If you can remember your school days (or if you are still in the midst of them), you are no doubt aware of the ubiquity of standardized testing. After all, standardized tests are what the world uses to measure how its students are doing in their studying efforts. If a student does not score especially highly on a test that any student should theoretically do well in, then the school might be at fault in its teaching efforts. It is less about cramming for a particular subject (as most tests are), and is more about having a general sense of several different subject areas. But when it comes right down to it, are standardized tests that great of an indicator that a school system is accomplishing the goals that it sets out to reach?
On the one hand, a standardized test is designed around having knowledge of the functional aspects of a reasonably diverse range of different subjects. And while the different subject matter sets can vary widely, the idea is that a student who has pursued a course of study that features those particular bits of subject matter should be able to do well on the test. This is not about what you learned last week or read last night, but about what you would know if required to at any given moment. That is very important.
But on the other hand, it is often the case that schools will teach to the test, as they say. And while guiding students to be able to do well on the test is nice for bragging rights, the original point of these tests was to assess a general state of knowledgeability, as opposed to simply drilling the students on a particular set of subjects over and over again for the test’s sake. Unfortunately, it is the nature of human beings to do what they are expected to do to get ahead. So tests really do work.