ERIC Number: ED458214
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2001-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
The Debate over National Testing. ERIC Digest.
This digest presents various views of the federal role in testing and offers a brief examination of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the "nation's report card," in its national sample format and its state administration, which critics fear has the potential to become a de facto national test if selected as the basis for comparing state tests. The question of the appropriate role of the federal government in testing is complicated and has strong political overtones. Some policymakers oppose a national test on the grounds that it would eventually result in a national curriculum. Other policymakers are suspicious about whether national testing would lead to genuine improvement and higher student achievement, or whether it would merely sort out and penalize low-performing schools and the students in them. Federally mandated testing also raises questions of cost, technical expertise, validity, and linking of test results. The NAEP assessment is administered annually to a nationally representative sample of students in grades 4, 8, and 12 to get a picture of what U.S. students know and can do. Two subjects are typically assessed each year, with reading, mathematics, writing, and science assessed most frequently. Once exclusively multiple choice, the NAEP now contains performance-based items that call for students to apply their skills. Legislation now being debated calls for the use of the NAEP or another nationally administered test as a check on the results of annual state tests. In theory, a state-level NAEP would yield useful data, but in reality state-level NAEP results have been confusing because achievement levels of students appear to be lower on the NAEP than on the state tests, for various reasons. It is difficult to predict how the national testing issue will ultimately be resolved, especially in light of the Bush administration's calls for expanding testing and giving the NAEP a more prominent role, but teachers should stay active in the discussion about national testing. (SLD)
Descriptors: Academic Achievement, Achievement Tests, Elementary Secondary Education, Federal Government, Government Role, National Competency Tests, Performance Based Assessment, Politics, Test Construction, Test Use
ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation, 1129 Shriver Laboratory, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742-3742. Tel: 800-464-3742 (Toll Free).
Publication Type: ERIC Publications; ERIC Digests in Full Text
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation, Washington, DC.
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: National Assessment of Educational Progress