Secretary Picks Fellow
Texan To Head Assessment Board
by Lynn Olson, Education Week, September 4, 2002
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Secretary of Education Rod
Paige has selected Darvin M. Winick, a fellow Texan and a
former consultant to the Education Department, as the new
chairman of the governing board that oversees the National
Assessment of Educational Progress.
The appointment of Mr. Winick, a senior research fellow in the
college of education at the University of Texas at Austin,
underscores the importance the Bush administration places on
the national assessment, an independent barometer of academic
achievement across the 50 states. He will take over the post
Oct. 1. The announcement of his appointment was made at the
governing board's meeting here last month.
Mr. Winick, a psychologist and career organizational
consultant, has been active in Texas education politics since
the early 1980s. He helped found the Texas Business and
Education Coalition, an Austin-based group that has played an
influential role in shaping and promoting education
legislation in the state.
Although his appointment to the National Assessment
Governing Board, or NAGB, which oversees the assessment, was
not unexpected, the decision to name him chairman without any
prior experience on the board was.
"He is one of those technically competent guys, like a
plumber, who's really put together the fine points of the
Texas accountability system," said Uri Treisman, the director
of the Dana Center at UT-Austin. "You need people who are
meticulous, and who know how to strategize about
implementation schedules, the exact wording of accountability
requirements, and Darvin Winick has been brilliant at this and
really deserves a lot of credit."
Mr. Winick will replace Mark D. Musick, the president of the
Atlanta-based Southern Regional Education Board, as chairman.
Mr. Musick, the only member of NAGB who has served on the
board since it was established in 1988, has chaired the panel
for half its 14 years. He has one year left to serve on the
"I think the board and Chairman Musick have done a really
exceptional job of steering an independent, quality
organization to do educational measurement for the country,"
Mr. Winick said in an interview last week. The challenge
ahead, he said, is to maintain that integrity given the
additional focus on NAEP brought about by the "No Child Left
Behind" Act of 2001, signed by President Bush in January.
Secretary Paige was expected to appoint as many as eight
individuals to the board late last month, either replacing
members whose terms expire this fall or reappointing them. The
governing board is made up of 26 members who serve overlapping
four-year terms. As vacancies occur, the secretary appoints
new members, typically from among candidates nominated by the
board itself. The secretary can also name individuals to the
board, such as Mr. Winick
Mr. Paige chose Mr. Winick to fill one of the spots reserved
for the general public.
Policy Actions Taken
During the NAGB meeting, Aug. 1-3, the board approved a
number of policies to comply with requirements in the No Child
Left Behind legislation, the revamped Elementary and Secondary
Education Act. Those included:
Adopting a policy on informing parents about their right to
exclude their children from NAEP participation. All schools
participating in the assessment must notify parents in writing
about the law's "opt out" provision and keep a dated copy of
the information given to parents. But the board's resolution
permits states, districts, or schools to determine how parents
will be notified.
Endorsing procedures for providing public access to secure
NAEP questions and instruments. The procedures give members of
the public access to secure test items within 45 days of a
written request, provided that test security is maintained.
Participants must sign a confidentiality agreement documenting
that they had the opportunity to review the items and
understand that any disclosure, unauthorized use, or
reproduction of materials will result in a felony charge.
Approving a pilot study of a nationally representative sample
of 4th graders in charter schools, as part of the 2003 NAEP
tests in reading and mathematics. In addition to the charter
schools that would be included in the regular state samples,
the pilot study would oversample charter schools in
California, Michigan, and Texas, which have the highest
proportion of charter school students, at an added cost of
about $500,000. The board also agreed to expand the number of
urban districts taking part in a "trial" urban assessment,
which yields district-level results, from five in 2002 to 10
Endorsing a Spanish translation of the NAEP math tests, to be
given to 4th and 8th graders in Puerto Rico next year on a
"research and development" basis. Under federal law, the U.S.
commonwealth must participate in NAEP reading and math tests
beginning in 2003 to receive federal Title I aid. Yet Spanish,
not English, is the language of instruction on the island. Too
many technical, logistical, and resource questions remained
unanswered, the board decided, to give a Spanish-language
version of the NAEP reading test in Puerto Rico next year.
Changing the schedule of NAEP tests. The board voted to
conduct long-term-trend assessments, which track changes in
student performance since the 1960s, in reading and math only.
The long-term trend in science will be dropped, partly because
too many of the items need to be replaced. The board also
voted to conduct the 2007 writing test in 8th grade only,
eliminating the 4th grade assessment. Testing 12th graders
remains an option. In addition, the board will limit the 2008
arts assessment to a national probe in grade 8, rather than
expanding it to grades 4 and 12, as was previously
The changes were made to limit the testing burden on states
and the costs of the assessments, given the mandated testing
required under the new ESEA. Seniors will continue getting
tested in reading and math once every four years, as is now
the practice. The board also adopted the test framework,
specifications, and background variables for the first-ever
NAEP economics assessment, to be given to a national sample of
12th graders in 2006.
Roy Truby, the executive director of the board,
recommended forming a commission to conduct a comprehensive
review of the 12th grade NAEP. Mr. Truby said such a
commission was needed because "there's not a lot of
confidence" in the survey of high school seniors, despite its
importance. He agreed to devise a work plan for consideration
at the board's November meeting.
The board also plans to conduct a series of studies on how to
improve the state sampling procedures under NAEP in order to
increase the tests' precision in measuring gaps in performance
between different groups of students. Board member Edward H.
Haertel, a measurement expert and professor of education at
Stanford University, will chair a committee to oversee the
Meanwhile, the board continued its search for a replacement
for Mr. Truby, who is retiring at the end of October, after
almost 14 years as executive director.