Valerie Strauss here links to a two-year study conducted by the Council for Great City Schools, which documented that American students are drowning in standardized tests. In some schools, testing is the most important activity of the year.

Strauss writes:

The average student in America’s big-city public schools takes some 112 mandatory standardized tests between pre-kindergarten and the end of 12th grade — an average of about eight a year, the study says. That eats up between 20 and 25 hours every school year, the study says. As for the results, they often overlap. On top of all that are teacher-written tests, sometimes taken by students along with standardized tests in the very same subject.

In 66 school systems studied by the Council of the Great City Schools, a nonprofit organization that represents the largest urban public school systems in the country, students in the 2014-15 school year sat over 6,500 times for tests, taking tests with 401 different titles. (See all the major findings below.)

High-stakes standardized testing has become a hallmark of modern school reform for well over a dozen years, starting with the use of these exams in the 2002 No Child Left Behind law to hold schools “accountable.” The stakes for these exams were increased with President Obama’s $4.3 billion Race to the Top funding competition, in which states could win federal education funding by promising to undertake specific reforms — including evaluating teachers by test scores and adopting “common standards.”

Here are some key points from the report:

* Testing pursuant to NCLB in grades three through eight and once in high school in reading and mathematics is universal across all cities. Science testing is also universal according to the grade bands specified in NCLB.

* Testing in grades PK-2 is less prevalent than in other grades, but survey results indicate that testing in these grades is common as well. These tests are required more by districts than by states, and they vary considerably across districts even within the same state.

* Middle school students are more likely than elementary school students to take tests in science, writing, technology, and end-of-course (EOC) exams.

* The average amount of testing time devoted to mandated tests among eighth-grade students in the 2014-15 school year was approximately 4.22 days or 2.34 percent of school time. (Eighth grade was the grade in which testing time was the highest.) (This only counted time spent on tests that were required for all students in the eighth grade and does not include time to administer or prepare for testing, nor does it include sample, optional, and special-population testing.)

* Testing time in districts i
s determined as much by the number of times assessments are given during the school year as it is by the number of assessments.

* There is no correlation between the amount of mandated testing time and the reading and math scores in grades four and eight on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).