The Education Department awarded $330 million to two groups of states to begin work on new national standardized assessments to test students' skills in math and English. The two groups -- which include 44 states -- will work with testing experts and university professors to design computer-based tests that measure higher-level abilities, such as synthesizing information and completing performance-based tasks. The tests, which will be given as end-of-year exams as well as during the school year to monitor progress, are expected to be in place by the 2014-15 school year.

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