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Most states fall short on testing, government says


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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Most states are failing to pass muster with the government over student testing and may lose money unless they improve quickly.


The Education Department says 34 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have major problems with the tests that were supposed to be in place in the just-ended school year. They will get federal approval only if they correct the problems in the coming year.


In addition, Nebraska and Maine had their testing systems rejected outright.


They all face the threat of losing from $40,000 to more than $1 million of the money they receive to administer the No Child Left Behind law. In most cases, the total would be less than $100,000; Nebraska and Maine could lose one-quarter of their dollars.


The money would go instead to school districts, skipping state governments altogether.


The report card of the states, released Thursday, is intended to get them to finish the job.


President Bush's education law orders states to hold math and reading tests in the third- to eighth-grade, and once in high school. The deadline was the end of the 2005-06 school year.


Every state did have testing in the required grades. But many states still have significant problems, such as developing exams for disabled or limited-English students, or ensuring that tests are technically sound.


Texas, the home state of the president and Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, fell short because of a number of federal concerns, including whether the tests match up to the content that students are supposed to learn.


Only 10 states won full approval. Four others are expected to get there soon.


Deputy Education Secretary Ray Simon said the states' overall performances were positive. Even the 36 jurisdictions whose approval remains pending probably will get the federal OK within a year, he said.


"I think maybe the scope of the work was just more broad, difficult and time-consuming than many of them thought," Simon said Thursday. "I don't think there was any attempt for them to sit back, do nothing and say, 'Let's see how much we can get away with."'






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