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Group To Help States Develop Alternate Tests

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In an effort to help states that are developing or plan to develop new forms of student tests, the Council of Chief State School Officers has formed an interstate consortium on alternative assessments.

Funded in part by a $50,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the consortium will enable states to collaborate in solving some of the technical issues associated with the assessments, according to Ramsay W. Selden, director of the state education-assessment center of the CCSSO

In addition, he said, the consortium will serve as a clearinghouse for information on states' efforts in developing new measures of student abilities.

"We'll work out ways of sharing effort," Mr. Selden said. "We can conduct studies, and get background work done."

"I anticipate the consortium could lead to pooled projects and exercises, and exchanges between states," he added.

Mr. Selden said officials of the CCSSO would discuss the consortium's activities at the annual meeting of state testing directors, which is scheduled . At least 30 states have already tentatively indicated that they are interested in joining the consortium, he noted.

He added that the Education Commission of the States, which is collaborating on the project along with the University of California at Los Angeles, may also hold a conference for participating states. UCLA directs the federal research center on assessment, evaluation, and testing.

Mr. Selden noted that the growing involvement of commercial publishers in alternative assessments may make it difficult for states to share information. Some educators have noted with concern, for example, that Arizona's recent contract with the Riverside Publishing Company to develop a new statewide assessment grants the company the copyright on the test materials. (See Education Week, Sept. 12, 1990.)

"In establishing contracts for development work," Mr. Selden said, "if you want to share your products later, you have to establish the copyright issues early on."--RR

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