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27520 Federal Register / Vol. 64, No.

97 / Thursday, May 20, 1999 / Notices

CONTACT PERSON FOR MORE INFORMATION: provides a suggested statement of the definition of ‘‘voluntary,’’ and reporting.
Jean A. Webb, 202–418–5100. purpose, intended use, definition of the Although the legislation states that the
Jean A. Webb, term ‘‘voluntary,’’ and the means of Governing Board shall ‘‘determine’’
Secretary of the Commission. reporting results for the proposed these matters, the Governing Board
[FR Doc. 99–12869 Filed 5–8–99; 1:22 p.m.] voluntary national tests in 4th grade recognizes that this report is advisory to
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reading and 8th grade mathematics. The Congress and the President. Any final
second document, entitled ‘‘National determination on these matters will be
Assessment of Educational Progress: made in legislation enacted by Congress
COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING Design 2000–2010,’’ describes how and signed by the President.
COMMISSION improvements in the National The Act contains other provisions
Assessment of Educational Progress will related to the voluntary national test.
Sunshine Act Meeting be implemented during the 2000–2010 One provision amends the General
period. Interested individuals and Education Provisions Act, creating a
AGENCY HOLDING THE MEETING:
organizations are invited to provide new section 447, prohibiting pilot
Commodity Futures Trading written comments to the Governing testing and field testing of any federally
Commission. Board. sponsored national test unless
TIME AND DATE: 11:00 a.m. Friday, June Written Comments: Written specifically authorized in enacted
25, 1999. comments must be received by June 9, legislation. However, another provision
1999 at the following address: Mark D. permits the development of voluntary
PLACE: 1155 21st St., NW., Washington, Musick, Chairman (Attention: Ray
D.C., 9th Floor Conference. national tests, giving the National
Fields), National Assessment Governing Assessment Governing Board exclusive
STATUS: Closed. Board, 800 North Capitol Street NW, authority for such test development.
MATTERS TO BE CONSIDERED: Surveillance Suite 825, Washington, DC 20002–4233. In order to carry out the congressional
Matters. Written comments also may be assignment to prepare this report, the
CONTACT PERSON FOR MORE INFORMATION: submitted electronically by sending Governing Board had to envision a
l
Jean A. Webb, 202–418–5100. electronic mail (e-mail) to situation in which there was authority
Jean A. Webb, Ray Fields@ED.GOV by June 9, 1999. to conduct voluntary national tests,
Secretary of the Commission.
Comments sent by e-mail must be while recognizing that the Act prohibits
submitted as an ASCII file avoiding the such tests at this time. Further, the
[FR Doc. 99–12870 Filed 5–18–99; 1:22 pm]
use of special characters and any form Governing Board had to envision how
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of encryption. Inclusion in the public national testing could work, given that
record cannot be guaranteed for written schools in the United States are
COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING statements, whether sent by mail or governed by states, localities and non-
COMMISSION electronically, received after June 9, public authorities. The Governing Board
1999. attempted to answer the question: If
Sunshine Act Meeting Public Record: A record of comments there are to be voluntary national tests,
received in response to this notice will what is a feasible, coherent plan that
TIME AND DATE: 2:00 p.m., Monday, June be available for inspection from 8 a.m. would be beneficial to parents, students,
28, 1999. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and teachers? Thus, while not
PLACE: 1155 21st St., N.W., Washington, excluding legal holidays, in Suite 825, advocating for or against the voluntary
D.C., 9th Floor Conference Room. 800 North Capitol Street, NW., national test initiative, the Governing
STATUS: Closed. Washington, DC, 20002. Board interprets the congressional
MATTERS TO BE CONSIDERED: The Voluntary National Test: Purpose, assignment to be to present a sound and
Adjudicatory Matters. Intended Use, Definition of Voluntary logical case for the potential purpose
CONTACT PERSON FOR MORE INFORMATION: and Reporting and use of the voluntary national tests.
Jean A. Webb, 202–418–5100. The Act sets September 30, 1999 as
Background
Jean A. Webb, the deadline for submitting this report
Secretary of the Commission.
Purpose to Congress and the President. However,
The purpose of this report is to fulfill to assist Congress and the President in
[FR Doc. 99–12871 Filed 5–18–99; 1:22 pm]
one of the requirements of the FY 1999 deliberating on the future of the
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appropriation act for the Department of voluntary national test, help promote a
Education (the Act). Specifically, with timely decision, and avoid a full year’s
respect to the proposed voluntary delay in pilot testing should Congress
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION and the President decide to proceed
national tests in 4th grade reading and
8th grade mathematics, the Act requires with the project, the Governing Board is
National Assessment Governing Board
the National Assessment Governing submitting its report in June.
AGENCY: National Assessment Board to Report Preparation Process
Governing Board; Department of
* * * determine and clearly articulate the In November 1998, the Governing
Education. purpose and intended use of any proposed
ACTION: Notice of request for comments. federally sponsored national test. Such report Board established a special ad hoc
shall also include—(A) a definition of the committee to assist in drafting the
SUMMARY: The National Assessment meaning of the term ‘‘voluntary’’ in regards report. The committee was composed of
Governing Board requests public to the administration of any national test; and both veteran and new Board members.
comment on two draft documents it has (B) a description of the achievement levels Chaired by Michael Nettles, the
prepared for submission to Congress and reporting methods to be used in grading committee included Wilmer Cody,
and the President. The first document, any national test. Thomas Fisher, Michael Guerra, Nancy
required under section 305(c)(1) of the This report addresses the four Kopp, Debra Paulson, Diane Ravitch,
FY 1999 Omnibus Budget Act (the Act), required areas: purpose, intended use, and John Stevens.
Federal Register / Vol. 64, No. 97 / Thursday, May 20, 1999 / Notices 27521

The committee developed a plan for tomorrow. Eighth graders will be taking Johnsons obtained a special version of
preparing the report, engaging the the mathematics test. the NAEP framework, written for
Governing Board in related policy Maria started kindergarten in parents, to deepen their understanding
deliberations, and obtaining public September 2001; the first voluntary of the material covered by the test. The
comment. At the March 1999 Board national test was administered the Johnsons now had a frame of reference
meeting, the committee presented following March. That year and each for talking with Maria’s teachers in
materials that were developed for public year since, Parade magazine devoted an specific terms about the reading
comment. These included an early April article to the test. The test program and for monitoring Maria’s
explanatory statement; two possible questions were published, along with progress each year toward 4th grade
scenarios addressing purpose, use, the answers. For questions that require reading proficiency. Maria, with her
definition of voluntary, and the methods students to write their own answers, parents’ encouragement and teachers’
for reporting; and a set of questions samples of student work from the support, has worked hard in school and
related to the scenarios. The purpose of national tryout of the test the year before at home on her reading assignments and
these materials was to provide a were included to illustrate different enjoys reading on her own.
framework for public comment. They levels of student performance. These With this shared understanding and
did not represent the positions of the levels of student performance are based common language about reading
Governing Board at the time. on the achievement levels set for the proficiency, the school was helped in its
The Governing Board discussed these National Assessment of Educational efforts to involve parents. The school
materials at length, made several Progress (NAEP). Similar materials were had developed its own testing program
changes, and authorized the committee made available following each year’s to track the reading progress of each
to proceed to obtain public comment. tests in newspapers, magazines aimed at student each year toward 4th grade
The materials and an invitation to parents and teachers, on the Internet, reading proficiency. Thus, needs for
provide written comments and/or oral and on the Public Broadcasting System. extra help were identified early, in-
testimony at four public hearings during Reading and mathematics achievement depth diagnosis was provided when
March and April were disseminated. levels posters are displayed in needed, and remediation occurred
pediatrician’s offices across the country. before it was too late.
Taking the comments received into The school liked using the
January through March of each year,
account, the committee then prepared a achievement levels. They were
McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and
draft report for review at the May 1999 consistent with the state’s performance
KFC print sample test questions on
Governing Board meeting. The standards for reading. They helped keep
placemats and food containers.
Governing Board discussed and revised Maria’s school district decided to the school staff focused as they worked
the draft report and authorized the volunteer to participate in the national day-by-day, making hundreds of
committee to obtain comment on the test in 4th grade reading. The school decisions about materials, instruction,
draft report. The draft report was district administration had examined and curricula to achieve the many
disseminated by mail, on the Governing the test framework, specifications, and incremental steps needed for each
Board’s web site, and in the Federal sample test and determined that they student to progress.
Register. A hearing on the draft report were consistent with the district’s Parents and teachers also like the fact
will be conducted June 12 at the annual reading program. They knew that the that the test booklet is returned. This
Large Scale Assessment Conference results would belong to the district and permits parents and teachers to review
with state and district testing experts. the families. The federal government with the student all of the test questions
After taking the comments received would not report or maintain any of the and the student’s answers. The student
into account, the committee will data resulting from testing nor require gets reinforcement on what was done
prepare a draft report for presentation to the district to report any of the data to well. Parents and teachers can see
the Board at a special meeting on June the federal government. which questions were answered well
23. At the June 23 meeting, the Maria’s school provided copies of the and which were missed, probe the
Governing Board will discuss the draft Parade article to each of the families. In reasons why with the student, and, from
and approve a final version for the school district, the policy is for all the student’s response and other
submission to the President and students to participate in testing unless knowledge of the student, explore
Congress. a parent specifically objects. When whether advanced activities, diagnostic
Overview Maria’s parents finished reading the testing, or any other intervention should
article, they had a clear picture of what be considered.
This report is in three sections. The a proficient reader in the fourth grade Together with the on-going
first section is in the form of a story. It should know and be able to do. They assessment program and the state’s
is intended to put a ‘‘human face’’ on understood that proficiency would not standards and assessments, the school
the details in the section that follows. come overnight, but with many small and parents found that the voluntary
The second section describes the steps and that each year of school would national test adds in a unique way to the
Governing Board’s recommendations on mark progress toward the goal of range of methods for monitoring
purpose, intended use, definition of reading proficiency. Maria’s parents individual student progress. The
‘‘voluntary,’’ and reporting for the decided that having a clear goal and teachers and principals found that the
proposed voluntary national tests. The following progress toward that goal are achievement levels used to report
third section is a summary with good things to do and wanted their voluntary national test results were
recommendations. child to participate. much easier for parents to understand
Having this initial knowledge, the than percentiles, stanines, or mean
The Voluntary National Test: A Story
Johnsons wanted to learn more and did scores. Also, the voluntary national test
It is March 18; the year is 2006. their homework. They attended a provides parents and schools a single
Fourth grader Maria Johnson, along with school-sponsored seminar on the basis of comparison for individual
her classmates and many other 4th reading program. They learned what student performance across states that is
graders across the nation, will be taking they could do at home to reinforce what generally not available from classroom
the voluntary national test in reading Maria was learning in school. The developed tests or state-wide
27522 Federal Register / Vol. 64, No. 97 / Thursday, May 20, 1999 / Notices

