Last updated on: 2/21/2024 | Author:

Pro & Con Quotes: Do Standardized Tests Improve Education in America?

PRO (yes)

Pro 1

Larry Strauss, former K-12 educator, states:

“I have news for the testing industry and its cult: Those standardized test results, particularly for high school students, are dubious. Take it from my experience as a high school teacher for three decades, by the ninth or 10th grade, kids have mostly figured out that the results of these tests will have no impact on them. In fact, the smarter the kid, the sharper their critical reasoning, the more likely they are to have long ago made this calculation.

Educators are left to plead with them for their best effort. In that regard, such standardized tests are just as likely a measure of how much a student likes and respects their school and teachers as it is an assessment of their skills and knowledge. Often, too, it is mostly an indicator of their mood the day the test is administered.”


Larry Strauss, “Standardized Testing Has Sucked the Life out of Learning. Stop Focusing on Test Scores.,”, Sep. 21, 2023

Pro 2

Jessica Grose, opinion writer for The New York Times, states:

“Opt-out proponents argue, among other things, that “one-size-fits-all tests punish and discourage students who are already vulnerable” and “the tests themselves become the focus of education.” But after the major disruptions of 2020-22, I figured that even test-skeptical parents might reconsider the value of getting a straightforward accounting of learning loss that compared the progress of kids across schools and districts — to know whether their children are still playing catch-up post-pandemic….

Without standardized testing, we won’t know where to put the most resources, or what the contours of the problems students face even look like. Getting rid of widespread assessments won’t help the most vulnerable children; it will only leave us without knowledge about how best to support them.”


Jessica Grose, “Don’t Ditch Standardized Tests. Fix Them.,”, Jan. 17, 2024

Pro 3

Kyle Wingfield, President and CEO of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, states:

“[T]here is bipartisan support for these tests. Republicans and Democrats agree we need an objective accounting of whether students are really learning, or simply being shuffled through the system.

Tests are particularly important for poor kids, minority kids, kids with special needs, and others who for decades simply weren’t learning at the rates their white and more affluent peers were. How do we know there’s an achievement gap? Because all kids across a given state have to take the same tests… Students need to learn, and teachers need to know if students are learning. How do we know if that’s happening? By giving tests.”


Kyle Wingfield, “Opinion: Standardized Testing Necessary to Gauge K-12 Learning even during Pandemic,”, Sep. 11, 2020

Pro 4

Anne Wicks, Ann Kimball Johnson Director of the Education Reform Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute, states:

“State standardized exams help parents, educators, and policymakers understand which kids are on track—who is falling behind—so that the adults can act accordingly to better meet students’ needs. This information is more crucial than ever this year given that traditional schooling is now upended…

The current pandemic has blown apart the public education system as we knew it—simultaneously exacerbating vulnerabilities for many children and forcing rapid innovation to meet this instructional moment. The adults in the system must now focus on two things in response: The first is safety for kids and educators. The second is accelerating academic progress for all kids, regardless of race, ethnicity, or disability.

We need to organize the rest of the system to support those outcomes, and high-quality tests are an important tool in that worthy effort.”


Anne Wicks, “Standardized Tests Are Essential for Equity,”, Oct. 30, 2020

Pro 5

Keri Rodrigues, Co-founder of the National Parents Union, states:

“If I don’t have testing data to make sure my child’s on the right track, I’m not able to intervene and say there is a problem and my child needs more. And the community can’t say this school is doing well, this teacher needs help to improve, or this system needs new leadership.

As a community, we cannot do that based on feeling. We have to have facts, and the only way we have these facts is by testing our children, assessing them, getting them what they need, getting the teachers what they need, and getting the system what it needs to improve. We owe that to our kids…

It’s really important to have a statewide test because of the income disparity that exists in our society. Black and Brown excellence is real, but just because a kid lives in Dorchester does not make his or her life is less valuable than a child that lives in Wellesley. And it is unfair to say that just by luck of birth that a child born in Wellesley is somehow entitled to a higher-quality education…

Testing is a tool for us to hold the system accountable to make sure our kids have what they need.”


Keri Rodrigues, “Education Reformers: You Need to Do More Than Take a Book Report to a Knife Fight,”, Sep. 23, 2020

Pro 6

Mark Dynarski, Founder and President of Pemberton Research, states:

“What exams test reflects what states want their students to learn — the standards. Comparing average scores between schools and districts is possible only because the same test is done. In measuring what students know, tests are a tremendous asset, providing important and reliable information that cannot be learned in other ways…

To parents who are not educators, the process of creating standardized tests might seem like a big black box. In fact, it’s a rigorous and highly scientific process, one that has been developed over 100 years and reflects research by generations of esteemed scholars. It has its own subfield, psychometrics, and every year universities graduate new Ph.D.s in that subfield.”


Mark Dynarski, “When Done Right, Standardized Tests Really Do Reflect What a Student Knows,”, Nov. 14, 2018

Pro 7

Lane Wright, Director of Policy Analysis at Education Post, states:

“Standardized tests are a spotlight that helps education leaders see what effect schools are having on students. With that information they can make changes to address students’ needs…

Standardized tests help principals and other school leaders figure out which groups of students are struggling and gives them the evidence they need to push for changes.

Before we had standardized tests, some might have been able to intuitively sense which students were falling behind, but they didn’t have much in the way of hard evidence to back it up. Without evidence, it’s hard to justify the sometimes uncomfortable changes needed to help students.”


