National assessment: a comparison of English and American trends
National assessment has been in operation in England and Wales since 1975 and in the USA since 1969. In its early days, the English model — the Assessment of Performance Unit (APU) — was modelled on the American National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) with a key role to monitor standards. Around 1983, however, the APU began to change its focus and to analyse its data for professional development purposes. Currently it is moving towards supporting the assessment of the new national curriculum. By 1993 it will be rolled up into the national curriculum assessment programme and will disappear. With the emphasis that this latter programme has on competition and comparison, accountability and the market place, national assessment in the UK will have gone well away from its ‘professional’ role in the 1980s and moved back to a ‘standards’ and accountability model. NAEP, too, is now to be involved in testing at state level to allow state-by-state comparisons (and, ultimately, school comparisons with national data).