ESEA Signed Into Law

The Elementary, Secondary Education Authorization (ESEA) bill, which reauthorizes 'chapter one' programs for disadvantaged children, has now been signed into law by President Clinton. Originally authorized in 1965, chapter one programs provide educational services to disadvantaged children from low-income families who do not need special education, but who would benefit from some remediation. The programs rely in part on the use of standardized tests to identify such children and to justify requests for federal funding.

Title I of ESEA calls for the use of multiple measures and for tests to be used for purposes for which they are reliable and valid. These technical requirements parallel those that were included in the Goals 2000 legislation for educational assessments.

During mark-up hearings, the Senate softened the requirements for interim or transitional assessments, so that they could be used until permanent assessments are on-line. The Senate believed that the only way to allow states to develop new assessments was to have them implemented before evidence of reliability and validity was established. Despite attempts by APA, the American Educational Research Association, Rep. Ted Strickland (D-OH), and the Department of Education's Chapter One Commission to convey the importance of using only reliable and valid measures for decision-making purposes, the Senate insisted on softening the requirements.

The Department of Education issued a request for comments on its regulations for ESEA Title I in the October 28, 1994, Federal Register. APA's Committee on Psychological Tests and Assessment provided recommendations to the Department in late November. The Department expects to establish an advisory group, composed of individuals who respond to the Federal Register announcement.

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