THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
National Research Council
Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
Board on Testing and Assessment
September 1 - 2, 1998
In response to a congressional request in PL 105-78, three studies were undertaken by the National Research Council on the issue of National Testing. As a result the following reports were released:
High Stakes: Testing for Tracking, Promotion, and Graduation, a report completed by the Committee on Appropriate Test Use, said that test results should not be the only basis for deciding which classes a student takes or what curriculum to teach, whether a student will advance to the next grade, or whether the student will be able to graduate. Other factors -- including grades and teacher recommendations -- also should be considered. Moreover, the report said, schools should eliminate "low-track" classes that typically do not provide challenging instruction and often are led by the least-experienced teachers.
Evaluation of the Voluntary National Tests: Phase 1, a report completed by a team of principal investigators, said that the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) is on the right track in developing questions for the Department of Education's voluntary national tests, but recommends that NAGB move quickly to reach decisions about how to score the tests, and in what form scores will be given to students, parents, and other users. NAGB also should move quickly to address the inclusion of students with disabilities and students who are English-language learners, both issues which have important implications for test design and accuracy.
Uncommon Measures: Equivalence and Linkage Among Educational Tests, a follow-up to an interim report released in June by the Research Council's Committee on Equivalency and Linkage of Educational Tests, concluded that one proposed alternative to national testing -- linking the results of existing commercial and state tests and providing comparable information about achievement of students taking different tests in different parts of the country -- is generally not feasible.
Briefings were held for Members of Congress and/or congressional staff on September 1-2, 1998. The reports were publicly released on September 3, 1998 and can be found, in their entireties, on the Web site of the National Academies Press.