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Release: Immediate

National testing expert discusses proposed national tests Oct. 23 at UI

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A nationally known expert on large-scale educational testing will discuss some of the difficult design issues faced by proposed national standardized tests at 3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23 at the University of Iowa College of Education.

Robert L. Linn, co-director of the Center for Research on Evaluation Standards and Student Testing (CRESST) at the Universities of California at Los Angeles and Colorado at Boulder, will present the third annual William E. Coffman Lecture in Jones Commons (N300) of the Lindquist Center.

The topic of the talk is "Validity, Utility, Credibility and the Proposed Voluntary National Tests."

Lectures in the series, sponsored by the Iowa Testing Programs and the Iowa Measurement Research Foundation at the UI College of Education, are free and open to the public.

Linn, who is also a distinguished professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, has published widely in the field of educational measurement and has held a number of national offices in the field.

President Clinton has proposed a plan to test the reading skills of all fourth-graders in the country and the mathematics skills of all eighth-graders. The tests, which would be voluntary, have sparked controversies in both political and educational arenas.

One of CRESST's current projects is to explore the interplay of validity, credibility and utility when standardized tests are given to large numbers of students. Those are some of the issues that national tests will also have to address, Linn says.

"Although it is easy to dismiss some of the wrangling over the proposed voluntary national tests as nothing more than partisan politics, the debate also involves issues that are fundamental to the enterprise of large-scale educational assessment as currently practiced by states and large districts throughout the country," Linn says.

Robert Brennan, director of the Iowa Testing Programs and the E.F. Lindquist Professor of Educational Measurement, says Linn is a national figure in educational measurement.

"Bob Linn is undoubtedly one of the most highly regarded measurement experts in the country, not only for his research, but also for his sage counsel on a number of issues in the field of educational measurement," Brennan says. "He has justifiably received virtually every award the field has to offer."

As guest speaker, Linn will also participate in several discussion sessions with graduate students, the staff of the Iowa Testing Programs and the faculty of the UI College of Education.

William E. Coffman served on the faculty of the Division of Psychological and Quantitative Foundations of Education from 1969 to 1981. During that time, he was director of the Iowa Testing Programs as well as the first E.F. Lindquist Professor of Educational Measurement.

While at the UI, Coffman was recognized for his writings on the reliability and validity of essay examinations as measurements of educational achievement. He is currently an emeritus professor in the College of Education.

The Coffman Lecture Series is administered by the Iowa Testing Programs and the Division of Psychological and Quantitative Foundations of Education.