assessments. Most of all, parents have a purpose, intended use, the definition of representative samples of students. It
clear and very specific understanding of voluntary, and means for reporting are, has done so with credibility, technical
how their child has performed in to a large degree, interdependent. A competence, and widespread
comparison to rigorous standards. change in any one of these could affect acceptance. For the last ten years, the
Although the test was designed to the others. Therefore, it is important National Assessment also has reported
provide individual results, the school that these four areas be coherent. on state-representative samples of
district has decided that it will compile In addition, the test should serve a students in volunteering states,
the individual student results that were unique purpose. If the same purpose is providing participating states with the
provided by the voluntary national already being fulfilled by another testing only available comparable measure of
testing program. The district program, there is no need for the student achievement.
administrators want to know how the voluntary national test. If the same However, the National Assessment, by
district overall compares with the purpose could easily be fulfilled by law, does not provide individual
students in the national sample who another testing program, it would be student results. It provides only group-
participated in the national trial run of prudent to consider that possibility in level results (e.g., for students overall,
the test the year before. weighing the pros and cons before by sex, by race, by type of school, etc.).
The district has joined a consortium proceeding with full implementation. The NAEP state-level assessments
of similar districts that have agreed The National Assessment Governing represented a watershed event. Ten
among themselves to follow the Board suggests that Congress and the years ago, state-level assessments were
guidelines for compiling and reporting President consider the following as the begun with fears of encroachment on
voluntary national test data developed purpose of the proposed voluntary state and local autonomy and worry that
by the National Assessment Governing national test: a national curriculum would result. The
Board (NAGB). Following these promise that the NAEP state-level
To measure individual student
guidelines ensures that the data achievement in 4th grade reading and 8th assessment program would serve a
analyses are done properly, grade mathematics, based on the content and unique function—to provide
comparisons between and among rigorous performance standards of the comparable state results, trends over
districts and schools are fair, and National Assessment of Educational Progress time, and an external validity check for
inferences about achievement are (NAEP), as set by the National Assessment state standards and assessments—has
defensible. When the district reports Governing Board (NAGB). been realized. The fears have not. This
these results to the public, it makes a big is because there are checks and balances
Rationale
point of saying that it has followed these built into the governance of the
guidelines to the letter and spirit, as a The legislation giving responsibility program.
means for establishing credibility and for voluntary national test development Today, similar fears of federal
trust. to the Governing Board does not specify encroachment and the emergence of a
The story presents one plausible or limit the subjects and grades to be national curriculum are being expressed
scenario for how the voluntary national tested. However, the accompanying about the voluntary national test and
test might be implemented in public conference report does direct that the must be addressed. As with the NAEP
schools, but other scenarios are possible tests be based on NAEP content and state assessments, checks and balances
as well. The story is focused on the NAEP performance standards and be can be provided for in the governance
future because effects of the proposed linked to NAEP to the maximum extent and operation of the voluntary national
voluntary national test would not be possible. The Governing Board in testing program to prevent these
fully achieved in its first year. But two August 1996 adopted a policy on NAEP reasonable concerns about federal
things are clear. If there is to be such a redesign. The redesign policy provides encroachment and national curricula
test, it should be made available to all for testing at grades 4, 8, and 12 at the from becoming reality.
who would find value in it, whether national level is 11 subjects and, based
state, public school, private school, on the needs and interests expressed by Definition of the Term ‘Voluntary’
home school, or individual parent. And, states, at grades 4 and 8 at the state level There are two dimensions to the
while the federal government would in reading, writing, mathematics and definition of the term ‘‘voluntary’’ as it
provide resources to make the tests science. would apply in the administration of
available, there should be no federal Grades 4, 8, and 12 are transition the voluntary national tests. The first
coercion, sanctions, or rewards for points in American schooling. dimension has to do with the role of the
participating. Consistent with the National federal government. The second
The story emphasizes that, while Assessment redesign policy and the dimension has to do with who makes
having widely recognized standards and congressional directive that the the decision to participate in the
assessments can provide focus for voluntary national tests be designed to voluntary national tests.
planning and a common language for parallel NAEP, the Governing Board
limited the test development contract to Federal Role
students, parents and teachers, what is
most important is what parents, cover grade 4 reading and grade 8 The role of the federal government in
students, and educators actually do with mathematics. Proficiency in these the proposed voluntary national tests
that knowledge. The story, implicitly, subjects, by these grades, is considered should be limited. The federal
also suggests that a wide voluntary to be fundamental to academic success. government should not make any
mobilization of private resources in Most importantly, measuring individual take the voluntary national
society reinforcing the value and individual student achievement based tests or require any school to administer
importance of learning (e.g., Parade and on the National Assessment affords this the tests. The federal government
McDonald’s) would be important. proposed testing program a unique should have no control or authority over
niche among K–12 academic testing nay data resulting from the
The Purpose of the Voluntary National programs in the United States. For 30 administration of the voluntary national
Test years, the National Assessment has tests, nor should participation in the
As the Governing Board worked on reported the status and progress of voluntary national tests be a condition
this report, it became evidence that student achievement on nationally for receiving federal funds.
Federal Register / Vol. 64, No. 97 / Thursday, May 20, 1999 / Notices 27523

