Standardized Testing

For the first time in 25 years, America's fourth- and eighth-graders are doing worse in math, at least according to The National Assessment of Educational Progress.

NAEP, also known as the Nation's Report Card, tests students in both grades every two years on math and reading ability. This year, math scores reversed a long, upward trend with both grades testing lower than they did in 2013.

President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are meeting today with teachers and school officials to discuss ways to reduce the amount of time students spend on standardized testing. Over the weekend, the president called for making sure tests are “fair” and “high quality” and only take up 2 percent of classroom time.

The standardized tests Texas students will take in the spring will be harder to pass. That’s because state Education Commissioner Michael Williams this week announced tougher grading requirements.

But student performance on the so-called STAAR test hasn’t improved as expected, and one education expert believes more students will fail.

Waking up early on a Saturday. Sharpened No. 2 pencils and a calculator. For teenagers headed to a four-year college, taking a standardized entrance exam such as the ACT and SAT is typically a requirement. But it's far from a universal experience.

In 50 of the largest U.S. cities, examined in a new report from the University of Washington, Bothell's nonpartisan Center on Reinventing Public Education, fewer than 1 in 3 students takes either of those tests in a given year.

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Texas more than $2.6 million in grants to help low-income students take Advanced Placement tests.

“The cost of an AP exam is $91 and this grant knocks $16 off that price,” said Debbie Ratcliffe with the Texas Education Agency.

“We have other fee subsidies through the state, the local districts, and the College Board itself. So by the time all those fees are added together, those fee waivers, the cost of the exam can drop from $91 to only $7 for our low income kids.”

More and more kids are taking the tests.