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The "explosion'' of standardized testing in schools in the past few years threatens the strength of the educational system, a new report by the National Center on Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) concludes.

At least 94 million standardized tests were administered to 40 million public-school students in 1986-87, the study found, for an average of more than two and a half tests per pupil.

Although no comparable figures exist for prior years, the study notes, the number of states that have added testing mandates has grown in the past three years. For example, it notes, between 1985 and 1987, the number of states requiring tests for graduation increased from 15 to 24; the number employing tests to determine whether students should be promoted grew from 8 to 12; and the number using standardized tests as part of statewide assessment increased from 37 to 42.

These trends pose a danger to schools, the report argues, since such tests may be inaccurate and biased against women and minorities. In addition, it says, they may narrow the curriculum and loosen local control over education.

Copies of the report, "Fallout From the Testing Explosion,'' are available for $8.95 each from FairTest, P.O. Box 1272, Cambridge, Mass. 02238.


The most common methods of removing lead-based paint may release dust particles that could be especially hazardous to children, a new report by a government-industry task force concludes.

Children who lived in homes whose paint had been removed with conventional techniques, the study found, were more likely to have higher levels of lead in their blood after the procedure than children living in homes where more up-to-date "model'' methods were used.

The research, financed by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department, was completed by the National Institute of Building Sciences.

The report concludes that "the abatement process may pose a more immediate hazard than the 'un-abated' intact lead-based paint unless the abatement is done properly.''

The task force urges the development of stricter standards for lead-based paint removal, similar to those in place for asbestos removal.

Exposure to lead can cause a variety of physical and mental impairments, particularly in young children.

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