Any national system of assessments should require test-makers to submit an “educational-impact statement’’ detailing their tests’ effects on schooling, a coalition of four dozen civil-rights and education groups argued last week.
In a letter to the Congress, which is currently debating legislation to create such a system, the groups state that “the evidence shows that educational testing is more apt to be harmful than helpful.’'
But, it states, if the Congress chooses to support the plan, it should also create safeguards to protect students and schools. These safeguards, the letter states, include ensuring that the assessments are based on broad national standards, but do not dictate curricula; that tests will not be used out of context; that the total amount of testing will be reduced; that students will be provided an opportunity to do well on the examinations; and that assessments rely on performance methods, not multiple-choice formats.
To ensure that the safeguards are met, the groups also argue that applicants for a national system of assessments should have to submit a statement modeled after the environmental-impact statements that government agencies and private developers are required to present for approval of construction projects.
The House Education and Labor Committee is expected this month to consider legislation that would create a mechanism for developing national education standards and a system of assessments to gauge student progress against the standards. The Senate approved such a proposal in January, and is expected this month to consider a revised version.
A version of this article appeared in the April 01, 1992 edition of Education Week as ‘Impact Statement’ for Tests Is Urged