Part of the complaints about standardized tests is that schools will teach to the test. Basically, that schools know ahead of time what specific
topics will be covered on the test, possibly even the specific questions, and so the test is no longer a true measure of the students' learning.
To put it in practical terms: Imagine that you were required to be able to speak French, and that I was assigned to teach it to you. Further, I know
that you will be asked to say "Hello, my name is James." "I would like to go to the pool." and "When I was young, I played basket ball."
Now, instead of teaching you the language itself, since I am to be paid based on your performance on those three questions, I can get away with
teaching you to mimic "Bonjower, je mahpel James.", "Je voodray alay a la pissene." and "Kahn jaytay jun jay jooay o basket"
You know nothing about the tenses used, nor even necessarily what the individual words mean (as evidenced by my butchering of the spelling, you don't
even need to know that). All you know is those three sentences, yet you will be certified as "speaking French." While this is a simplified
example, it is indicative of why there's a mistrust for standardized tests, at least the way they're impletmented currently.
Were the tests structured similarly to the ACT or the SAT test: covering a very broad number of topics, some below and some beyond the scope of the
grade being tested so we could see not just that the bare minimums are being met, but which schools are actually excelling at what subjects, and which
are failing at what subjects. If the questions, or at least specific information about what kinds of questions, were not available to the schools,
they would be forced to make sure the students actually understood the subject matter, instead of just being able to spit out the answers to a few
relatively narrow areas.
I'm all for standardized testing so long as the tests are well designed, well implemented, and the people looking at the results understand the
limitations of standardized tests.
I'm dubious about government imposed standardized testing as a basis for school funding because, as John Galbraith said, "You will find that the
State is the kind of organization which, though it does big things badly, does small things badly, too."