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ND ranks high in spending for standardized testing

GRAND FORKS -- North Dakota is among the states that spent the most on standardized testing with $69 spent per student last year, according to a national report released Thursday.

The Brown Center on Education Policy found North Dakota's spending trailed only Delaware, Alaska, Hawaii and the District of Columbia, which spent $114 per student on assessment testing in Grades three through nine, the highest in the nation.

Minnesota's spending, at $53 per student, and South Dakota's spending, at $45 per student, were also comparatively high, landing them among the Top 10.

In general, states with large populations tend to have lower costs, perhaps due to better bargaining power with test makers, according to the report. New York state had the lowest testing expenses at $7 per student, for example.

The report is a response to the lack of comprehensive information on the cost of standardized testing brought about by No Child Left Behind legislation, wrote Matthew Chingos, a fellow with the Washington, D.C.,-based Brown Center. Some states are concerned the new Common Core State Standards replacing NCLB will raise testing costs further.

Chingos recommends states work together, allowing them to split the fixed costs of developing new tests among a larger number of students.

His report covered 45 states and the capital district, and calculated the spending based on states' contracts with test makers. Together, they spent roughly $1.7 billion last year on testing.

Connecticut, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming were not included because of a lack of data.

Standardized testing is a relatively small component of total spending on K-12 education, however.

North Dakota spent an average of $10,148 per student in fall 2011, according to the state Department of Public Instruction. Average daily attendance at that time was 96,987. The state plans to begin Common Core testing in the 2014-15 school year.

Minnesota spent an average of $10,229 per student during the 2009-10 school year, according to a 2011 legislative report. Average daily attendance was 799,224.