North Dakota officials say schools need to evaluate testing



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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota education officials say the number of standardized tests and the amount of time spent on those has become excessive.

Students across the state spend an average of less than 1 percent of their classroom time on testing, but State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler told The Bismarck Tribune (http://bit.ly/2aZzRkg ) that "there's been a lot of piling on over the last 15 years."

A 2015 Department of Public Instruction statewide survey of school districts shows the majority of local testing takes place from kindergarten to fifth grade. During those years, a student in Bismarck will take 41 tests, and one in Mandan will be tested 30 times.

In Bismarck, kindergartners are tested seven times a year, compared to five in Mandan.

Many schools administer more tests than required under federal and state law. Baesler said that as schools find new and better tests, they add them to the list without doing away with old ones.

The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction would like to cut back on the amount of standardized assessments that local school districts are administering on their own.

In an effort to downsize, the agency is providing an optional evaluation for school districts to determine whether they could streamline or reduce standardized tests. Additionally, the department is offering a program to train schools to evaluate whether they have balanced assessment systems.

"(Assessments) provide good feedback, but we've gotten to a point where I think there is some opportunity for us to reduce the amount of time that we have our students spend on testing, and the amount of tests that our students are asked to sit for," Baesler said.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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The Associated Press

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