The National Assessment Governing private schools and home schooling. schools are the most likely venue
Board suggests that Congress and the While provisions for who decides to through which the proposed voluntary
President consider the following as part participate should accommodate this national tests would be administered
of the definition for the term range and diversity of authority, such and that school authorities decide
‘‘voluntary’’: accommodation must be made in a which tests will be given. At the same
The federal government shall not require manner that does not conflict with state time, the definition of ‘‘voluntary’’
participation by any state, school district, and local law and policy. recognizes and accommodates the
public or private school, organization, or With respect to who decides to variation in responsibility and authority
individual in voluntary national tests, make participate in voluntary national tests, for education governance that exists
participation in voluntary national tests a the National Assessment Governing across state boundaries among states
specified condition for receiving federal Board suggests that Congress and the and schools.
funds, or require participants to report President consider the following: School authorities also decide the
voluntary national test results to the federal extent to which official policies will
government. Public and private school authorities
should be afforded the option to participate provide for parental intervention to
Rationale in the voluntary national tests. For public have their children excused from
schools, state and/or local law and policy testing. The definition of ‘‘voluntary’’
It is fundamental that the definition of should determine whether the initial
the term ‘‘voluntary’’ include limits on intends to accommodate this variability
decision to participate is made at the state as well, again, without intruding on
the role of the federal government. The level or at the local district level. Where state
limits on the federal role should be law or policy provides that the initial
local prerogatives.
decision be made at the state level, and the Finally, the definition of ‘‘voluntary’’
specified in legislation and designed to
state decides not to participate, school recognizes that there could be instances
insure against any encroachment on
districts should be afforded the opportunity in which school authorities decide not
state, local, and private school
to decide whether to participate, to the extent to participate in the voluntary national
autonomy. Several witnesses in the permitted by state and local law and policy. tests, but certain parents want their
Governing Board’s public hearings For private schools, the decision to children tested. In such cases, parents
argued that the 55 mile-per-hour speed participate should be made by the may elect to have their children tested
limit was voluntary, too, but became appropriate governing authority.
Parents may have their children excused by appropriately licensed or recognized
universally implemented by states (and
from testing as determined by state and local individuals or organizations. Because all
in that sense was ‘‘mandatory’’) because
law and policy in the case of public schools. parents who may wish to have their
it was a specified condition required to
In the case of private schools, parents may children take the test may not have the
receive federal highway funding. The have their children excused from testing as resources to pay for private testing, the
definition of ‘‘voluntary’’ provided here determined by the policy of the appropriate test and scoring guides could be made
would foreclose such an outcome. governing authority. available for free, or at a minimal
However, it would not foreclose any Parents whose schools are not participating
charge, after the period for conducting
federal grantee from using the voluntary but want their children to take the voluntary
national tests should have access to the tests the testing is completed.
national test to meet a general reporting
requirement if other options are either through a qualified individual or Intended Use of the Voluntary National
available as well and could be fulfilled testing organization before the tests are
released to the public or through
Tests
validly and appropriately by the dissemination procedures at no or minimal The intended use of the voluntary
voluntary national tests. On the one cost (e.g., public libraries and the Internet) national tests is related to the statement
hand, it is not fair to require that the after the tests are released to the public. of purpose and definition of
VNT be used. On the other hand, it is ‘‘voluntary’’ suggested above. The
not fair to foreclose its use if doing so Rationale
Governing Board suggests that Congress
is done without coercion and solely at The definition of ‘‘voluntary’’ adopted
and the President consider the following
the participant’s discretion. by the Governing Board is intended to
as the intended use of the proposed
align with state and local law and policy
Who Decides To Participate voluntary national tests:
regarding the authority to make
Since the federal government will not decisions about testing. The definition To provide information to parents,
coerce participation, it will be up to is designed to allow for choice in students, and authorized educators about the
others to decide whether to participate. achievement of the individual student in
providing the opportunity to participate,
relation to the content and the rigorous
Education governance for public schools but without exceeding the authority of performance standards for the National
in the United States, about 88 percent of the federal government in this sensitive Assessment, as set by the National
K–12 school enrollment, is vested in area, without coercion by the federal Assessment Governing Board for 4th grade
state and local public authorities. government, and without intruding on reading and 8th grade mathematics.
Responsibility for the remaining 12 the prerogatives of states, school
percent of K–12 school enrollment districts, private schools, and parents. Rationale
resides with private school authorities Typically, if not universally, The proposed intended use of the
and parents. determinations about testing are made voluntary national tests is purposely
The definition of ‘‘voluntary’’ needs by school authorities, whether state, narrow, and appropriately so.
to accommodate a wide range and local, or private (including home Consistent with the purpose statement,
diversity of governance authority. For schools). They determine what should which is to measure individual student
example, there is great variation among be tested, what grades should be tested, achievement, the intended use is to
state laws in the degree of central the time of year for testing, the content provide information describing the
authority and responsibility for of reports on test results and the use of achievement of the individual student.
education and the degree of local the results. These authorities decide Upon receiving the results of the test,
district autonomy. Similarly, there are whether tests will be taken by all parents, students and teachers will have
differences among private schools in students or by a sample of students. an overall measure of the individual
how they are governed as well as among Therefore, the definition of ‘‘voluntary’’ student’s achievement in 4th grade
state laws regarding the oversight of is designed to account for the fact that reading or 8th grade mathematics. As
27524 Federal Register / Vol. 64, No. 97 / Thursday, May 20, 1999 / Notices

described in the following section on example, a test of English language Proficient, and Advanced.1 All test
reporting, they will have information on proficiency may involve speaking and questions, student answers, and an
the performance standard reached by listening as well as reading. A test to answer key should be returned with the
the student and other detailed related diagnose specific learning problems test results; it will be clear which
information. may include motor coordination and questions were answered correctly and
With information in hand from the perception, but may or may not include which were not. The achievement levels
voluntary national tests and other mathematics skills. Tests for the general should be explained and illustrated in
sources about the child and the school population, such as the voluntary light of the questions on the test. Also,
program, it is expected that: (1) parents national tests, are inappropriate for based on the nationally representative
could become more involved with the these diagnostic purposes. sample of students who participated in
child’s education, (2) students could the national tryout of the test the year
study hard and learn more, (3) teachers The voluntary national tests are not
intended to be used as the sole criterion before, the percent of students
could work more to emphasize nationally at each achievement level
important skills and knowledge in the in making ‘‘high stakes’’ decisions (e.g.,
placement or promotion) about should be provided with the report.
subjects tested without narrowing or
individual students. As the National There should be no compilations of
limiting their curricula, and (4) parents,
Academy of Sciences/National Research student results provided automatically
students, and teachers could have a
Council (NAS/NRC) stated in its report by the program. The program should not
means for better communication about
‘‘High Stakes: Testing for Tracking, provide results for the nation as a whole
the child’s achievement.
While such outcomes can be hoped Promotion, and Graduation’’: or by state, district, school, or
for, their achievement relies on local classroom, since the purpose and use of
Scores from large-scale assessments should the testing program are directed at
effort, resources, skill, and persistence. never be the only sources of information used
A test and clear performance standards individual student level results.
to make a promotion or retention decision
are necessary, but not sufficient * * * Test scores should always be used in However, it is virtually certain that
conditions for their achievement. No combination with other sources of compilations of student results will be
testing program can determine, ensure, information about student achievement desired and demanded by at least some
or constrain what will be done with the * * * Students who fail should have the of the state and district participants and
information it provides. However, when opportunity to retake any test used in making possibly by private school participants
the values of a society at large are promotion decisions; this implies that tests as well. These participants should be
focused on a clear goal widely used in making promotion decisions should permitted to obtain and compile the
recognized as important, with consistent have alternate forms. (p. 12–11). data at their own cost, but they will bear
methods for monitoring progress toward the full responsibility for using the data
that goal, the likelihood that local effort, The NAS/NRC report also recommends in appropriate ways and for validating
resources, skill and persistence will against the use of the voluntary national the uses they make of the data.
voluntarily be brought to bear on the test in any high stakes decision for The Governing Board would develop
achievement of that goal is increased. individual students under any and provide guidelines and criteria for
The Governing Board does not assume circumstances, whether in association use by states, districts, and schools for
that uses of data from voluntary national with other sources of information or not. compiling and reporting the data from
tests beyond the intended use described This recommendation is in contrast to the voluntary national tests. The
above are necessarily inappropriate or the Governing Board’s suggestion above guidelines and criteria would explicitly
should be prohibited to states, districts, that any use of the voluntary national require full and clear disclosure about
and private schools. Any such test beyond the stated intended use exclusions and/or absences from testing,
additional use of voluntary national test must follow technical standards and be so that results and comparisons would
data would be done at the discretion of validated by the participating state, be accurately portrayed. Access to the
the participating state, district, or district, or private school authorities. test data by external researchers would
private school authorities, who would The Governing Board recommends that be made strictly at the discretion of the
be responsible for following appropriate such uses and their validation be left to participating state, district, or private
technical standards and validation the professional discretion of school, as it would with any other
procedures. participating states, districts and testing program, without prejudice
However, the voluntary national test schools. because of federal support for the
are not tied to a preferred curriculum,
Reporting the Results of the Voluntary voluntary national test program.
teaching method or approach. The
voluntary national tests are based on the National Tests Other Issues
content of the National Assessment of
Education Progress. The content of each Consistent with the purpose and There are several issues which the
NAEP test is developed by the intended use of the voluntary national Governing Board would be remiss not to
Governing Board through a National tests, the National Assessment raise, although they are outside the
consensus process involving hundreds Governing Board suggests that results of requirements for this report set by
of educators, curriculum specialists, the voluntary national tests be provided Congress and no attempt is made to
school administrators, parents, and separately for each student. Parents, resolve them here.
members of the public. The content of students, and authorized educators
NAEP is designed to assess what (those with direct responsibility for the 1 N.B. In making the determination that the

education of the student) should receive achievement levels will be the basis for reporting
students know and can do, not how they voluntary national test results, the Governing Board
are taught. the test results report for the student. is aware that Congress has asked for its response to
The voluntary national tests also are Test results for the student should be the assertion that the process for setting the levels
not designed to diagnose specific reported according to the performance is ‘‘flawed.’’ The Governing Board is submitting
standards for the National Assessment simultaneously, under separate cover, a report
learning problems or English language describing its response to this assertion and its plan
proficiency. Tests for such diagnostic of Educational Progress (NAEP). These for investigating alternative standard-setting
purposes are specifically tailored. For are the NAEP achievement levels: Basic, methods.
Federal Register / Vol. 64, No. 97 / Thursday, May 20, 1999 / Notices 27525

