The Undemocratic Effects and Underlying Racism of Standardized Testing in the United States

Emil Marmol


The scholarly literature regarding standardized testing in the United States since the implementation of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top has been nearly unanimous in its condemnation of the effects of these tests. This article specifically analyses the multifold ways that standardized testing disadvantages students of colour and students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The stated policy objectives of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top are to decrease disparities in educational achievement nationwide. However, study after study demonstrate widening chasms in educational achievement, shrinking and standardization of the curriculum, along with the elimination of effective teaching methods. Standardized testing as introduced by these legislative acts nevertheless continues unabated. Because of this contradiction, it is argued, using Henry and Tator’s theory of democratic racism, that the goals of these programs and their concomitant standardized testing are actually meant to maintain the status quo and in fact increase the power of dominant groups and ruling elites.  


Standardized Testing; Democracy; Racism; No Child Left Behind; Race to the Top

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