N.C.E.S. Considering Proposal To Administer NAEP Annually

By Robert Rothman — March 06, 1991 2 min read

Washington--The Education Department is considering administering the National Assessment of Educational Progress annually, rather than every other year, officials said here last week.

Speaking at a meeting to discuss proposals for the 1994 and 1996 cycles for the assessment, the officials said the department may also expand state-level testing to include students at grades 4, 8, and 12 in reading and mathematics, and conduct a study of high-school seniors’ transcripts.

The proposal to test students annually--which would require approval by the Congress--is aimed at easing the administration of the assessment, according to Gary W. Phillips, acting deputy commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics.

Under the proposal, naep would administer half of the proposed 1994 battery--which is expected to include reading, mathematics, science, and American history and geography--in 1994, and the other half in 1995. The 1996 battery of reading, writing, and math would be similarly divided.

“We see a lot of merits to this,” Mr. Phillips said. “It does regularize administration and planning.”

But Rebecca Christian, testing director for the Louisiana Department of Education, urged officials of the federal department to reconsider the plan. The annual schedule, she suggested, may make it more difficult to recruit states to participate.

“I would prefer to see naep not become an annual program,” she said. “Over time, that could become problematic.”

Following the Current Design

The meeting here last week was aimed at gauging reaction from state and testing officials on the4ideas for the upcoming naep cycle before the department solicits bids to operate the assessment. The agency is expected to send out a request for proposals in June and award a contract next January.

The assessment is currently operated by the Educational Testing Service under a $58.5-million contract to the Education Department.

In many respects, the plan reflects a continuation of the way the assessment is being operated in the current cycle, Mr. Phillips said.

“We’re basically following the 1990-92 design,” he said.

One new element, he pointed out, is the proposed transcript study, which would analyze the high-school course-taking of seniors participating in the assessment. The study would enable researchers to relate course-taking to achievement, and at the same time provide reliable information on school curricula, Mr. Phillips said.

“This has never been a regular feature of national assessment,” he said. “We’d like to make it a regular feature.”

The department has also proposed in its fiscal 1992 budget to expand the state-level assessments, which will permit state-by-state comparisons of student-achievement data, Mr. Phillips said. In 1992, the state-level naep is expected to measure student abilities in reading and math in grades 4 and 8 only.

But he noted that the proposal, like several discussed at the meeting here, must be approved by the Congress, which has not yet authorized any state-level assessment beyond 1992.

“They require Congressional authorization and department approval,” he pointed out. “They have neither. But we plan taking them to groups to get their views” before the proposals are final.

A version of this article appeared in the March 06, 1991 edition of Education Week as N.C.E.S. Considering Proposal To Administer NAEP Annually