Implementation continues. The Governing Board intends September 30, 1999. This will permit
By law, the Governing Board has to develop options to create a good the test development contractor to
exclusive authority for test linkage between the VNT and NAEP. If proceed in an orderly and efficient
development. The Governing Board has the linkage cannot be established, manner to carry out activities that are
been meticulous in staying within the alternative reporting strategies for the essential to the pilot test, such as
law’s boundaries. The Governing Board VNT will be prepared. These determining the sample of participating
alternatives would, of course, be based schools and arranging for the printing of
has focused its efforts on developing test
on NAEP content and performance booklets of test questions.
questions and on associated activities.
standards to the maximum extent
Appropriately, the Governing Board has A decision to proceed that comes too
possible.
not taken up implementation issues These questions of implementation late will set the schedule for the pilot
such as and linking do not need to be settled test back one year, to March 2001. This
• The process by which states, is because pilot testing must occur in
immediately. They will, however, need
districts and schools commit to the same month that testing is to occur,
to be considered and must be settled in
participate, to what entity the which is March. If authorization to
a timely manner if Congress and the
commitment is made, and in what form proceed does not come before
President decide that the voluntary
and of what nature the commitment
national test program should go September 30, it may not be possible to
should be
forward. carry out all of the necessary steps that
• How information about the test
Summary lead up to the pilot test in time for it to
program and the opportunity to
participate will be made available to occur in March 2000.
This report presents the Governing
parents, teachers, and students Board’s response to the congressional If, on the other hand, the decision is
• Whether and how quality control assignment to determine the purpose made not to proceed, a decision prior to
monitoring of testing should occur and intended use of the proposed September 30 will allow for an orderly
• How printing of test booklets, voluntary national tests, including the and cost-effective termination of the test
scoring of student responses, and definition of the term ‘‘voluntary’’ and development contract.
reporting of test results would be a description of the achievement levels It is important to note the purpose of
handled and other means for reporting results. pilot testing. The purpose of pilot
• Whether the testing program should The Governing Board has prepared this testing is to determine the quality of
be controlled by a federal agency or report over an eight month period that each individual test question. There are
private commercial interests included extensive deliberation, expert no individual student scores reported.
• Whether all or part of the costs for advice, four regional public hearings In pilot testing, individual questions are
the test program should be paid by the and two successive periods of public
federal government evaluated singly. There are no overall
comment (the first to develop the draft test scores calculated, even though a
Linking the Voluntary National Tests to report, the second to review the draft student in the pilot test will respond to
NAEP report). many test questions. The only data
Although the legislation requiring the collected are statistics that relate to the
Underlying the concept of the report calls for a ‘‘determination,’’ the
proposed Voluntary National Tests is specific test question, such as the
Governing Board views this report as
the desire to measure and report student percent of students who answered the
advisory. Any final determination on
achievement based on the content and question correctly. From the analysis of
these matters would be made in
rigorous performance standards of legislation enacted by Congress and student responses on the individual test
NAEP. Indeed, the directive from signed by the President. questions, three decisions are possible:
Congress to the Governing Board is to In submitting this report, the drop the test question, keep the test
link the VNT to NAEP ‘‘to the maximum Governing Board is neither advocating question as is, or keep the test question
extent possible.’’ Accomplishing this for or against a voluntary national test. with changes. Only from the set of test
linkage presents a significant Rather, the Governing Board interprets questions that remain after pilot testing
challenge—one which affects the design and assignment from Congress to be a will test booklets be constructed, which
of the VNT as well as the manner in present a sound and logical case about then will be tried out in field-testing.
which data are calculated and reported. the potential purpose and use of the The field test stage, unlike the pilot test,
Two tests can be linked to the degree voluntary national tests. is designed to simulate the plans for
that they have common characteristics, actual testing. If the decision is made to
including types of questions, range of Recommendation
proceed, a field test would be conducted
content, test administration procedures, The Governing Board is submitting in March 2001.
etc. Thus, the first task facing the this report in June, three months before
Governing Board is to forge a close The optimal outcome would be to
the required due date of September 30,
relationship between the two tests as the 1999. This is to assist the Congress and have a timely final decision on whether
VNT is being created. the President in deliberations toward a or not there shall be voluntary national
Linking two tests also depends upon timely decision on the future of the tests. Another possible outcome would
the particular statistical approach that voluntary national tests. be to have agreement to proceed with
can be used. Unless a strong statistical The Governing Board recommends the pilot test of questions, while
procedure can be used legitimately, the that a decision be made before continuing to deliberate on the
VNT results cannot be reported directly September 30. The schedule for the prospects for the voluntary national test
on NAEP scales. This would necessarily voluntary national test, if the decision is program itself. If the pilot test proceeds,
mean that the VNT may have to be made to proceed, calls for a pilot test in the test questions could be considered
reported without direct reference to March 2000 of test questions developed for use in the National Assessment of
NAEP. by the Governing Board. In order for the Educational Progress, should the
Solutions to the challenge of linking pilot test to be properly carried out in ultimate outcome be the continuing
will evolve as (and if) work on the VNT March 2000, a decision is needed before prohibition of voluntary national tests.
27526 Federal Register / Vol. 64, No. 97 / Thursday, May 20, 1999 / Notices

