Update on Testing and Assessment Policy

Goals 2000

Among the various changes that the 104th Congress would like to make to Goals 2000, Sen. Nancy Kassebaum (R-KS) introduced an amendment that calls for the elimination of the National Education Standards and Improvement Council (NESIC). The new Congress also wants to reduce overall funding for Goals 2000 education initiatives, which would reduce the amount of federal funding states receive for education.

NESIC was sanctioned by the Goals 2000 legislation to oversee the development and implementation of national standards and assessments in education. The dissatisfaction with NESIC's proposed role relates to the issue of whether national standards are voluntary. Sen. Kassebaum is against national standards because she believes they reflect a federally mandated curriculum. The House has responded to these concerns by scheduling a hearing to debate whether national standards in education are desirable. The National Education Goals Panel (NEGP), which was also sanctioned by Goals 2000, has vowed to continue to assist states in implementing national standards, even if Congress refuses to support such efforts.

Also mandated by Goals 2000, the National Skill Standards Board is beginning to take shape. The Board has a charge similar to NESIC's, but involves the development and implementation of standards and certification assessments in industry. Thus far, the new Congress has not voiced concerns about this part of Goals 2000.

Elementary and Secondary Education Authorization (ESEA)

The U. S. Department of Education expects to release draft regulations at the end of April for assessing students' eligibility for remedial education programs for disadvantaged students (Chapter 1 programs).

APA has long advocated for assessments to be reliable, valid, and consistent with national standards when test results are used to make decisions. APA succeeded in convincing Congress of the necessity of this for all permanent assessments, but the standards were softened for transitional assessments in order to encourage the use of new tests for research and development purposes.

Assessment results figure into a complex formula to determine the amount of funding a state receives for Chapter 1 programs, as well as whether individual children are in need of Chapter 1 services. APA will reiterate its earlier message to Congress regarding the importance of relying on technically sound (i.e., reliable and valid) information.

Employment Selection Policy

The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) and the Department of Education have established a joint task force to develop guidelines for state employees on complying with civil rights legislation on employee selection. The task force has asked APA to assist them with those guidelines involving the use of tests and assessments. The collaboration is preliminary, but APA expects to participate in a conference by sponsoring industrial psychologists as subject experts.
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