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Thousands of students across North Carolina have begun taking standardized end-of-year exams. Those kids who finish early are used to taking a nap or staring blankly into space. But there’s actually another option.  They can pick up a book. 

CMS fourth and eighth graders are performing about the same in math and reading as they were two years ago, according to the National Assessment of Education Progress.  The tests have been given to a sample of students across the country since 2003.  At a time when state tests are drastically changing, these scores provide a way to compare student performance from year to year. 

Standardized testing is nothing new in schools, but over the last several years the amount of it has significantly increased as the push for accountability has picked up. 

The state of North Carolina now administers 49 exams to students.  Some people in high positions have joined the backlash against all this testing and now the state is looking at ways to ease up a bit. 

Kids are half-way through the school year and no doubt talk of end of year tests has already come up in class.  There are some big changes in store for students across the state.  For one, there will be a lot more end of year tests and they won’t just be multiple choice.  They’ll include essay questions.  It’s not just kids that’ll be tested.  It’ll be a test for teachers in more ways than one. WFAE’s Lisa Miller is in the studio to talk about these changes, including a flood of new tests.