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November 2006 | Volume 64 | Number 3
NCLB: Taking Stock, Looking Forward Pages 43-46

What Are NCLB's Instructional Costs?

Michael B. Zellmer, Anthony Frontier and Denise Pheifer

A survey conducted by Wisconsin ASCD finds that testing mandates have forced schools to divert resources away from teaching and learning.

How do the testing mandates of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) affect schools and students? Last November, while bipartisan politics and philosophical debates continued, 435,000 Wisconsin students sat down for an average of six and one-half hours each and took the expanded Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam (WKCE) required for NCLB accountability. As the dialogue about the 2007 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) unfolds this fall in the United States, it is imperative that we look beyond the rhetoric and consider the effect of NCLB testing on students and schools.

Then and Now

In the last few years, Wisconsin has expanded its state testing to comply with NCLB. WKCE reading and mathematics tests, formerly administered to students in grades 4, 8, and 10, are now given in grades 3, 5, 6, and 7 as well. In all, these assessments require 4.75 to 8.66 hours of administration time annually for each student. In 2004–2005, Wisconsin students spent a total of about 1.4 million hours taking state tests; with full implementation of NCLB testing, that number will more than double, to 2.9 million. These figures do not include the time spent distributing and collecting materials, taking practice tests, giving instructions, and addressing other logistics of testing.


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