January 15, 2004, Extra Credit
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January 15, 2004
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 January 14
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Q&A on Testing, Part I

What impact does testing have on children?

Although testing may be stressful for some students, testing is a normal and expected way of assessing what students have learned. The purpose of state assessments required under No Child Left Behind is to provide an independent insight into each child's progress, as well as each school's. This information is essential for parents, schools, districts and states in their efforts to ensure that no child—regardless of race, ethnic group, gender or family income—is trapped in a consistently low-performing school.
Will the results of a child's tests be private?

Absolutely. Only the parents and school receive the results of an individual child's tests. Individual student scores will not be made public. They are not a part of student achievement data on report cards issued by districts and states.
On what subjects are students tested and when?

No Child Left Behind requires that, by the 2005-06 school year, each state must measure every child's progress in reading and math in each of grades 3 through 8 and at least once during grades 10 through 12. By school year 2007-2008, states must also have in place science assessments to be administered at least once during grades 3-5; grades 6-9; and grades 10-12. Further, states must ensure that districts administer tests of English proficiency—to measure oral language, reading and writing skills in English—to all limited English proficient students, as of the 2002-03 school year. Students may still undergo state assessments in other subject areas (i.e., history, geography and writing skills), if and when the state requires it. No Child Left Behind, however, requires assessments only in the areas of reading/language arts, math and science.
How is testing handled for children with disabilities? How is it handled for those with limited English proficiency?

No Child Left Behind requires that all children be assessed. In order to show adequate yearly progress, schools must test at least 95 percent of the various subgroups of children, including their students with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency. States must provide reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities or limited English proficiency. For the latter, accommodations may include native-language versions of the assessment; however, in the area of reading and language arts, students who have been in U.S. schools for three consecutive years will be assessed in English. For more information on accommodations in a particular state, contact the appropriate state education agency.
Some say that testing causes teachers to teach to the test. Is that true?

State assessments are expected to measure how well students meet the state's academic standards, which define what students should know and be able to do in different subject areas at different grade levels. Curriculum based on state standards should be taught in the classroom. If teachers cover subject matter required by the standards and teach it well, then students will master the material on which they will be tested—and probably much more. In that case, students will need no special test preparation in order to do well.

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NCLB Extra Credit is a regular look at the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's landmark education reform initiative passed with bipartisan support in Congress.

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Last Modified: 01/16/2008