top of page
  • Susan Stoderl

Child Literacy | The Pros and Cons of Standardized Testing in Public Education| Part 1

In the United States, standardized tests in public education have been around since the mid-19th century, when the famous school innovators Horace Mann and Samuel Gridley Howe introduced standardized testing to Boston schools based upon the centralized Prussian testing system. The idea was to provide a single standard to judge and compare the output of each school and teaching quality. Each student takes the same test under identical conditions, and grading is impartial.


It detects anomalies between groups with different levels of familiarity. For instance, students living on the Eastern or Southern Coasts will certainly be well acquainted with hurricane facts, but not those in the land-locked central U.S. When noted, designers of these tests can identify and remove or change problematic questions for students in one area of the U.S. as compared to another.


Many outside factors affect how the student perceives a test, and this applies to standardized testing as well, such as the student’s stress, hunger, tiredness, and parent and teacher attitudes toward the test. Good test takers who know the subject do well. Stereotypes also influence scores. If a student believes they are unintelligent, they will most likely second guess every answer and do far worse on the test.

The tests also do not measure how the student progresses from year to year, only this year’s students versus last year’s students, but they are not the same ones. Also, tests are not comparable across state lines because many states have developed their own tests.


These tests are incapable of spotting something like high entrepreneurial talent in a student, students with talents to solve complex issues, or those possessing exceptional talents in the fine arts. They may be good at taking tests, but do they have the ability to think outside the box?

F.N., “Standardized Tests,” last modified December 7, 2020.


bottom of page