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The Numerous Tests of No Child Left Behind

Much of the discontent with the 2001 education law known as No Child Left Behind has stemmed from the rising number of standardized tests children must take every year.

Although the federal government takes much of the blame for this increase, federal law only mandates 17 tests: in reading and math annually in third through eighth grades and once in high school, and in science one time each in elementary, middle and high school.

The Council of Great City Schools, which represents large urban districts, and the Council of Chief State School Officers, which represents state education secretaries, this fall agreed to review and, if necessary, re-evaluate the number of tests given to students each year.

Research from the city schools group found:

Students in large urban districts take an average of 113 tests over their school careers, and those tests are given for 23 separate purposes.

Eleventh grade is the most heavily tested, taking up 27 days without counting college entrance tests such as the SAT or final tests in Advanced Placement classes.

Eighth graders sit for an average of five days of testing just for state- and locally mandated end-of-course exams.

More tests have been added over the years but they are not providing much in the way of new data.

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