News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
Federal Student-Aid Services To Go Online
Students at a handful of postsecondary schools will be able to monitor their federal financial-aid accounts via the World Wide Web for the first time next fall, thanks to a pilot program designed to streamline the aid process.
Access America for Students, announced this month by Vice President Al Gore, will enable participants to apply for federal aid and receive notices of their qualification for assistance, request address changes and passports, and file taxes online. The program will even allow students to register for campsite permits on federal land.
Six schools are slated to participate in the pilot program: DeVry Institute of Technology in Illinois, New York University in New York City, Tarrant County Junior College in Texas, the University of Florida in Gainesville, the University of Missouri at Kansas City, and the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. The Department of Education plans to get 50 schools into the program by 2000 and hopes to make the service available to all students with Internet access by 2001.
NAGB Revises Contract for National Testing
The board overseeing President Clinton's national testing initiative has cut spending on it by more than half since Congress scaled the program back last fall.
The National Assessment Governing Board renegotiated its contract with the American Institutes of Research so the Washington-based group and its partners can continue crafting items that may appear on the tests. But AIR will not proceed as originally planned with pilot- and field-testing. The fiscal 1999 contract is for $5.1 million, NAGB said last week.
Under a spending law Mr. Clinton signed in October, Congress barred any pilot- or field-testing during this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. But it allows test questions to be written for the proposed 4th grade reading and 8th grade mathematics assessments. ("National Tests, Albeit Weaker, Survive Attack," Oct. 28, 1998.)
The revised contract calls for AIR and the test publishers working with it to write 1,900 test items to be available if Congress permits pilot-testing in fiscal 2000.
--David J. Hoff
Vol. 18, Issue 20, Page 18