National Assessment of Educational Governing Board continues to weigh purpose was to overburden NAEP’s
Progress: Design 2000–2010 new evidence that may bear on the design, drive up costs and reduce the
What should the Nation’s Report Card shape of the NAEP redesign policy. For number of subjects that could be tested.
on student achievement look like during example, following the adoption of the For example, the National Assessment
the next decade? How can it most redesign policy in 1996, there have been tested two or three subjects each year
effectively help the public understand evaluation reports issued on the during the 1970’s, its first decade, but
the academic readiness of our youth at National Assessment, reviews by other only every other year after the 1980’s.
grades 4, 8, and 12—key transition experts, and papers prepared for the Another indicator that NAEP had too
points in American education? November 1998 Ten-Year Anniversary many distractions was that results could
Ultimately, how can the National Conference sponsored by the Governing be released as many as two to three
Assessment of Educational Progress Board. The views expressed raise issues years after testing. This simply was not
(NAEP) best be used as an indicator of or concerns that bear on six areas of the acceptable, particularly with the advent
national and state educational redesign policy. The Governing Board of state-level assessments in the 1990’s.
decided to examine once again these six The Governing Board’s solution was
preparedness for the challenges facing
areas of the redesign policy to determine to focus NAEP on what it does best:
our society?
The purpose of this report to Congress whether any modifications to the policy measure and report on the status of
and the President is to describe the are in order. These six policy areas were student achievement and change over
recommendations of the National reviewed in detail in a forum conducted time. Focusing NAEP on what it does
Assessment Governing Board for by the Governing Board on April 15 best would permit NAEP’s design to be
answering these questions. The report with technical experts, consumers of simplified and also would mean putting
will provide a summary of the NAEP data, representatives from the limits on demands that are outside
Governing Board’s policy to redesign National Center for Education Statistics NAEP’s central purpose. Another part of
the National Assessment, describe the and the NAEP contractors. The results focusing NAEP is to define the audience
status of implementation of the redesign of the April 15 forum are incorporated for reports. The Governing Board has
policy, and address the implications for in this report. determined that the NAEP program
reauthorization of the National should not attempt to serve multiple
National Assessment Redesign: A audiences directly. The audience for
Assessment of Educational Progress. Summary and Status Report reports should be the general public.
Background Introduction: The Redesign Principles Specialized needs for NAEP data
In 1996, prompted by increasing should be accommodated by making the
Over its thirty-year history, the
demand for more and more frequent NAEP data easily accessible for analysis
National Assessment has earned respect
information about the status and by others—educators, researchers,
and credibility. The National
progress of student achievement in the policymakers, and the media, among
Assessment is widely recognized for the
United States, the National Assessment others. In order to make data more
comprehensiveness of its tests, the
Governing Board, an independent, understandable and useful to the
quality of its technical design, the
bipartisan citizen’s group created by general public, the Governing Board has
accuracy of its reports, and innovation
Congress to set policy for the National determined that achievement levels, or
in its execution. The data produced by
Assessment, charted a course for NAEP performance standards, should be the
the National Assessment are unique. No
through the year 2010. The policy to primary means for reporting NAEP
other program provides regular reports
redesign the National Assessment results.
on the status and progress of student Thus, five principles undergird the
followed two years of study, expert achievement for our nation as a whole Governing Board’s policy for the
advice, deliberation by the Governing and that are comparable state-by-state. redesign of the National Assessment:
Board, and public comment. Although its original purpose was to • Conduct assessments annually,
In 1997, the National Center for measure and report on the status of following a dependable schedule
Education Statistics (NCES) developed a student achievement and on change • Focus NAEP on what it does best
plan to implement the redesign policy. over time, recognition of the quality and • Define the audience for NAEP
The plan has two phases. The first integrity of the National Assessment led reports
phase covers assessments in the year to a multitude of demands and • Report results using performance
1999–2003. In 1998, NCES awarded new expectations beyond reporting on standards
contracts for NAEP covering this period. achievement. Meeting those • Simplify NAEP’s technical design
During this first phase, the Governing expectations was done with good Details on these and other aspects of
Board’s annual schedule of assessments intentions and seemed right for the the redesign policy follow.
will be carried out (see Table 1), situation at the time. However, some
National Assessment student additions that the National Assessment Annual Schedule
achievement data will be released more performs less effectively were ‘‘tacked A centerpiece of the National
quickly, National Assessment reports on’’ to the original design. Assessment redesign in a dependable
will be redesigned for the general The National Assessment was being annual schedule of assessments through
public, and research will be conducted asked to do too many things, some even the year 2010 (Table 1). In the past
to foster a streamlined design for the beyond its reach to do well, and was decade, the focus on education reform,
National Assessment. The second phase attempting to serve too many audiences. new and revised state assessments, and
of National Assessment redesign, For example, in contrast to the 1970’s in the national education goals have led to
covering assessments for the years which a single 120 page report on demand for National Assessment testing
2004–2007, will continue the earlier mathematics was deemed sufficient, the more frequently than the biennial
improvements and begin to implement 1992 NAEP mathematics reports schedule of the 1980’s and most of the
the innovations aimed at streamlining numbered seven and totaled about 1,800 1990’s. The schedule for the period
the design of NAEP. pages. 1996 through 2010 was adopted in
Even as redesign implementation The result of attempting to respond to March 1997 and revised in November
begins under the new contracts, the demands beyond NAEP’s central 1998. It provides for annual assessments
Federal Register / Vol. 64, No. 97 / Thursday, May 20, 1999 / Notices 27527

at the national level and state-level language, and the arts. These are the writing in grades 4 and 8 alternating
assessments in even-numbered years. subjects listed in the current national with mathematics and science in grades
The long-term trend assessments in education goals. Reading, writing, 4 and 8. Student achievement results in
reading, writing, mathematics, and mathematics and science will be these subjects and grades at the state
science continue on a once per four-year assessed once every four years. Other level will be reported on a once per
cycle beginning in 1999. subjects will be assessed less frequently, four-year basis.
At the national level, grades assessed but there will generally be two
will be 4, 8 and 12. Subjects covered assessments in a subject over a ten-year Many of the other redesign policies,
will be reading, writing, mathematics, period. described below, are aimed at making
science, geography, U.S. history, world Testing at the state level will occur in the annual schedule affordable through
history, civics, economics, foreign even-numbered years, with reading and cost-saving efficiencies.

TABLE 1.—SCHEDULE FOR THE NATIONAL ASSESSMENT OF EDUCATIONAL PROGRESS


[The following schedule was adopted by the National Assessment Governing Board on March 8, 1997 and revised in November 1998.
Assessments shown as scheduled for 1996, 1997, and 1998 were approved previously by the Board.]

Year National State

1996 ....................................................... Mathematics .......................................................................................................... Mathematics (4, 8).


Science ................................................................................................................. Science (8).
Long-term trend* (reading, writing, mathematics, science) ..................................
1997 ....................................................... Arts (8). .................................................................................................................
1998 ....................................................... Reading ................................................................................................................. Reading (4, 8).
Writing ................................................................................................................... Writing (8).
Civics..
1999 ....................................................... Long-term trend*.
2000 ....................................................... Mathematics .......................................................................................................... Mathematics (4, 8).
Science ................................................................................................................. Science (4, 8).
Reading (4).
2001 ....................................................... U.S. History.
Geography.
2002 ....................................................... Reading ................................................................................................................. Reading (4, 8).
Writing ................................................................................................................... Writing (4, 8).
2003 ....................................................... Civics.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE (12).
Long-term trend*.
2004 ....................................................... MATHEMATICS .................................................................................................... MATHEMATICS (4,
8).
Science ................................................................................................................. Science (4, 8).
2005 ....................................................... WORLD HISTORY (12).
ECONOMICS (12).
2006 ....................................................... READING .............................................................................................................. READING (4, 8).
Writing ................................................................................................................... Writing (4, 8).
2007 ....................................................... ARTS.
Long-term trend*.
2008 ....................................................... Mathematics .......................................................................................................... Mathematics (4, 8).
SCIENCE .............................................................................................................. SCIENCE (4, 8).
2009 ....................................................... U.S. HISTORY.
GEOGRAPHY.
2010 ....................................................... Reading ................................................................................................................. Reading (4, 8).
WRITING ............................................................................................................... WRITING (4, 8).
Note: Grades 4, 8, and 12 will be tested unless otherwise indicated. Comprehensive assessments are indicated BOLD ALL CAPS; standard
assessments are indicated in upper and lower case.
* Long-term trend assessments are conducted in reading, writing, mathematics and science. These assessments provide trend data as far
back as 1970 and use tests developed by the National Assessment at that time.

Status of Implementation at grades 4, 8, and 12 at the national many audiences has meant that no
level. In 2002, reading and writing audience is optimally served by the
The work in the new NAEP contracts
assessments will be conducted at the National Assessment. The NAEP
covers the schedule as adopted by the
state level in grades 4 and 8 and at the redesign policy makes the distinction
Governing Board for the years 1999–
national level in grades 4, 8, and 12. In between the audience for reports
2003. The long-term trend assessments
in reading, writing, mathematics, and 2003, assessments will be conducted at prepared by the NAEP program and the
science will be conducted in 1999 and the national level in civics in grades 4, users of NAEP data. The audience for
2003. In 2000, mathematics and science 8, and 12 and in foreign language at NAEP reports is the American public.
assessments will be conducted in grades grade 12. The primary users of NAEP data are
4 and 8 at the state level and at grades national and state policymakers,
Define the Audience for NAEP Reports educators, and researchers.
4, 8, and 12 at the national level. In
addition, a reading assessment at grade The expanded demands and This distinction in the policy between
4 at the national level will be expectations noted above reflected the the audience for reports and users of
conducted. In 2001, geography and U.S. many varied audiences that NAEP was data is important. It is intended to
history assessments will be conducted attempting to serve. Trying to serve too address the needs of various groups and
27528 Federal Register / Vol. 64, No. 97 / Thursday, May 20, 1999 / Notices

