Skip Navigation
We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience, provide ads, analyze site traffic, and personalize content. If you continue to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies.

Standardized Testing & Student Assessment

Our current assessment systems continue to over-rely on standardized tests, but students aren't standardized. There are better, more equitable ways to assess students' learning, knowledge, and skills.
Student taking an exam

Students deserve to have their learning assessed fairly, in a way that is based on real-life skills and knowledge. But our current standardized testing system is both inequitable and ineffective at gauging what students know—and it's failing educators, too, making it nearly impossible to manage the high-stakes tests and foster true learning at the same time.

The good news is that there are alternatives—ones that let students demonstrate their learning through critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and the application of knowledge.  

To ensure that every student—regardless of their race, origin, or background—can have their learning assessed in an equitable and accurate way, we are coming together to support changes to our testing system.  

Navigating the Pitfalls of Assessment Systems

Learn more about the weaknesses in our current assessment system, ways to manage the system, and how we can build better alternatives for our students.
standardized testing

The Racist Beginnings of Standardized Testing

From grade school to college, students of color have suffered from the effects of biased testing.
A screenshot of NEA's online assessments game.

An Unwinnable System

Overreliance on standardized tests isn't just failing students. Can you succeed as an educator in a testing environment stacked against you?
standardized testing failure

A Better Way to Assess Student Learning

Standardized tests have long failed students. Performance-based assessment is an equitable, accurate, and engaging alternative.

The Real Key to High-Scoring Schools

What do "positive outlier" districts have in common? They support well-qualified, experienced educators and focus on equity.

Micro-Credential on Assessment

This stack of six micro-credentials is intended to help educators reclaim classroom assessment to propel meaningful teaching and learning.
how grades fail

How Grades Fail (And What You Can Do About It)

Our current system of grading can be improved to get at the heart of education—inquiry, discovery, and joy.
Students taking an exam

What Should the Future of Assessment Look Like?

Explore the future of assessment systems in schools, and possible ways to get there.
Jody Murphy sits at a lab table in her chemistry classroom and talks to a student standing beside her

How Educators are Boosting Engagement and Achievement

In assessing student learning, rethinking student and family engagement is the first step in closing post-pandemic learning gaps.
Teacher Michelle Cardenas sits on a rug in her classroom with students

You Can’t Judge a School By its Ranking

Standardized testing and school rankings divide communities and sell schools short. There are better ways to measure success.

Our Vision for a Better System

Every student deserves access to an excellent education that empowers them to achieve their dreams. To reach that end, we must employ quality assessment practices that generate accurate, useful evidence of student learning. With quality assessments, we can

  • Identify students’ strengths and areas for growth
  • Encourage students to become lifelong learners 
  • Measure a program’s effectiveness 
  • Provide a basis for determining instructional strategies 
  • Create developmentally appropriate, high-quality learning experiences 

Standardized tests won't get us there. Educators know that students deserve learning opportunities that are differentiated and responsive to their needs, interests, and learning styles. How we assess students should reflect these priorities.

Transforming assessment systems to be student-centered requires that educators have the professional autonomy, knowledge, skills, and support to use a variety of measures to assess student growth accurately.

A portrait of Allisa Holland
Performance-based assessment allows students to ask more questions and bounce ideas around, which reduces anxiety without reducing rigor.
Quote by: Alissa Holland, Instructional Coach, Milford, MA
National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.