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Despite Riley Warning on Funds, NAEP Board Plans New Schedule

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WASHINGTON--Despite a high-level warning about the cost of such an ambitious schedule, the governing board of the National Assessment of Educational Progress voted this month to propose administering its tests annually, rather than every other year.

The unusual step, which would require Congressional approval and an increase in funding, would enable NAEP to align its tests with an international assessment of mathematics and science that is scheduled for 1995, according to board members.

"We think [alignment with the international study] is so important, we are asking to go off-schedule,'' Mark D. Musick, the president of the governing board, said at the panel's May 14 meeting here.

But Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley warned board members that budget constraints demand that the panel lower its sights.

"We probably cannot find fiscal resources for the ambitious schedule of new assessments that the N.A.G.B. has proposed,'' said Mr. Riley, a former member of the board.

The Secretary urged board members to set priorities to determine the most important subjects to assess, and to search for ways to expand the amount of information that can be gleaned from the NAEP data that already exist.

The Clinton Administration has requested $65 million for NAEP in fiscal 1994, a $36 million increase over the current year's funding. Assessing math and science in 1995 would require up to $30 million in additional funds, depending on whether the tests were conducted at the state level and on what grades were tested.

Under the proposed new schedule, NAEP would be administered in reading, geography, and U.S. history in 1994; and in math, science, and writing in 1995. To date, the Congressionally mandated assessment has administered its tests only in even-numbered years.

Spanish-Language Test

In a separate development, the NAEP governing board also approved a plan to allow Puerto Rico to administer an examination in Spanish.

The exam, which would be the first non-English test in NAEP's 24-year history, would be given in science and math in 1994. It would be paid for by Puerto Rico.

According to the governing board, officials of the commonwealth had requested the move in order to participate in NAEP, even though Puerto Rico's official language of instruction is Spanish.

Emerson J. Elliott, the commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, noted that the test would be an experiment and that it should not be considered a precedent. But, he pointed out, the center is also developing a Spanish-language exam that could be used for the Spanish-speaking population in the United States, perhaps as early as 1996.

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