Based on a detailed grade-by-grade analysis of the testing calendars for two mid-size urban school districts, and the applied research from other studies of state mandated testing, this study found that the time students spend taking tests ranged from 20 to 50 hours per year in heavily tested grades. In addition, students can spend 60 to more than 110 hours per year in test prep in high-stakes testing grades. Including the cost of lost instructional time (at $6.15 per hour, equivalent to the per-student cost of adding one hour to the school day), the estimated annual testing cost per pupil ranged from $700 to more than $1,000 per pupil in several grades that had the most testing. If testing were abandoned altogether, one school district in this study could add from 20 to 40 minutes of instruction to each school day for most grades. The other school district would be able to add almost an entire class period to the school day for grades 6-11. Additionally, in most grades, more than $100 per test-taker could be reallocated to purchase instructional programs, technology or to buy better tests. Cutting testing time and costs in half still would yield significant gains to the instructional day, and free up enough dollars in the budget that could fund tests that are better aligned to the standards and produce useful information for teachers, students and parents.
Nelson, H. (2013). . Chicago, IL: American Federation of Teachers.