February 5, 1998
The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 2846, and if the bill were
presented to the President in its current form, he would veto it.
H.R. 2846 would override current law and enact a permanent ban on the use of Department of Education funds for any work on the voluntary national tests in 4th grade reading and 8th grade mathematics beyond the preliminary work described in the Department's FY 1998 appropriations act. The ban would also prohibit additional work on the tests by the independent, bipartisan National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) and would remain in place until explicit authorizing legislation is enacted.
National tests are critical because they will provide students, parents, and teachers the opportunity to measure how well students are performing in comparison to national standards and international benchmarks. As a result, national tests will help hold schools accountable to parents and communities for the performance of all students.
H.R. 2846 is clearly inconsistent with the bipartisan agreement enacted last fall, which makes NABG responsible for the development and administration of the test, and which calls for the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to conduct a series of studies that would help inform future deliberations by the Congress and the Administration relating to this important issue. By passing H.R. 2846, the House will undermine NAGB's role and will prejudge the findings of the NAS studies, which have not been completed, and jeopardize the progress being made in developing the national tests.