Whenever there are criticisms about our system of education, there always seems to be more than a reasonable amount of attacks on standardized tests. Buy why?
The main criticism of such tests are that they don't measure 'higher order thinking skills' whatever they are (we are skeptical that the phrase means anything useful, but that is an, ahem, subject for another day) and force teachers to 'teach to the test' rather than teach all subjects thoroughly, to the point of concentrating on the students of higher ability in order to ensure overall decent test scores for their particular school.
Perhaps; we are not really sure how much of that goes on. It didn't appear to be an issue in the schools where the Wayne County Conservative Examiner sent his progeny, and they and the bulk of their peers did well enough on the standardized tests they we given. Oh, why not say it right out: we don't see much evidence that that's the case at all, based on the four school systems and three private schools with which we have intimate knowledge. Still, we realize that standardized tests cause anxiety. But why should they?
Colleges and universities typically assess new students on a 45-45-10 scale (we received this information from a source which offers ACT test prep to high school students for pay, outside of regular school hours). That is, admissions are based roughly 45% on a student's academic record, 45% on their standardized test scores, and 10% on extracurriculars and community service and activity. It hardly strikes us as an overzealous emphasis on one test.
What it tells us is that college recruiting and admissions officers want three things: solid academic performance, community awareness, and a snapshot of the student's ability to work efficiently and well in a classroom environment under some pressure (which is essentially what a standardized test measures). None of these strike us as extraordinary expectations, including that last point. There isn't a thing wrong with it. If a student can't do well on a general knowledge test by 11th Grade, which is typically when the first standardized tests for college hopefuls are administered, then there are issues beyond such tests which are at play. Home life, personal expectations, and yes, even poor schools, are at issue more so than the ACT or SAT themselves.
In short, worries over standardized test scores are much ado about nothing. Student well prepared over several years will do well. Ones who aren't won't. And it is simply stupid to blame the test or the testing culture for that.