Arkansas Education Official Says State Will Address Federal Concerns

JULY 10, 2006 - Posted at 7:33 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The U.S. Department of Education has said in a letter that Arkansas' Benchmark and End-of-Course tests lack basic features.  The state's education officials are to submit a plan to the agency by the end of the month addressing these concerns with the standardized tests.

The agency said its approval of the state tests is pending and the state is subject to "mandatory oversight" of how it uses some federal grant money.

Arkansas could lose some of that money if the state doesn't submit the plan by the end of July and address the concerns.

But Julie Johnson Thompson, a spokeswoman for the state Education Department, said state officials believe the federal agency's concerns can be quickly addressed.  She said the Arkansas tests assess higher-order thinking skills and understanding.

Each state developed testing programs in response to the federal No Child Left Behind Act.  And Arkansas is among many states to have approval of the state tests held up by the federal government.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)