Although he likes the proposal, Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, has doubts about whether a plan to revamp testing for Utah students will actually fly with the feds.

The Governor's Blue Ribbon Panel on Assessment recommends eliminating not-as-valuable testing time and putting it toward formative testing — ongoing testing in the classroom that gives teachers immediate feedback and tells educators where the students are academically.

"This provides assessment that is not disruptive to the classes," said Sen. Howard A. Stephenson, Senate chairman, R-Draper. He spoke to the legislative education committee after hearing a report on the panel's proposal during an interim meeting Wednesday.

Bishop, who had been invited to address the committee, calls the panel's proposal an effort of creativity, adding that is why he thinks it will fail on the federal level. "There is nothing wrong with creativity, except for some reason they don't like it back there."

Bishop, who has served for a year and a half on Congress' education committee, said, "They really don't understand education. The state's creativity will not be rewarded, it will be penalized."

The panel's plan calls for eliminating three tests: the Criterion-Referenced Test, which is an end-of-level exam used for supplying data for the federally mandated No Child Left Behind initiative; the Utah Basic Skills Competency Test, which students are to pass before graduation or face receiving a diploma that indicates they did not pass the exam; and the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, which shows educators how Utah kids are doing as compared nationally.

Instead, students would be assessed with a variety of tests, including EXPLORE, PLAN, Accuplacer and the pre-college ACT.

"We are hoping to have this plan well received by the U.S. Department of Education," said Patti Harrington, state superintendent of public instruction.

The panel has taken its proposal on the road with six public hearings. The last session is from 4-6 p.m. today in Iron County School District offices, 2077 W. Royal Hunte Drive in Cedar City.

The panel will meet next week to finalize its proposal. From there it will be pitched to the governor in early September. The 35-person committee includes USOE officials, legislators, parents, teachers and administrators.

To submit comments on the proposal, e-mail vicky.smith@schools.utah.gov.

For information on the proposal, go to the USOE Web site: www.usoe.k12.ut.us/


E-mail: astewart@desnews.com