a division of Home School Legal Defense Association
March 29, 2000

Congress Will Vote on Reauthorization of NAEP & NAGB This Year

Support the Following Amendments to NAEP & NAGB

Eliminate the State NAEP Test—Narrow NAEP to its Original Purpose of a Regional Survey

Since 1988, the state National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) has been used by more and more states every year. Forty-nine of the 50 states have participated in the state NAEP. In 1998 alone, 43 states and jurisdictions participated in the state NAEP, and the stated goal by National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) is to have 100 percent state participation by the year 2000.

Some states are mandating the federally created NAEP test for their students while others are considering using NAEP as their primary assessment in the future. If all 50 states mandate NAEP, it will become the national test that will, by default, create a national curriculum. What gets tested, must be taught

Limit Subjects Tested to the Three R’s, Reading, Writing and Arithmetic.

The disciplines tested by NAEP have grown from just four subjects in 1968—Reading, Writing, Math and Science—to include History, Civics, Arts, and Economics today. Testing of these new subject areas go beyond just mechanical area’s of curriculum and invade value-laden subjects that are beyond the scope of federal concern.

The purpose of NAEP should be to give the nation a report card on the overall educational achievement of America’s students. Expanding the subjects tested beyond the 3 R’s incurs more expense and goes beyond the original intent of NAEP.

Protect the Privacy of Students Who Take the NAEP and the Privacy of Their Families

While the use of NAEP has been expanded by NAGB, so also has the questionnaire students are required to complete before taking the test. Presently, information on race, gender, language spoken in the home, homework habits, participation in federal programs for disadvantaged, and experience with the subject area are requested from students. Recommendations have been made to include (among others) family income, parental occupation and post-secondary education plans.

This background information is raising many privacy questions and is minimally useful for analysis purposes. This invasion of student’s privacy should not continue. Background information should be reduced in order to make NAEP more cost efficient and enable a quicker turnaround time of publishing the test scores.

The law is unclear on whether or not NAGB keeps a database of individual students’ scores and personal data open to the public. There is a need for a specific requirement to expunge all individual students’ data after survey results are complete.

Separate NAEP from the Department of Education

Presently, members of NAGB are appointed by the Secretary of Education. Also certain aspects of the implementation of NAEP and the development of performance levels are handled through a partnership between NAGB and the U.S. Department of Education.

In order to avoid political influences and the pressure of teacher unions, we urge Congress to completely separate NAEP and NAGB from the U.S. Department of Education. One option is to completely privatize the NAEP test. Bipartisan congressional committee should appoint the members of NAGB rather than the Secretary of Education.

Specifically Prohibit NAEP From Being Used as a National Individually Scored Test.

The following amendment must be included in the NAEP reauthorization legislation:

“Notwithstanding any other provision of federal law, funds provided the department of education for an applicable program or for NAEP assessments should not be used to develop, plan, implement, or administer any national individualized testing program.”