the governing board, said the rushed schedule for the Vermont meeting did not allow the panelists time to complete the standard-setting process, and he invited them to Washington Sept. 29 and 30 to finish the job.

"We felt that this was one of the most important standard-setting activities ever done," he said. "We wanted to give them as much time as we could, even if it meant calling everyone back."

Mr. Truby acknowledged that the additional session may set back the board's plan to put the standards in place by November. But, he said, ''The highest priority is to do it right."

At their original meeting, the panelists analyzed questions on the 1990 National Assessment of Educational Progress test in mathematics to determine whether students at the "basic," "proficient," and "advanced" levels of performance in grades 4, 8, and 12 should be able to answer them correctly. They then discussed their results in small groups.

But the groups did not have an opportunity to discuss their findings with other groups that analyzed questions from the same grade level, Mr. Truby said. Such a step is crucial, he said, since the panelists represented such diverse points of view.

Perhaps most importantly, he added, the panelists did not confer with groups examining tests from other grade levels.

"The issue of coherence and consistency across the three grades is important," Mr. Truby said. "It wouldn't make much sense if what is considered 'basic' at the 8th grade is as high or higher than what is 'basic' in grade 12."--rr

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