A recent report by Santa Fe Public Schools says students in the local district spend between six and 15.5 hours taking standardized tests.

They may be among the luckier ones in the state, based on data from a new survey on testing presented Friday to the Legislative Education Study Committee. The survey included information from 55 of the state’s 89 school districts and showed that for the most part, New Mexico students in grades 3-11 spend well over 20 hours a year taking tests.

And it’s worse for those learning English. For instance, while the average third-grader in the state spends 21.64 hours testing each year, an English-language learner in that grade spends more than 27 hours taking tests. It’s toughest on 11th-graders in the state — they take just over 24 hours of tests a year, with English-language learners at that grade level spending more than 28 hours on testing.

The report lists some anomalies. Socorro’s seventh-graders spend 48.5 hours taking tests, more than twice the state average.

State Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Logan, superintendent of the Logan school district, said the discrepancy from district to district may confirm what the committee has long suspected: “That there’s an awful lot of districts administering tests over and above what is required because they either believe they have to or they are administering them for other reasons.”

For instance, all students in grades 3-11 must take the state’s Standards Based Assessments, but individual districts may be creating their own tests as well, he said.

He said he would like the Public Education Department to make sure districts know which tests are required by state law.

The state, which has adopted the new Common Core State Standards this year, will switch its math and reading tests from the current Standards Based Assessments to tests called PARCC — Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers — which are aligned with Common Core.

PARCC testing in math and reading is estimated to take about nine hours over two sessions in March and May. But students still have to take the state SBA exams for science, which take at least two hours.

A questionnaire within the legislative committee’s study shows that many districts have concerns about the new PARCC tests — which will be administered completely online, as opposed to the old pencil-and-paper method. Some districts voiced worries that the new tests — and preparation for them — will take more time than the old state tests. Los Lunas Public Schools, for instance, reported that it plans to give students practice tests that could take up to three hours per student to prepare for the PARCC.

Other districts voiced concerns about having a limited number of computer stations for all students taking the PARCC tests or experiencing technical difficulties that could slow the testing process.

Contact Robert Nott at 986-3021 or rnott@sfnewmexican.com.

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