There has been a constant debate in the past few years about standardized testing. And with the ever-growing competition in schools and universities there is a question of their validity and if they should be weighed as highly as they are.
There are two types of testing: high-stakes testing and low-stakes testing. High-stakes testing is used in an environment where important decisions are being made about students, teachers, or schools. (For example, the ACT or No Child Left Behind.) In a low-stakes testing environment the score rarely has any effect beyond a student's grade in a particular subject. (For example, a student's AP score affecting their grade in that class.)
Cons: Many people believe these high-stake test results are being given too much influence on shaping the curriculum. Others believe that the tests do not show current understandings of how students learn. There is a major debate on discrimination of such tests. Test questions have been shown to be bias toward a "middle-class white background". For some students whose first language may not be English these tests can be a struggle for them and can't necessarily show their knowledge of the information on it. Further concerns are that because test items differ with different administrations of the test, different test scores may not show differences between students, it will simply show the differences between administrations. Many argue that the conclusions that you can draw from assessments as well as the observation of the students' work and how he or she learns is far more valuable then the standardized test scores.
Pro: People that are for standardized testing believe that it is not only a test of the students, but it is also a test of the teachers; through these tests they can get a view of how a particular teacher is performing and if students are being well-served in their educational environment. It shows what teachers have taught and what they have failed to teach. It is a way to gain accountability of how a particular school's program is covering the content they are supposed to. It is also a way to ensure that students are retaining information they are taught even after the unit is complete. Many believe it is a way to reveal gaps between students in different regions throughout the country.