While the benefit to students from the No Child Left Behind law is questionable (they can read the test, but can they think?) there is no doubt that the testing industry is making large gains as a result of the law. The Government Accountability Office estimates that states will spend between $1.9 and $5.3 billion on standardized testing over the next six years. With that much money floating around, many more companies with no previous experience in the business are jumping into the "game".
However, not included in the GAO’s estimates is the huge amounts of money being spent by local school districts on test preparation systems, along with "better data-analysis and reporting tools".
But the demand for diagnostic results also has produced a huge “aftermarket” of formative and interim assessments for classroom use to help teachers teach better and students learn better, he said. “The formative-assessment market is a big one, and it’s growing like crazy, and it’s accompanied by a lot of professional development to help teachers use those.”
Many of the same companies who create the tests also offer these "aftermarket" products to prepare students for the tests and then analyze the results.
When I look at all the money being spent on test preparation just by the overly large school system I work for, it is truly depressing. Not to mention the time diverted from actual teaching and learning. Very little of this will actually improve student learning or help teachers do their jobs better. It will only make kids better able to take standardized tests. And we all know how many times in real life we are called upon to use those skills.