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Do your kids prepare for tests a ton? Most do, and here's why that might change
A recent study indicated students in American schools take more than 100 tests by the time they finish 12th grade, and an Obama administration plan reads "in too many schools, there is unnecessary testing." So can students expect fewer soon? - photo by Payton Davis
Students in U.S. classrooms might need a calculator just to figure out how many tests they've taken because it's a lot, according to a new study.

And the introduction of Common Core is spurring discussion among lawmakers in regards to an over-emphasis on testing, according to an Associated Press report.

Between pre-K and 12th grade, students take an average of 112 "mandatory standardized exams," the AP reported. In addition, the study found kids put in between 20 and 25 hours a year taking the tests.

When considering preparation time and quizzes, tests take even more of students' focus than the study indicated, according to the AP.

"The study analyzed the time spent actually taking the tests, but it did not include the hours devoted to preparation ahead of the testing required by the federal government, states or local districts," the AP report states. "It also did not include regular day-to-day classroom quizzes and tests in reading, math, science, foreign languages and more."

Caitlin Emma wrote for Politico that the Obama administration took some blame for excessive testing after the study's release Saturday. A "testing action plan" read the administration "bears some of the responsibility for this, and we are committed to being part of the solution."

An obsession over testing was the topic of a Facebook video of President Barack Obama, Politico reported.

"When I look back on the great teachers who shaped my life, what I remember isn't the way they prepared me to take a standardized test," Obama said in the video. "What I remember is how they taught me to believe in myself to be curious about the world, to take charge of my own learning."

Teachers' unions and parents frustrated with the amount of testing rejoiced over the administration's acknowledgment it was part of the problem, but even advocates of fewer exams "urged the administration to not throw out the No. 2 pencils with the bath water," Kate Zernike wrote for The New York Times.

Why's that?

Zernike wrote a proposed cap on testing would make defining what constitutes an exam daunting and lead to schools "tangling" in federal regulations. The cap called for by the administration would make it so no student spends more than 2 percent of class time taking tests.

Critics consider the cap or any effort mostly focused on the number of tests or time spent testing "too simplistic," Lyndsey Layton and Emma Brown wrote for The Washington Post.

The next phase of the conversation cannot be about a cap, Alberto Carvalho, the superintendent of Miami-Dade schools told The Post. Its really a quantitative analysis. ... Can they actually improve teaching and learning? Are they useful to teachers, and do they transparently inform communities and parents about performance?

Zernike told PBS Newshour before testing took up students' time, little accountability for kids or teachers existed. Now, the pendulum "has swung too far" the other way, with exams gauging whether teachers attain tenure or students graduate.

All in all, the administration's announcement might be too late, and the cap on testing will be considered "a federal takeover," Zernike told PBS Newshour.

But American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten told Politico a new take on testing in the U.S. shows lawmakers have at least began to listen.

"Its a big deal that the president and the secretaries of education both current and future are saying that they get it and are pledging to address the fixation on testing in tangible ways," Politico quoted Weingarten. "Yes, the devil is in the details, but today its clear: Parents, students and educators, your voice matters and you were heard."
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