AIMS Press Release

Press Release
Did You Know: Tempest
Over 4 Test Items
Achieve's claim that U.S.
education is behind based on International test misses details.

ยท Gilbert, AZ, March 12, 2001 : Data released
at the end of last year showed that Singapore was the leading
nation in science in the Third International Math and Science
Study-Repeat (TIMSS-R)? The USA came in thirteenth of 38 countries.
That does not sound good to those interested in such international
comparisons. In fact, it is just the kind of data used by Achieve,
founded by IBM CEO Leo Gerstner, to justify calling for tougher
standards and more testing. The corporate heads, however, should
have brushed up on their own investigative skills. It turns out
that the average number of items answered correctly by top-ranked
Singapore was 36. Thirteenth ranked USA got 32 items right.
A mere four items on a multiple choice test is what has helped
spark the campaign of the 'testing and accountability' movement
led by President George W. Bush and Arizona Superintendent of
Public Instruction, Lisa Graham Keegan among others. This hardly
offers substantial justification for pouring big bucks into yet
another testing program. It appears that the TIMSS-R ranking of
U.S. students in science does not reveal an educational disaster.

Moreover, the White American sample performed decidedly above
average while the Black and Hispanic samples did not. In TIMSS-R
the White American sample would have tied for 13th place in math
and finished 6th in science if U.S. scores were made up of only
the White American sample. African American children would have
finished 31st in math and 32nd in science. The Latino population
would have finished 29th in math and 27th in science. Essentially,
the White American sample scores with most European nations.
The scores of the African American sample resemble countries like
Iran, Cyprus and Kuwait. Experts in the field of education agree
that opportunity to learn (OTL)--unequal access to fully credentialed
science teachers, unequal access to well-equipped science labs,
unequal access to rich science curricula, unequal access to teaching
that focuses on deep understanding (the current focus in the U.S.
is on knowing the formulas and getting the right answers)--is
among the causes that lie behind this problem. Corporate heads
have yet to work on standards for opportunity to learn amid the
distractions of punitive testing programs in the United States.

This press release is first in a series on too often
hidden
facts about test-driven education reform
from members of the Assessment Reform Network