Goals Panel To Survey State Assessments, Ask For More NAEP Data

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As part of its efforts to track progress toward the eight national education goals, the National Education Goals Panel is compiling a survey of what each state is doing to measure the academic achievement of its students.

The progress report, possibly the first-ever inventory of statewide academic assessments, will include some test results, said Ken Nelson, the executive director of the panel, an 18-member, bipartisan group of governors and other state and federal officials created in 1990.

The group met here Feb. 3 in conjunction with the winter meeting of the National Governors' Association.

Mr. Nelson said the data in the inventory could not be used for state-to-state comparisons because states use different kinds of test batteries. However, he said, requests directed to the panel show that there is national interest in such information.

The report is to profile each state's assessment system, describing what kinds of tests are used, how often they are administered, which grade levels are tested in which subjects, and how the state uses the results of the tests.

It will also include results from reading and mathematics assessments for one grade at each of three levels--elementary, middle school, and high school.

A draft is expected to be ready for the national education summit the nation's governors are planning for March 26-27. (See story, page 1.) A final report would be published later in the spring.

NAEP Requests

The goals panel also plans to ask the Department of Education to help it obtain more student-achievement data.

The panel wants the National Center for Education Statistics to administer the National Assessment of Educational Progress in math--at both the national and state levels--once more between this year's testing and 2000. The 1996 test is too far from the target year of 2000 to use it to gauge whether the national goal related to math achievement has been met, members of the panel decided.

NAEP, which has been administered to samples of students in various subjects since 1969, is the nation's only ongoing assessment of academic achievement. Officials are to decide later this year what tests will be given in 1998, NAEP's next scheduled testing cycle.

The goals panel also labeled as high priorities for data collection a state-level NAEP test in 1998 for reading, at least for grade 4, and a state-level science assessment, which the panel would like to see administered in at least grades 4 and 8 before 2000.

The goals panel has also decided to publish only a summary and a "core report" on the national goals this year. The $400,000 cost of the two additional volumes included in the panel's 1995 progress report--which offered more detailed national and state-level data--was the overriding factor in that decision, Mr. Nelson said.

The panel, which is operating with just 75 percent funding because of the federal budget impasse, has cut its Washington staff from 12 to six and moved to smaller quarters.

Vol. 15, Issue 21

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