individuals interested in NAEP results, National Assessment results. Under the options to simplify the design of the
while providing an appropriate division redesign policy, achievement levels are National Assessment. Examples of
of labor between them and the federal to be used as the primary (although not NAEP’s complexity include: (1)
government. exclusive) means for reporting National National and state results are based on
National Assessment reports released Assessment results. The achievement completely separate samples. (2) No
by the U.S. Department of Education levels describe ‘‘how good is good student takes the complete set of test
should be objective, providing the facts enough’’ on the various tests that make questions in a subject and as many as
about the status and progress of student up the National Assessment. Previously, twenty-six different test booklets are
achievement. Providing objective the National Assessment reported used within a grade; thus scores on
information about student achievement average scores on a 500-point scale. NAEP are calculated using very
is an appropriate federal role. Since the There was no way of knowing whether sophisticated statistical procedures. (3)
public is the primary audience, NAEP a particular score represented strong or Students, teachers, and principals
reports should be understandable, weak performance and whether the complete separate background
jargon free, easy to use, widely amount of change from previous years’ questionnaires, which may be submitted
disseminated, and timely. assessments should give cause for at different times, complicating their use
On the other hand, the redesign concern or celebration. The National in calculating assessment results. (4)
policy suggests that interpreting NAEP Assessment now also reports the The data for every background question
data (e.g., developing hypotheses about percentage of students who are collected must be compiled before any
achievement from relationships between performing at or above ‘‘Basic,’’ report can be produced, regardless of
test scores and background questions) is ‘‘Proficient,’’ and ‘‘Advanced’’ levels of whether the data from the background
a role that falls primarily to those achievement. question will be included in a report,
outside the Department of Education— The achievement levels have been the lengthening the time from data
the states that participate in NAEP, subject of several independent collection to reporting.
policymakers, curriculum specialists, evaluations, some controversy, and
researchers, and the media, to name a conflicting recommendations. Status of Implementation
few. For the NAEP program itself to Recommendations have been carefully This is a ‘‘work in progress.’’ Options
address the myriad of interests and considered and some have been used to for combining the national and state
questions of these diverse groups seems improve the standard-setting samples are being developed by the
both impractical and inappropriate. procedures. While the current contractors in collaboration with NCES
However, the federal government procedures are among the most and the Governing Board. Similarly,
should encourage and provide funds for comprehensive used in education, the options to reduce the size of the state
a wide range of individuals and Governing Board remains committed to sample are being considered. An option
organizations with varied interests and making continual improvements. to increase the precision of the state
perspectives to analyze NAEP data and results will be implemented in the year
use the results to improve education. Status of implementation 2000 mathematics and science state
This is the point of the redesign policy. The Governing board will continue to assessments. Progress also has been
Thus, the redesign policy provides that set achievement levels for reporting made in shortening the time between
National Assessment data are to be NAEP results. These achievement levels data collection and reporting by
made available in easily accessible are to be used on a developmental basis eliminating the requirement to link
forms to support the efforts of states and until a determination is made that the certain background questionnaires to
others to analyze the data, interpret levels are reasonable, valid, and student achievement data. Plans for a
results to the public, and improve informative to the public. At that point, short-form of the National Assessment,
education performance. the developmental designation will be using a single test booklet, are being
removed. implemented, with a pilot possibly as
Status of Implementation The Governing Board views standard early as the year 2000. The purpose of
The National Center for Education setting as a judgmental, not a scientific, the short-form trial is to enable faster
Statistics is placing a high priority on process. However, the process must be initial reporting of results and, possibly,
‘‘highlight’’ reports and national report conducted in a manner that is for states to have access to NAEP
cards for each subject, which are aimed technically sound and defensible. The assessment results in years in which
at the general public. NAEP data will be Governing Board is preparing a report NAEP assessments are not scheduled in
accessible through a new Internet web required by Congress to respond to the particular subjects. Plans also are in the
site, customized for particular data assertion that the process for setting the development stage for improving the
users. Priorities for NAEP secondary achievement levels is ‘‘flawed.’’ This quality, relevance, and efficiency of
analysis grants were revised to report will include a detailed plan for background questionnaires.
encourage wider use of NAEP data by reviewing the criticisms and
Measure Student Achievement at
national and state policy makers, compliments found in the evaluation
Grades 4, 8, and 12
educators, and researchers and to focus reports that studied the achievement
the analyses on interpretive and levels. The plan also will address The primary purpose of the National
education improvement purposes. Also, alternatives to the current level-setting Assessment is to measure student
NCES is continuing to develop and procedures. achievement at grades 4, 8, and 12 in
provide training on software for academic subjects at the state and
Simplify the Technical Design for the national level and for subgroups,
analyzing NAEP data.
National Assessment showing trends over time in the percent
Report Results Using Performance The current design of the National of students at or above each
Standards Assessment is very complex. The achievement level. The subjects to
In 1988, Congress created the redesign policy requires that the assess are those listed in the national
Governing Board and authorized it to set research and testing companies that educational goals—reading, writing,
performance standards—called compete for the contract to conduct the mathematics, science,U.S. history,
achievement levels—for reporting National Assessment must identify geography, world history, civics,
Federal Register / Vol. 64, No. 97 / Thursday, May 20, 1999 / Notices 27529

economics, the arts, and foreign NAEP on what it does best comes with NAEP are inconclusive or counter to
language. Grades 4, 8 and 12 are a related idea—recognizing and limiting what one would expect. Even where the
considered to be important transition what NAEP is not designed to do. associations are stronger, the data are
points in American education. Although the National Assessment is not adequate for supporting conclusions
Reporting by grade is generally thought well designed for measuring student that explain why achievement is at the
to be relevant for policy than the achievement and trends over time, it is level reported. Clearly, the use of NAEP
reporting by age which was used at not a good source of data for drawing background data to explain or interpret
NAEP’s inception and in long-term conclusions about or providing achievement results should be done
trend reporting. explanations for the level of with caution.
Although grade 12 performance is performance that is reported. It also is
important as an ‘‘exit’’ measure from the not a measure of personal values, a Status of Implementation
K–12 system, here are problems with national curriculum, an appropriate Under the new NAEP contracts, the
grade 12 results. The problems are that means for improving instruction in collection of background information
student and school participation rates individual classrooms, or a basis for will be more focused. The plan is to
and student motivation at grade 12 are evaluating specific pedagogical collect a well-defined core of
now. The Governing Board has approaches. background information. For example,
considered whether the change NAEP to The National Assessment is what is the well-defined core of background
another grade at the high school level, known as a ‘‘cross-secondary survey,’’ information will include the data that
examining both anecdotal and empirical an effective and cost-efficient means for are required for every assessment—e.g.,
evidence. Anecdotal evidence about the gathering data on student achievement. data on sex, race, ethnicity, whether the
low motivation of high school students A cross-sectional survey gathers data at students are in public or private
taking low stakes tests in the spring of one point in time. In the case of NAEP, schools, etc. In addition, each
their senior year raises serious questions data are gathered on national and state- assessment will have a set of
about whether NAEP should test a grade representative samples of students at a background questions designed
12. However, the empirical evidence in particular time during the school year. specifically for the subject being
NAEP does not indicate that switching The sample is large enough to permit assessed, with each set being
to grade 11 would result in higher reasonably accurate estimates of determined by policy. Therefore, the
motivation on the part of students or subgroup performance (e.g., by sex, race, background questions for the
greater accuracy in the results. In fact, and ethnicity). Change over time can be mathematics assessment will vary from
there is some evidence that twelfth measured by administering the same those for the science or reading
graders taking NAEP may try harder in survey again in later years, under the assessments.
some cases than eleventh graders. The same testing conditions, with samples of The intent is not only to be more
redesign policy asks the companies that students that are similar to the ones purposeful about what is collected, but
compete for the NAEP contract to find tested earlier. Comparisons can be made more strategic about how it is collected
ways to increase school and student within and cross the subgroups and for as well. For example, in the past,
participation rates and student the whole sample. information on TV watching by students
motivation. Until they increase, However, a cross-sectional survey was collected regularly as a part of every
National Assessment reports should cannot provide answers about what assessment. In the same year, the same
include clear caveats about interpreting causes the level of performance that is background questions could be asked of
grade 12 results. reported. Measuring the causes of the students in each separate national
achievement would involve an sample. Clearly, whether two or more
Status of Implementation experimental design, with specific subjects are being assessed in a
Because the empirical evidence does research questions to answer, pre- and particular year, it may not be necessary
not warrant a change at this time, NAEP post-testing of students, and to ask identical questions across all of
should continue to test at grade 12. New comparisons of results between groups the assessments. Similarly, it may not be
NAEP contracts have been awarded for of students receiving a particular necessary to ask certain questions every
the conduct of assessments through the educational approach with those that year. In addition, the background
year 2003. The contracts are designed to are not. While some may view such questions themselves will be pilot tested
measure student achievement at grades research as a worthwhile part of NAEP, to reduce the possibility of
4, 8, and 12; report state, national, and the need for pre- and post-testing alone misinterpretation.
subgroup results; report trends over would double the costs of NAEP testing.
time; and use performance standards for Because pre- and post-testing would Reporting NAEP Results
reporting results. Caveats for require additional administrative The redesign policy provides the
interpreting grade 12 results have been burden on schools and more time away National Assessment results should be
added to reports. However, more from instruction for students, it could released with the goal of reporting
attention needs to be placed on severely hamper school and student results six to nine months after testing.
improving grade 12 participation rates participation rates in NAEP, especially Reports should be written for the
and student motivation. Toward this with NAEP’s annual assessment American public as the primary
end, NCES is planning a series of schedule. Too few schools and students audience and should be understandable,
studies, including NAEP transcript in the sample, in turn, would jeopardize free of jargon, easy to use and widely
studies, to examine the relationship NAEP’s ability to provide national and disseminated. National Assessment
between student achievement and state-representative student reports should be high technical quality,
motivation. achievement results. with no erosion of reliability, validity,
The best that can be done regarding or accuracy.
What NAEP Is Not Designed To Do explanation or interpretation of results The amount of detail in reporting
The NAEP redesign policy attempts to is to report on background variables that should be varied. Comprehensive
focus NAEP on what it does best. What may be associated with achievement. reports would be prepared to provide an
the National Assessment does best is However, in many cases, the data from in-depth look at a subject the first time
measure student achievement. Focusing background questions collected by it is assessed using a newly adopted test
27530 Federal Register / Vol. 64, No. 97 / Thursday, May 20, 1999 / Notices

