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Exam overload? MN lawmakers look at cutting back standardized tests

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Are Minnesota students spending too much classroom time preparing for standardized tests?

The leader of a state Senate committee suspects they are and is looking for ways to reduce the number of mandatory tests in Minnesota's schools.

Sen. Charles Wiger, a DFLer from Maplewood, tells KSTP students take dozens of Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) exams from first grade through high school and says classroom prep time for the tests " way too long and adds up to a lot of hours that students and teachers could be using more wisely."

Wiger chairs the Education Committee, which held a hearing Monday to consider how to cut back on tests. He tells KSTP it's not clear how many tests could be eliminated and federal approval would be needed to get rid of them.

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Minnesota has already made some changes to its roster of tests, getting rid of some in the past legislative session that were meant to measure college and career readiness.

The Associated Press reports there were some voices at Monday's hearing defending the tests. The Minnesota Business Partnership and an advocacy group focused on reducing the achievement gap said testing provides a crucial look at how schools and districts are doing, the AP says.

Critics of the number of tests may be gaining momentum, though. Minnesota's teacher's union and Gov. Mark Dayton have said there are too many.

Over the weekend, President Obama called for limiting classroom time spent on exams.

The president spoke about the issue on the same day a study was released putting the average number of tests taken by an American student from pre-school through high school at 112.

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