Mayfield High School junior Laura Cruz, 18, holds sign on March, 2, 2015, during a student-organized walkout to protest the PARCC Common Core exams in Las Cruces, N.M. (AP Photo/Las Cruces Sun-News, Robin Zielinski)

Any reader of this blog knows that if there is a single topic about which I write with near abandon, it is standardized testing.  Recent posts have included: “The important things standardized tests don’t measure,” “Cutting through the stupid on annual standardized testing,” “Revolt against high-stakes standardized testing grows,” “Five reasons standardized testing isn’t likely to let up,” etc.  I’ve published “The complete list of problems with standardized tests,”  and, “Principal: What I’ve learned about standardized testing,” and, well, you get it.

But with everything I’ve published on the subject, I’ve never had a post that looks at it quite the way this following post does. It’s a list of testing pros and cons from, of all places, The Onion, which, if you somehow don’t know, is a satirical newspaper that has fun skewering everything. While this Onion list pokes fun at the subject of standardized testing, it does so in a way that reveals frustrating absurdities and uncomfortable truths about our country’s testing obsession.

So here, with permission from The Onion, are the pros and cons of standardized testing. They will certainly make you laugh, and possibly cry.

As the American education system continues to place more emphasis on standardized testing to measure academic achievement, critics have argued that it can be more harmful than helpful to students’ development in the long run. Here are some of the pros and cons of standardized testing:


  • Every student measured against same narrow, irrelevant set of standards
  • Holds teachers personally accountable for success of large, monolithic testing organizations
  • Western tradition of critical thinking best embodied in bubble-sheet format
  • Keeps students quiet for upwards of 90 minutes
  • Repeated testing carefully develops teachers’ cheating skills
  • Only biased against kids who couldn’t afford college anyway
  • Data. More data.


  • There are easier ways to measure parents’ income
  • Takes up time that could be used to teach toward additional standardized tests
  • Standardized test–scoring machines kill and maim more than 200 workers annually
  • Allows U.S. students to be compared with those of other developed nations
  • Fails to measure attractiveness, which will have far greater impact on future success or failure
  • Students may in fact become too prepared for future
  • Probably could be more profitable