tests in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP): basic, proficient, and advanced. For the 8th grade mathematics test, corresponding standards would be set by the 8th grade mathematics tests of NAEP, and student performance would be compared with that in other nations in the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).
In order to provide maximum preparation and feedback to students, parents, and teachers, sample tests would be circulated in advance, and a copy of the original test would be returned with the student's original and the correct answers noted. A major effort would be made to communicate test results clearly to students, parents, and teachers, and all test items would be published on the Internet just after the national administration of each test.
The proposal does not suggest any direct use of VNT scores to make decisions about the tracking, promotion, or graduation of individual students. Representatives of the U.S. Department of Education have stated that the VNTs are not intended for use in making such decisions, and the tests are not being developed to support such uses. Nonetheless, some civil rights organizations and other groups have expressed concern that test users would inappropriately use VNT scores for such purposes. Indeed, under the voluntary testing plan, test users (states, school districts, and schools) would be free to use the tests as they wish, just as test users are now free to use commercial tests for purposes other than those recommended by their developers and publishers. The freedom of test users has been reinforced by the action of the Congress in placing control of the VNT project with the National Assessment Governing Board, the same independent commission that oversees NAEP.
Accordingly, and because this study was mandated in the context of the discussion of the VNTs, the committee has considered whether it would be appropriate to make tracking, promotion, or graduation decisions about individual students based on their VNT scores. The committee recommends that the VNT not be used for decisions about the tracking, promotion, or graduation of individual students. The evidence for this recommendation is elaborated in the following sections.
The committee foresees several basic problems with using VNT scores to track individual students.