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NCLB Outrages

No Child Left Behind Spin--Brought To You By ETS

Ohanian Note: The following text was printed as a quarter-page ad in The New York Times, March 12, illustrated by the smiling face of Kurt M. Landgraf, President & CEO of Educational Testing Service. I'd be interested in people's 'take' on why they ran this odd piece and why they ran it now. What do they hope to get out of this expensive piece of self-promotion?

It has been just over a year since President Bush signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act, answering the question: Does the federal government have a significant role to play in K-12 education?

In enacting this landmark legislation, the Congress and the President answered it with passion and pragmatism. There has been bipartisan support to make the law a reality in every classroom in every county in America, based upon standards and accountability. Real progress is being made: five states have had their accountability plans approved and all 50 states have submitted their accountability plans on time. The U. S. Department of Education is conducting informal meetings with state representatives to consult with them.

So what can the rest of us do?

Here at Educational Testing Service our answer has been--and still is--quite a lot, actually.

Just recently, the New Jersey Department of Education awarded ETS a four-year, $35 million contract to oversee the development and administration of reading and math tests for more than 200,000 third- and fourth-grade students. The New Jersey contract is the third testing program ETS will manage to help states and territories comply with their requirements under the No Child Left Behind Act, after those in California and Puerto Rico. In addition, ETS is a test-development subcontractor for K-12 testing programs in Georgia and Florida. ETS looks forward to working with all of them to provide these assessments so that their children may continue to demonstrate their educational progress.

But ETS has done more than just win major testing contracts. With all the emphasis on testing in NCLB, many people have questions and concerns about the proper role of assessment in their schools. In the face of the very real need for information about standardized testing, it is clear that those of us who support standards-based reform, education accountability, and the use of standardized testing as one key element to achieve those objectives have to take our case to voters, taxpayers, opinion leaders, and public policymakers.

But, we also have to make an extra effort to reach out to teachers and parents, to answer their questions and listen to their concerns. The overarching goal is to increase people's understnding of testing and how it supports teaching and learning--to help the public make informed judgments about what is happening in our schools. Knowledge is the best conduit to accurate understanding.

ETS has a social responsibility to engage in this discussion and to inform people about testing, including its proper use and how we ensure that tests are fair. To stand passively on the sidelines is not an option.

We have initiated a special effort called "Log On, Let's Talk." Its purpose is to stress appropriate assessment use. It's about sharing, not spinning. It's about providing facts and insights from the worldwide leader in assessment.

ETS has been doing a lot to help American schools take advantage of the opportunity for education reform. We expect to do even more. We believe in the children of this great nation and their right to an excellent educaiton.

We invite you to continue this dialogue by sharing your thoughts and questions at www.ets.org/testing or by mail.

ETS Rosedale Road, MS50-B
Princeton, NJ 08541

— Educational Testing Service
No Child Left Behind: One Year Later
The New York Times
March 12, 2003


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