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Assessment Expert Cornelia Orr Appointed Governing Board Executive Director

Assessment Expert Cornelia Orr Appointed Governing Board Executive Director


(May 18, 2009)—Members of the National Assessment Governing Board on Friday, May 15, appointed noted assessment expert Cornelia Smith Orr as the Board's new executive director.

Board Chairman Darvin Winick made the announcement at the Board's quarterly meeting in Seattle. Orr's many accomplishments include developing and administering the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). She currently is assistant deputy commissioner of accountability, research, and measurement for the Florida Department of Education.

"Cornelia's vast background in assessment will be an incredible asset to the Board as it will be overseeing a variety of developments related to The Nation's Report Card," said Winick. "I'm happy to have her on board and look forward to her leadership."

Orr will begin a three-year appointment on July 20 as head of the Governing Board's professional staff. The Board sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) - otherwise known as The Nation's Report Card.

Orr will oversee several major developments, including the Board's work in using NAEP assessments in reading and mathematics to measure 12th grade preparedness, a pilot 12th grade state assessment program in reading and math, and expansion of NAEP's Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) from 11 to 18 cities. TUDA is a special, voluntary study that has measured student performance in urban districts on math, reading, writing and science since 2002.

Orr, currently a Tallahassee, Fla., resident, has an extensive background in the assessment field that spans nearly three decades. Orr received a Ph.D. in Educational Research, Measurement, and Evaluation from Florida State University in 1982, with an emphasis in psychometrics, research design, and statistical methods.

Since then, Orr has served in a variety of capacities at the state and local level, related to testing, research, teaching, and policy development. Orr has directed numerous Florida K-12 and postsecondary assessment programs, including the FCAT, certification and college placement exams, reading diagnostic assessments, kindergarten screening, and others. She also managed test programs for Leon County (Fla.) Schools, among other positions. Orr will replace former Board executive director Charles Smith, currently Vice President of ACT's Washington, DC bureau.

Created by Congress in 1988, the Governing Board is made up of 26 members, including governors, state legislators, local and state school officials, educators and researchers, business representatives, and members of the general public. In overseeing The Nation's Report Card, the Board identifies subjects to be tested, determines the content and achievement levels for each assessment, approves all test questions, and takes steps to improve the reporting of results.

Stephaan Harris

The National Assessment of Educational Progress is the only nationally representative, continuing evaluation of the condition of education in the United States. It has served as a national yardstick of student achievement since 1969. Through the Nation's Report Card, NAEP informs the public about what American students know and can do in various subject areas and compares achievement between states, large urban districts, and various student demographic groups.
The National Assessment Governing Board is an independent, bipartisan board whose members include governors, state legislators, local and state school officials, educators, business representatives and members of the general public. Congress created the 26-member Governing Board in 1988 to oversee and set policy for NAEP.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is a congressionally authorized project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. The National Center for Education Statistics, within the Institute of Education Sciences, administers NAEP. The Commissioner of Education Statistics is responsible by law for carrying out the NAEP project.