A newly released study from Teach Plus demonstrates that urban students spend an average of only 1.7 percent of the school year taking state and district-required tests. The report, “The Student and the Stopwatch: How Much Time is Spent on Testing in American Schools,” also finds that students in “high-test” districts spend up to 5x as much time on test taking as students in “low-test” districts.
Teach Plus, a national non-profit that puts teacher leaders at the center of school and system-level reform, conducted the research in 12 urban and 20 surrounding suburban districts nationwide, with input from hundreds of kindergarten, third and seventh grade teachers.
Report findings include:
- Across 12 urban districts in the study, the average amount of time students spend on state and district tests equals 1.7 percent of the school year in third and seventh year and substantially less in kindergarten. The data reflects the amount of test time that the districts currently share with parents and the general public.
- The variation in test time across urban districts is large, with high-test districts spending 5x as much time on testing as low-test districts. The variation between high-test and low-test districts can be as high as 120 hours. After nine school years, this amounts to about 22 instructional days, or more than four weeks of school.
- Teachers calculate test administration time to be more than double the length reported in district calendars in elementary grades. On average, teachers reported spending about three times as much time in kindergarten and twice as much in third grade as the amount of time set aside for testing on district calendars. In seventh grade, the report on time-on-testing from teachers was closer to what the district calendars reported.