A Malaysian delegation is briefed on U.S. education policies by a national research center.
Members of CRESST (Center for the Study of Evaluation & National Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing) discussed their program with a Malaysian delegation of four who work for the Malaysian Examination Syndicate in a program arranged by UCLA's International Visitors Bureau on Monday, July 18. The CRESST presentation was led by David Niemi, Assistant Director of CRESST, and Ron Dietel, Assistant Director for Research Use and Communications. A few topics were discussed at this meeting.
The first focus of the meeting was to explain to the delegation how the student testing system works in America. The main test that is used for the state of California is the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Test. It is usually distributed to students in the spring and results come in around summer time. The test mainly focuses on reading and math skills. Each individual state has its own student testing system. After these tests are taken by all the students in the United States, results are distributed to give the schools and children an idea of where they stand nationally. There is also a national report card that shows all of the children’s results as a unit. Recent reports show overall improvement but there are still lower scores among Hispanics and Blacks compared with scores of Asians and Whites.
The 1996 “No Child Left Behind” act was one of the more controversial subjects of the presentation. According to the act, every child in the United States achieve or surpass required standard test scores. Schools are held accountable for their students' scores. In some cases, if students are not achieving these scores or grades, school officials and administrators can be fired from the district. This means it is critical that these children are learning and keeping up with their peers.
CRESST delegates said the main objective of the program is to reach 100 percent proficiency in testing by 2014. Although the country is currently at 22 percent proficiency, there has been yearly improvements which slowly approach the 100 percent goal.
What a coherent assessment system should do was also briefly discussed. A system must provide a conceptual link between goals, instruction, measures and subsequent actions. It detects differences in instruction, should improve instructional practice and should reflect what we know about learning and advanced performance. Lastly, it should support fairness and morale.
The Malaysian delegation was scheduled to meet with USC the following day. Later they will be flying to Toronto, Canada and to New York to discuss more testing practices with other programs. They were happy with the CRESST presentation and went home with a few ideas as well.
CSE, founded in 1966, has ten research laboratories located nationwide. The program is competitively funded through national services. In 1985, there was less interest in the CRESST program but in 1990 and 1995, CRESST competed for funding and won. In 2000 they did not have to worry about competing; they were given an extension of their funding and in 2005, they won funding once again.
Published: Wednesday, July 27, 2005
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