Study: Too many mandatory tests harming U.S. education

WASHINGTON — A new study backs up parents and teachers who say standardized testing is overwhelming the American education system. It also reinforces the position of President Obama, who on Saturday announced new guidelines on standardized testing, saying children spend too much time taking “unnecessary” exams in schools.

A new two-year study by the Council of the Great City Schools, a national organization that represents the needs of urban public schools,  shows the average student will take around 112 standardized tests before graduating high school. That works out to as much as 25 hours per year spent taking mandated tests.

The research also finds that the tests are often redundant and uncoordinated, and that the results frequently overlap.

Teachers surveyed complained that they were forced to teach to the test and lost out on valuable class time. Schools in some districts had to wait up to four months for the test results, leaving little or no time to use the information to help a student.

Congress, the Department of Education, states and local school districts have all contributed to the explosion in mandatory testing requirements.

The Council has made preliminary recommendations for reform based on the study results. The recommendations call for eliminating tests that are redundant or of low quality, but retaining current annual tests in core subjects.

The Council will also be launching a commission that will “develop a more thoughtful approach to assessing the academic needs of our urban schoolchildren.”

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