Evaluation of the Voluntary National Tests

Evaluation of the Voluntary National Tests

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In his 1997 State of the Union address, President Clinton announced a federal initiative to develop tests of 4th-grade reading and 8th-grade mathematics that would provide reliable information about student performance at two key points in their educational careers. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the Voluntary National Tests (VNT) would create a catalyst for continued school improvement by focusing parental and community-wide attention on achievement and would become new tools to hold school systems accountable for their students' performance. The National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) has responsibility for development of the VNT. Congress recognized that a testing program of the scale and magnitude of the VNT initiative raises many important technical questions and requires quality control throughout development and implementation. In P.L. 105-78, Congress called on the National Research Council (NRC) to evaluate a series of technical issues pertaining to the validity of test items, the validity of proposed links between the VNT and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), plans for the accommodation and inclusion of students with disabilities and English-language learners, plans for reporting test information to parents and the public, and potential uses of the tests. This report covers phase 1 of the evaluation (November 1997-July 1998) and focuses on three principal issues: test specifications and frameworks; preliminary evidence of the quality of test items; and plans for the pilot and field test studies, for inclusion and accommodation, and for reporting VNT results.For example, in 4th-grade reading, the text passages are shorter than in NAEP, and intertextual items may permit the introduction of more questions without the need to add reading passages. ... intertextual items; that the mathematics test would be split between sections where calculator use is prohibited and permitted; and that some open-ended mathematics items would require responses that need toanbsp;...

Title:Evaluation of the Voluntary National Tests
Author:Board on Testing and Assessment, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council
Publisher:National Academies Press - 1998-09-14


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