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Minn. Union Seeks Elimination of NCLB Test

A Minnesota teachers' union wants its district to agree to stop administering a federally required exam, reports Tim Post at Minnesota Public Radio.

Anti-testing sentiment is nothing new, but what stands out about this particular instance is that the exam in question is a federal requirement under the No Child Left Behind Act.

The St. Paul Federation of Teachers has made eliminating the test one of its priorities for contract negotiations.

To be clear, administering the NCLB tests is a condition of receiving federal Title I funds for disadvantaged students. The district could choose to stop giving the exam, but it would probably forfeit its share of Title I money as a result.

By contrast, a recent (and successful) testing boycott in Seattle involved an exam that the school district, not the feds, required. And as an American Federation of Teachers case study recently indicated, much of the time spent on testing and test-prep seems driven by exams that districts have put into place, and that are not required by states or the federal government. These include "interim" exams that are supposed to predict how well students will do on the year-end tests.

Chicago recently announced, in response to pressure from its teachers' union and others, plans to reduce the number of nonmandatory exams. Post's story indicates that St. Paul has cut back on some optional ones, too.

For many unions, though, eliminating or significantly reducing federally mandated exams remains an elusive goal: Even states granted relief from some portions of the NCLB law (Minnesota is one of them) by the U.S. Department of Education must continue to administer assessments in grades 3-8 and once in high school.

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