Test Developer Wins Contract for 1992 NAEP Standards

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WASHINGTON--The governing board of the National Assessment of Educational Progress has awarded a $1.3-million contract to American College Testing to develop standards for the 1992 NAEP assessments, the panel announced last week.

Under the contract, the Iowa City-based firm, which administers the widely used college-admissions test, will recommend to the board what students in grades 4, 8, and 12 should know and be able to do in mathematics, reading, and writing.

The contract could enable the board to avoid some of the controversy that dogged the first standards-setting process, which took place over the past year, according to Roy E. Truby, executive director of the National Assessment Governing Board.

The N.A.G.B. last week released the results of that process, which found that fewer than 20 percent of students attained the "proficient" level of achievement in math. (See Education Week, Oct. 2, 1991 .)

By beginning now, Mr. Truby said, the A.C.T. can obtain considerable input from teachers, subjectmatter experts, parents, and the general public.

At the same time, he noted, the A.C.T.'S expertise in measurement could help ensure that the process passes muster in the technical community.

Several experts had sharply criticized the math standards-setting process, and said that the results may not accurately reflect student performance in the subject.

Mr. Truby also noted that the contract with the A.c.T. demonstrates that the board considers the initial effort a trial, since the firm will develop new standards for mathematics. The board will have the option of maintaining the first set of standards or scrapping them in favor of the new ones.

"Whether or not the '90 [standards] become a baseline depends on the new achievement levels," he said.

In a separate development, the board has also awarded a $96,000 contract to the College Board to develop specifications for test items for the 1994 math assessment.

'In Line With N.C.T.M.'

Although NAEP substantially revised its math assessment in 1990, the new contract would help ensure that the test items reflect its objectives, Mr. Truby said.

He noted that, with the College Board project, the 1994 test is likely to be closer than the 1990 version to the standards for math education developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

"When the math framework was developed, in 1988, the N.C.T.M. standards were only in draft form, and they weren't out in the schools much at that time," Mr. Truby said. The contract "will probably result in bringing the assessment more in line with the N.C.T.M."

Vol. 11, Issue 06, Page 9

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