A.S.C.D.'s Board Signals Opposition To National Tests

By Robert Rothman — March 27, 1991 1 min read

The board of directors of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development this month sent a strong signal that it would oppose national tests and a national curriculum.

Surveyed at the association’s annual meeting in San Francisco, more than three-fourths of the 200-member board--the ascd’s policymaking body--said they do not favor the administration of a common national examination or set of exams. Only 8 percent said they would favor such a test, the survey found.

The poll, part of a series of efforts the association is undertaking to gauge members’ opinions on an issue that has risen rapidly up the education agenda, also found that 60 percent of the board members said they opposed establishing a process that “would designate what all U.S. students are expected to know and be able to do in major subject areas.”

But the board members left open the possibility of setting national achievement standards against which student performance could be gauged. Some 44 percent of the board members said they favored such standards; 39 percent said they opposed them.

Gordon Cawelti, executive director of the ascd, said the results clearly indicate that “people don’t cotton much to the notion of having another test.”

“Sooner or later you raise the question, ‘How much is enough?”’ he said. “How much do we need to know?”

Mr. Cawelti added that a national test would lead to the creation of a national curriculum.

Although some educators contend that the nation already has such a curriculum, he said, “I don’t believe that at all. There is huge variation.”

“It’s not a good idea to put in a test if you don’t have agreement on what the curriculum ought to be,” he added.

In the coming months, Mr. Cawelti said, the association plans to survey its general membership on the issue of national tests, as well as hold a conference in Washington on the topic. The group will then issue a policy position, he said.

“We’re asked all the time what our organization thinks,” he said. ''We’d like to rely more and more on what our members feel, who are out in schools.”

A version of this article appeared in the March 27, 1991 edition of Education Week as A.S.C.D.'s Board Signals Opposition To National Tests