framework, testing many students and monitors change in student performance trends in student achievement, to allow
collecting background information. using tests developed during the 1960’s for change to frameworks when the case
Although scale scores also will be used, and 1970’s. The sample of students is for change is compelling, and to manage
achievement levels shall continue to be based on age (i.e., 9, 13, and 17-year- costs.
the primary method for reporting NAEP olds) for reading, mathematics, and By law, National Assessment
results. Test questions, scoring guides, science and on grade for writing (i.e., frameworks are developed by the
and samples of students work that grades 4, 8 and 11). The age-based Governing Board through a national
illustrate the achievement levels—Basic, samples include students from two or consensus process involving hundreds
Proficient, and Advanced—will receive more grades. For example, the 9-year- of teachers, curriculum experts, state
prominence in reports. Data also would old sample has 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade and local testing specialists,
be reported by sex, race/ethnicity, socio- students. Long-term trend assessment administrators, and members of the
economic status, and for public and results are reported displaying changes public. The assessment frameworks
private schools; other reporting over time in average scores. The second describe how an assessment will be
categories also are possible. Standard program, referred to as ‘‘main NAEP,’’ constructed, provide for the subject area
reports would be more modest, uses tests developed more recently, content to be covered, determine what
providing overall results in the same reports results by grade, and employs will be reported, and influence the cost
subject in subsequent years using performance standards for reporting of an assessment.
achievement levels and average scores. whether achievement is good enough. Both current practice and important
Data could be reported by sex, race/ As an example of the potential for developments in each subject area are
ethnicity, socio-economic status, and for confusion in maintaining two separate considered: How much algebra should
public and private schools, but would programs, in 1996 the long-term trend be in the 8th grade mathematics
not be broken down further. The assessment program declared assessment? Should there be both
amount of background data collected mathematics results flat since 1990, multiple choice and constructed
and reported would be somewhat while main NAEP reported significant response items and if so,what is the
limited in comparison to a gains. appropriate mix? How much of what is
comprehensive report. Special, focused Some argue against the policy to make measured should students know and be
assessments on timely topics also would main NAEP the primary means for able to do? The frameworks receive
be conducted, exploring a particular monitoring trends. They feel that being wide public review before adoption by
question or issue and possibly limited to able to compare student achievement in the Governing Board.
one or two grades. the 1990’s to achievement in the 1970’s
Status of Implementation
and 1980’s is too important to eliminate.
Status of Implementation Others argue that the long-term trend The Governing Board is solely
The new NAEP contracts provide for assessments are not relevant for policy responsible for developing and
faster release of data, standards-based makers. This is because these approving assessment frameworks and
reporting, reports that are targeted to the assessments primarily use a sample has been adhering to its policy of
general public, and three different kinds based on the students’ age rather than keeping the frameworks stable. With a
of reports: ‘‘comprehensive,’’ on the students’ grade, the content of decision to be made this year about
‘‘standard,’’ and ‘‘focused.’’ The 1998 the tests is simpler, there is no whether to conduct a national
national reading results were released in standards-based reporting, and the consensus process for the 2004
11 months of testing; the state results in results at times conflict with main mathematics assessment, the Governing
12 months. Although still short of the NAEP. Board is beginning to examine criteria
Board’s goal of reporting results in 6 to for determining when a new framework
9 months following testing, progress is Status of Implementation is necessary. An important factor will be
being made. This is a ‘‘work in progress.’’ The the impact of changing the framework
National Center for Education statistics on the measurement of trends in student
Simplify Trend Reporting is just beginning to develop options for achievement.
The NAEP redesign policy requires making the transition from long-term
the development of a carefully planned trend to main NAEP as the primary Use International Comparisons
transition to enable ‘‘the main National means for monitoring trends in The NAEP redesign policy states that
Assessment’’ to become the primary achievement. Identifying options that National Assessment frameworks, test
way to measure trends in reading, are practical, affordable, and technically specifications, achievement levels, and
writing, mathematics and science. This feasible will take time. The Governing data interpretations shall take into
is because there are now two NAEP Board has scheduled long-term trend account, where feasible, curricula,
testing programs for reading, writing, assessments to be conducted in 1999, standards, and student performance in
mathematics and science. The two 2003, and 2007. This will afford other nations, band promote studies to
programs use different tests, draw adequate time to evaluate the viability ‘‘link’’ the National Assessment with
different samples of students (i.e., one of the options that may be proposed and international assessments.
based on age—9, 13 and 17-year-olds, at the same time maintain the long-term The National Assessment is, and
the other based on grade—4, 8 and 12), trend line. The immediate effect is to should be, an assessment of student
and report results in two different ways. change the schedule for this part of the achievement in the United States. It
Not surprisingly, the two different testing program from once every two should be focused on subjects and
programs can yield different results, years to once every four years. content deemed important for the U.S.
which complicates the presentation and through the national consensus process
explanation of NAEP results. In Keep NAEP Assessment Frameworks used to develop NAEP frameworks.
addition, this redundancy boosts costs, Stable However, decisions on content,
potentially limiting assessments in other The NAEP redesign policy states that achievement levels, and interpretation
subjects. assessment frameworks shall remain of NAEP results, where feasible, should
The first program, referred to as the stable for at least ten years. The purpose be informed, in part, by the expectations
‘‘long-term trend assessments,’’ is three-fold: to provide for measuring for education set by other industrialized
Federal Register / Vol. 64, No. 97 / Thursday, May 20, 1999 / Notices 27531

