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Letter to Representative Petri Supporting the Assessment Accuracy and Improvement Act

May 29, 2009

Dear Representative Petri:

On behalf of the 3.2 million members of the National Education Association (NEA), we convey our support for your bill, the Assessment Accuracy and Improvement Act (H.R. 655), which would allow states to use “adaptive” tests to assess student achievement as required by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

Adaptive tests are generally administered on computers and widely used – the Graduate Record Examination is perhaps the best known example of these tests.  They vary in difficulty with each student’s performance, but report results on a scale common to all students.  Adaptive tests are more flexible and therefore more efficient to administer.  The same instrument can, for example, assess student achievement above and below grade level, while also measuring grade-level performance.

The data available from the pencil and paper tests currently permitted under NCLB is limited at best.  We applaud you for recognizing the need to capture better data through the use of adaptive testing.  The beauty of adaptive tests is their ability to adjust, immediately and with a great deal of accuracy, to a student’s performance.  Such tests are used by graduate school admissions officers and, should certainly be appropriate to help K-12 schools assess student achievement. 

We are pleased to offer our support for this important legislation and look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure great public schools for every student. 


Diane Shust
Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody
Manager of Federal Advocacy