An education writer for the Los Angeles Times advised how to make assessments believable to the public at a conference this month called "Moving Up to Complex Assessment Systems." The National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing, or CRESST, sponsored the event at the University of California at Los Angeles.
Richard Colvin told attendees that a statewide program must pass several taxpayer tests. He called one the "Is this what I learned in school?" test. Parents and others want useful material on the test--content that parents can recognize as valuable. Another is the "You do your job, and I'll do mine" test. Parents feel it's their job to teach children to be persistent and flexible, so they do not want tests trying to measure such traits.
In addition, Mr. Colvin said, the test results must be straightforward enough that they can be explained in a medium-sized newspaper article--the place where many people will get their only information about the test.
Also at the CRESST conference, the new commissioner of the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics, Pascal Forgione Jr., made one of his first public appearances since taking office this summer.
Mr. Forgione, formerly the state schools superintendent in Delaware, outlined plans for undertaking the redesign of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which is conducted by his center. The overhaul was approved last month by the governing board that sets policy for NAEP, which measures students' academic achievement. ("NAEP Redesign Seeks To Curb Costs, Improve Usefulness," Sept. 4, 1996.)
Mr. Forgione said the center is ready to draw up a grants announcement inviting proposals on ways to implement the NAEP redesign, which is aimed at improving the 27-year-old program's cost-effectiveness and usefulness. Proposals would be accepted beginning in the fall, and the award of grants would be made in February.
Between January and June of next year, the NCES plans to sponsor at least four forums to get input from researchers, educators, and policymakers on strategies for implementing the NAEP redesign. Also next year, the statistics center will conduct a scientific survey of states, school districts, and others on issues related to the NAEP.
--MILLICENT LAWTON firstname.lastname@example.org