countries, and comparative test results. the integrity of the NAEP program and assessments, this provision is
Although there are technical hurdles to the privacy of individual test takers. interpreted as requiring long-term trend
overcome, consideration of such assessments once every two years. In
Status of Implementation
information can be useful in accordance with the schedule of
determining ‘‘how good is good The State of Maryland and the State assessments, the Governing Board
enough’’ in an assessment for U.S. of North Carolina have collaborated recommends that the NAEP legislation
students. with Governing Board on studies to be modified so that the frequency of the
examine the content of their respective long-term trend assessments is changed
Status of Implementation state mathematics test in light of the to at least once every four years.
The National Center for Education content of NAEP. The National Center
for Education Statistics has a special Conclusion
Statistics conducted a linking study of
the 1996 NAEP science and grants program that provides funds to The National Assessment in the next
mathematics assessments with the 1995 analyze NAEP data. The NCES has century will provide student
Third International Mathematics and amended priorities for this grants achievement results at the national level
Science Study (TIMSS). The program to encourage applications from each year. State-level data will be
Government Board used information states (and others) to conduct analyses provided every other year. Student
from this linking study in setting the that will be practical benefit in achievement in reading, writing,
achievement levels for the 1996 science interpreting NAEP results and in mathematics and science will,
assessment. NCES will be conducting improving education performance. The appropriately, receive the most
TIMSS again in the spring of 1999 and National Academy of Sciences report attention, with testing once every four
thirteen states have agreed to participate ‘‘Uncommon Measures,’’ describes the years, but not to the exclusion of other
to collect state-presentative TIMSS data. many technical difficulties involved in important subjects. By continuing to
NCES will be applying a methodology linking state results to NAEP. The NCES report results using achievement levels
is planning a major conference with the and improving the process by which
for relating TIMSS to NAEP and will be
states to provide a forum for discussing achievement levels are set, the National
evaluating the strength of the
and addressing these difficulties. In Assessment will help advance
relationship.
addition NCES is planning to conduct standards-based assessment and
Use Innovations in Measurement and studies on various linking reporting in the United States. With a
Reporting methodologies to provide insight on focus on its core purpose—measuring
how the linking of NAEP and state and reporting on the status of student
The NAEP redesign policy states that achievement and change over time—the
assessments may best be done.
the National Assessment shall assess, National Assessment design can be
and, where warranted, implement National Assessment Redesign:
made more streamlined, more effective,
advances related to technology and the Implications for Reauthorization
and more efficient. With a clear sense of
measurement and reporting of student The Governing Board’s redesign its primary audience—The general
achievement. In addition, the policy is directed at the operation of the public—National Assessment reports
competition for NAEP contracts for National Assessment program. It does will have more impact.
assessments beginning around the year not address governance of the National With a predictable schedule of
2000 shall include a plan for conducting Assessment. While there are a number assessments and reporting of National
testing by computer in at least one of areas in the current NAEP legislation Assessment results, the public at regular
subject and grade and for using for which change should be considered, intervals will discuss and debate
technology to improve test the NAEP redesign policy can, with two education quality, states can plan ahead
administration, measurement, and exceptions, be implemented within the for their participation, and educators
reporting. current NAEP legislation. will have an external standard against
Status of Implementation The first exception has to do with the which to compare their own efforts.
subjects to assess. Current law ties the Additional Information: Written
The newly awarded NAEP contracts subjects covered by NAEP to reading, comments must be received by June 9,
include plans for a short-form test and the other subjects listed in the 1999 at the following address: Mark D.
(described above) in 4th grade national education goals. The Governing Musick, Chairman (Attention: Ray
mathematics in the year 2000 and for Board agrees that these subjects should Fields), National Assessment Governing
the development of a computer-based be assessed by the National Assessment Board, 800 North Capitol Street NW,
assessment. and, accordingly, has adopted the Suite 825, Washington, DC 20002–4233.
Help States and Others Link To NAEP schedule displayed in Table 1 above. Written comments also may be
and Use NAEP Data To Improve However, the national education goals submitted electronically by sending

l
Education Performance are about to expire. The Governing electronic mail (e-mail) to
Board recommends that, with respect to Ray Fields@ED.GOV by June 9, 1999.
The NAEP redesign states that the subjects to assess, the reauthorization of Comments sent by e-mail must be
National Assessment shall assist states, the National Assessment should be submitted as an ASCII file avoiding the
districts and others, who want to do so consistent with the schedule of use of special characters and any form
at their own cost, to link their test assessments adopted by the Governing of encryption. Inclusion in the public
results to the National Assessment. The Board. record cannot be guaranteed for written
policy also provides that NAEP shall be The second issue has to do with long- statements, whether sent by mail or
designed to permit access and use by term trend assessments. Current law electronically, received after June 9,
others of NAEP data and materials. requires that assessments using age- 1999.
These include frameworks, based samples be conducted at least Public Record: A record of comments
specifications, scoring guides, results, once every two years. Since the only received in response to this notice will
questions, achievement levels, and assessments using age-based samples be available for inspection from 8 a.m.
background data. In addition, the policy are the reading, science and to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday,
provides that steps be taken to protect mathematics long-term trend excluding legal holidays, in Suite 825,
27532 Federal Register / Vol. 64, No. 97 / Thursday, May 20, 1999 / Notices

800 North Capitol Street, NW, DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY and Internet transaction requirement of
Washington, DC, 20002. the Commission’s Order Nos. 587, et
Federal Energy Regulatory seq. WGI states that it is a small
Dated: May 17, 1999.
Commission company located in a discrete
Roy Truby, geographic area with only five
[Docket No. GT99–30–000]
Executive Director, National Assessment customers, and that the cost of
Governing Board. Reliant Energy Gas Transmission compliance is prohibitive. Further, WGI
[FR Doc. 99–12746 Filed 5–19–99; 8:45 am] Company; Notice of Proposed states that all gas on its system is
BILLING CODE 4000–01–M Changes in FERC Gas Tariff delivered to end users and municipal
distribution systems, and that no gas is
May 14, 1999. delivered for further transportation to
Take notice that on May 7, 1999, any interstate or intrastate pipeline.
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Reliant Energy Gas Transmission According, to WGI, its customers have
Company (‘‘REGT’’), formerly NorAm never released capacity or used its
Federal Energy Regulatory Gas Transmission Company, tendered existing electronic bulletin board, and
Commission for filing its FERC Gas Tariff, Fifth make their nominations directly to other
Revised Volume No. 1 superseding pipelines that control all system
Fourth Revised Volume No. 1, to be interconnects.
[Docket No. EC99–50–000]
effective June 6, 1999. WGI states that copies of its filing
REGT states that the purpose of this have been mailed to all of its
PacifiCorp; Notice of Filing
filing is to reflect its name change to jurisdictional customers and to affected
May 14, 1999. Reliant Energy Gas Transmission state regulatory commissions.
Company and also to make minor Any person desiring to be heard or to
Take notice that on May 13, 1999, ministerial changes. protest said filing should file a motion
PacifiCorp filed a correction to Richard Any person desiring to be heard or to to intervene or a protest with the
T. O’Brien’s testimony which was filed protest said filing should file a motion Federal Energy Regulatory Commission,
with the Application in this docket. to intervene or a protest with the 888 First Street, NE., Washington, DC
Specifically, the name Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 20426, in accordance with Sections
‘‘ScottishPower’’ should be substituted 888 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 385.214 or 385.211 of the Commission’s
for the name ‘‘PacifiCorp’’ at the end of 20426, in accordance with Sections Rules and Regulations. All such motions
the 17th line on page 4 of Mr. O’Brien’s 385.214 or 385.211 of the Commission’s or protests must be filed in accordance
testimony. Rules and Regulations. All such motions with Section 154.210 of the
or protests must be filed in accordance Commission’s Regulations. Protests will
Any person desiring to be heard or to with Section 154.210 of the be considered by the Commission in
protest such filing should file a motion Commission’s Regulations. Protests will determining the appropriate action to be
to intervene or protest with the Federal be considered by the Commission in taken, but will not serve to make
Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 determining the appropriate action to be protestants parties to the proceedings.
First Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. taken, but will not serve to make Any person wishing to become a party
20426, in accordance with Rules 211 protestants parties to the proceedings. must file a motion to intervene. Copies
and 214 of the Commission’s Rules of Any person wishing to become a party of this filing are on file with the
Practice and Procedure (18 FR 385.211 must file a motion to intervene. Copies Commission and are available for public
and 385.214). All such motions and of this filing are on file with the inspection in the Public Reference
protests should be filed on or before Commission and are available for public Room. This filing may be viewed on
May 24, 1999. Protests will be inspection in the Public Reference web at http://www.ferc.fed.us/online/
considered by the Commission to Room. This filing may be viewed on the rims.htm (call 202–208–2222 for
determine the appropriate action to be web at http://www.ferc.fed.us/online/ assistance).
taken, but will not serve to make rims.htm (call 202–208–2222 for Linwood A. Watson, Jr.,
protestants parties to the proceedings. assistance). Acting Secretary.
Any person wishing to become a party Linwood A. Watson, Jr., [FR Doc. 99–12668 Filed 5–19–99; 8:45 am]
must file a motion to intervene. Copies Acting Secretary. BILLING CODE 6717–01–M
of this filing are on file with the [FR Doc. 99–12670 Filed 5–19–99; 8:45 am]
Commission and are available for public BILLING CODE 6717–01–M
inspection. This filing may also be DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
viewed on the Internet at http://
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory
www.ferc.fed.us/online/rims.htm (call
Commission
202–208–2222 for assistance).
Federal Energy Regulatory [Docket No. GT99–29–000]
Linwood A. Watson, Jr., Commission
Acting Secretary. Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline
[Docket No. RP99–303–000]
[FR Doc. 99–12682 Filed 5–19–99; 8:45 am] Company; Notice of Filing
BILLING CODE 6717–01–M Western Gas Interstate Company;
May 14, 1999.
Notice of Request for Waiver
Take notice that on May 7, 1999,
May 14, 1999. Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline
Take notice that on May 7, 1999, Company (Williston Basin), P.O. Box
Western Gas Interstate Company (WGI), 5601, Bismarck, North Dakota 58506–
211 North Colorado, Midland, Texas 5601, tendered for filing as part of its
79701, tendered for filing a petition for FERC Gas Tariff, Second Revised
waiver of the electronic communication Volume No. 1, the following revised