What’s the entire testing thing about? Unless you’re into conspiracy theories (and many pundits are), the “testing mania” is really just about transparency.
A huge majority of Black and urban students (and plenty of rural southern students–and pockets of students everywhere else) weren’t graduating. Many were graduating, but were functionally illiterate, couldn’t calculate, couldn’t speak or write cogently.
There was lots of finger-pointing.
Testing was an attempt to sort out who was teaching what. Testing helped show who wasn’t learning the basics. It also showed some other weaknesses. It made much that wasn’t visible, more transparent.
Alas, what testing couldn’t show is, “Who is getting educated?” “Who’s ready for the world as it is?” (I think I borrowed that phrase).
Nothing can ever completely show that. Yet we can do much better. An entire set of tools are available; we should be creating more.
Meanwhile, we can also dramatically increase the options of what students learn, as well as how, how much, where, when, and from whom.