Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Andrea Gabor

Testing Craze Is Fading in U.S. Schools. Good. Here’s What’s Next.

New ways to measure student progress are gaining ground. Wind turbines, anyone?

There’s a better way.

There’s a better way.

Photographer: John Paraskevas /Newsday RM via Getty Images

America’s decades-long infatuation with standardized testing is finally waning, and for good reasons. Despite years of training students to do better on tests, the performance of 17-year-olds on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the nation’s report card, has flatlined. At the same time, the focus on testing produced unintended consequences, including inattention to important educational priorities and growing teacher shortages.

That’s in part because test performance became a goal in many districts instead of a means to an end and, thus, a prime example of Campbell’s Law, which points to the corrupting influence of using a single measurement as a target, thus ensuring that “it ceases to be a good measure."