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|NUMBER 146||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||MARCH 1998|
House Vote Prohibits New National Tests
NAGB Had Already Extended One-Year Delay
The measure passed by a vote of 242 to 174, with 25 Democrats joining Republicans to further limit the Clinton Administration's plans for developing and implementing national tests. In his State of the Union Address, Clinton asserted that federal tests in 4th-grade reading and 8th-grade math were on track, and would be administered in the fall of 1998.
In January, the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) delayed national testing until 2001. The bipartisan board voted unanimously to put the brakes on development of the tests. The board also made changes to the $65 million, five-year contract already in force between test developers and the U.S. Department of Education.
The board's vote was prompted by concerns for the quality of the tests being developed. The Department of Education was pushing production of the tests in response to President Clinton's desire that national testing be implemented while he is still in office.
Whether or not the tests will ever be implemented is now in question.
Rep. Goodling led the fight against national testing last fall, when a compromise budget agreement with the White House banned funds for new tests through Fiscal Year 1998 (see Education Reporter, Dec. 1997). The Goodling Amendment also transferred oversight authority for test development from the Department of Education to the NAGB.
The National Academy of Sciences, acting under a mandate in that agreement, is pursuing the feasibility of using existing commercial tests to accomplish the same purpose as a new national test.