Lane Wright, “Does Standardized Testing Help Students,”, May 25, 2018

CON (no)

Con 1

Christopher Tienken, associate professor of leadership, management, and policy and education consultant at Seton Hall University. states:

“The tests are not measuring how much students learned or can learn. They are predominately measuring the family and community capital of the student.”


Peter Greene, “Research Shows What State Standardized Tests Actually Measure,”, Feb. 10, 2024

Con 2

Cindy Long, senior writer for the National Education Association (NEA), states: Mar. 30, 2023

“Break out your No. 2 pencil and answer this multiple choice question: how do standardized tests measure student learning?
A. In a single snapshot.
B. With biased test questions.
C. Without determining learning growth.
D. All of the above.

If you didn’t answer ‘all of the above,’ then: A. You haven’t been paying attention, or B. You work for a testing software company.

Most of us know that standardized tests are inaccurate, inequitable, and often ineffective at gauging what students actually know.


Cindy Long, “Standardized Testing is Still Failing Students,”

Con 3

Peter Greene, Senior Contributor to Forbes and former K-12 educator, states:

“It is absurd to suggest that a single standardized math and reading test can somehow answer a binary question like, ‘Is this child well-educated or not?’ Even ed reform fans have known for a while that the big standardized test does not deliver useful information. The pandemic reminds us that when it comes to testing, you need something that provides a clear answer to a clear question.

It’s time to scrap the big standardized high-stakes tests entirely, and replace them with a system that would provide real accountability… One of the biggest fallacies of the ed reform movement has been the notion that a single multiple-choice math and reading test can somehow measure everything.”


Peter Greene, “Rethinking Accountability For K-12 Education, Post-Pandemic.,”, Apr. 5, 2020

Con 4

Conor Sasner, Director of Education and Child Policy Research at First Focus on Children, states:

“Standardized tests are not flexible and cannot provide us a true measure of how kids are learning or developing. Even before the crisis, the same teacher might score in the top percentile and bottom percentile in the same year, on the same test, for different classes…

These tests – which are highly biased against non-white students, ineffective at quantifying student engagement, and disconnected from any concept of critical thinking – have leapfrogged curriculum. Instead of demonstrating effective curriculum, post hoc, it informs curriculum from its inception…

We’re asked to accept a dubious claim: a collection of multiple-choice questions are the key to evaluating teachers and schools, or at least enough to make important decisions on which students and schools deserve adequate funding. But the soul of education doesn’t lie in rote testing ability or data retention. To learn is to actively engage with the world; to teach is to encourage the growth of those who seek to change it. Tests don’t tell that story.”


Conor Sasner, “The Myth of Standardized Testing Becomes an Attack on Public Education during a Pandemic,”, Oct. 23, 2020

Con 5

Steven Singer, 8th grade educator, states:

“Standardized assessments at best show which kids have had all the advantages. Which ones have had all the resources, books in the home, the best nutrition, live in the safest environments, get the most sleep, don’t live with the trauma of racism and prejudice everyday.

However, even more than that is something indisputable but that most policymakers and media talking heads refuse to acknowledge: standardized testing is a tool of white supremacy.

It was invented by eugenicists – people who believed that white folks were racially superior to darker skinned people. And the purpose of these tests from the very beginning was to provide a scientific (now recognized as pseudo scientific) justification for their racism.

A standardized test is an assessment where the questions are selected based on what the ‘standard’ test taker would answer. And since this norm is defined as a white, middle-to-upper-class person, the tests enshrine white bias… This is white supremacy. Using these tests as a gatekeeper for funding, tracking, and self-respect is educational apartheid.”


Steven Singer, “Standardized Testing Increases School Segregation,”, June 26, 2020

Con 6

Margaret Pastor, principal of Stedwick Elementary School in Maryland, states:

“[A]n assistant superintendent… pointed out that in one of my four kindergarten classes, the student scores were noticeably lower, while in another, the students were outperforming the other three classes. He recommended that I have the teacher whose class had scored much lower work directly with the teacher who seemed to know how to get higher scores from her students.

Seems reasonable, right? But here was the problem: The ‘underperforming’ kindergarten teacher and the ‘high-performing’ teacher were one and the same person… We test the children’s learning with admittedly limited instruments—standardized tests—that were never designed to be used as a standalone analysis. A lot of classroom time is dedicated to preparing for these tests and giving them. Results are affected by dozens of variables that we can’t control: illness, hunger, sleep deprivation, unfamiliar forms of a test, limited command of English…

[M]y own experience of watching tests and students for many years is that standardized test results underestimate large numbers of students as learners, especially those who belong to minority groups… Teachers—good teachers, who are with students day after day through all the variables of learning—are far more likely to know not only what a student can do but also how to increase his learning. If we focused on that and worked to build our strength as identifiers and promoters of children’s learning, we could have a real impact.”


Margaret Pastor, “Why Standardized Tests Aren’t Working for Teachers or Students,”, June 19, 2019

Con 7

Tom Vander Ark, CEO of Getting Smart, states:

“Good schools know how every student is doing in every subject every day. They don’t need a week of testing in the spring to tell them what they already know…

One problem with state-mandated tests is that they don’t take advantage of everything teachers know about their students…

It’s time to end a century of standardized testing and focus instead on helping young people do work that matters. We no longer need to interrupt learning and test kids to find out what they know. A couple of brave state policy leaders could trigger what would be a quick change because everyone hates the tests.”


Tom Vander Ark, “How to Get Rid of Standardized Testing,”, Apr. 14, 2019