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新冠肺炎疫情期間，美國國家教育統計中心（National Center for Education Statistics）宣佈延後舉辦該國 2 年一度的國家教育進展評測（National Assessment of Educational Progress）。該單位表示，相關考試若要在 2021 年如期舉行，除了龐大的考試費用，測驗結果恐無法有效地顯示學生的學習成果。這項決定受國家評量指導委員會（National Assessment Governing Board）和其他教育單位的支持。此外，一年一度的州立考試是否將於 2021 年進行也仍在商議之中。該考試已於 2020 年停辦一次。
National reading and math tests long used to track what U.S. students know in those subjects are being postponed from next year to 2022 over concerns about whether testing would be feasible or produce valid results during the coronavirus pandemic, the National Center for Education Statistics announced Wednesday.
The biennial National Assessment of Educational Progress evaluations used for the Nation's Report Card were slated for early next year for hundreds of thousands of the country's fourth- and eighth-graders. But widespread remote learning and health protocols would have added big complications and costs because the model uses shared equipment and sends outside proctors to conduct the testing in schools.
Pushing ahead with testing in 2021 runs the risk of spending tens of millions of dollars and still not getting the data necessary to produce a reliable, comparable picture of state and national student performance, NCES Commissioner James Woodworth said in a statement. By law, they would have to wait another two years for the next chance at testing.
Testing in 2022 instead "would be more likely to provide valuable — and valid — data about student achievement in the wake of COVID-19 to support effective policy, research, and resource allocation," the leaders of the National Assessment Governing Board said in a separate statement supporting the move.
The nonpartisan Council of Chief State School Officers also supported the NAEP postponement.
Ohio Department of Education spokesperson Mandy Minick called it "entirely understandable" given the extensive disruptions schools are facing.
"I think we're all on the same page about trying to stress health and safety," she said.
However, the decision also delays data that could help show how the pandemic is impacting learning.
Woodworth suggested that results from states' annual tests — generally conducted using schools' own equipment and staff, and perhaps therefore more feasible than the national tests — could help bridge the gap and provide a state-level look at the impact. But the NAEP postponement might have ripple effects in the debate about whether those state tests even happen in spring 2021.
State tests, which are federally mandated and are used more for accountability purposes, were canceled last spring under federal waivers as the pandemic surged. The current presidential administration had indicated states shouldn't expect to be granted another round of waivers if they request them, but it's an issue likely to come up again after President-elect Joe Biden's administration takes office.
"If the national assessment can't be done in '21, states are legitimately going to say, 'Well, why are we expected to test in '21?'" said Chester Finn, a former chair of the National Assessment Governing Board and president emeritus of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute who advocates results-based accountability.
If states get to skip the tests again this spring, that could create a multiyear gap in data that helps inform other decisions and identify concerns, and that's problematic, Finn said.
"If you're not held accountable for your results, or there's no way to do it because there's no information about your results, then all sorts of bad things happen to the education system and to the kids in the education system," he said. "We sort of go back to the pre-accountability days, when, you know, the only thing you knew about a kid's learning was the teachers' grades, and the only thing you knew about a school's performance was what the principal said it was, and nobody had data on gaps between different groups of kids.”
註 1： track 於本文為動詞，意指「追蹤，記錄 ... 的進展」；本字也可作名詞，常見意思為「（鐵路的）軌道」或「賽道；跑道」
註 2：slate 於本文指「預計，預定；安排」；本字也常指「抨擊，批評」
註 3：remote 於本文指「（電腦系統）遠端的」；本字也常指「遙遠的；偏僻的」
註 4：stress 於本文為動詞，意指「強調，著重」；本字也可作名詞，常見意思為「緊張，壓力」
註 5：bridge the gap 指「彌合差距；彌補隔閡；消除差異」；bridge 於本文為動詞，意指「減小 ... 之間的差異」，該字也可作名詞，常見意思為「橋；橋樑」或「鼻樑」
註 6：ripple effect 由 “ripple”「漣漪；微波；細浪」與 “effect”「效果；影響；結果」組成；意指「連鎖反應」
註 7：grant 於本文為動詞，意指「同意，准予，授予」；本字也可作名詞，常見意思為「撥款，補助金」
註 8：advocate 於本文為動詞，意指「主張；提倡」；本字也可作名詞，常見意思為「主張人；提倡者」
Check your comprehension!
Choose the BEST answer to each of the questions below. After you finish, highlight the parentheses to reveal the hidden answers.
1. ( D ) According to the article, what is a concern leading to the postponement of NAEP?
(A) Whether proctors know how to deliver the tests remotely.
(B) Whether students have access to the internet.
(C) Whether online testing would be attainable.
(D) Whether test taking would provide effective results.
2. ( A ) What does the word "stress" refer to in the article?
3. ( C ) Which of the following descriptions of state tests is INCORRECT?
(A) They are required to be taken by the federal government.
(B) They are usually taken using school's own tools and employees.
(C) They are taken to understand what students know in specific subjects.
(D) They are to be taken on a yearly basis.