Education Picks Team to Develop Tests: Consortium Gets $13 Million Start
Innerst, Carol, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Despite GOP attempts to stall President Clinton's drive for national tests, the Education Department yesterday awarded a $13 million first-year contract to a consortium of major testing firms to develop voluntary fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade mathematics tests.
The tests will be based on the congressionally mandated National Assessment of Educational Progress and, for math, will be linked to the Third International Mathematics and Science Study to facilitate comparisons.
"For the first time, the tests will inform parents, teachers and students themselves about what it takes to reach national and even international standards of achievement no matter where they live in this great country - something no other test currently does," Education Secretary Richard W. Riley said in a statement.
To award the contract to the sole bidder, American Institutes for Research, the Education Department tapped its Fund for the Improvement of Education in the budget of the Office of Educational Research and Improvement.
That allows the administration to bypass Congress - a sore point with Rep. Bill Goodling, chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, who has made several attempts to stop the testing initiative or force the administration to seek congressional approval of its plans.
"When Congress reconvenes in 16 days, we will take immediate steps to stop the development of these tests and suspend federal funding for them," said Rep. Frank Riggs, California Republican and chairman of the committee's subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families.
"Chairman Goodling will offer an amendment . . . that would prohibit the U.S. Department of Education from spending any [fiscal year] 1998 funds for new tests until Congress gives authority," he said. "Chairman Goodling will also offer a resolution to stop the development of the tests. Finally, we will look at how the contract was awarded and to whom."
The overall costs of the five-year project will be around $90 million, Mr. …