Given the documented effects of the overuse and abuses of standardized testing, routine use of such tests is ill-advised. Routine uses include administration of standardized "readiness" tests or screening tests for all children entering kindergarten, and standardized achievement tests associated with state or federal preventive-remedial programs (e.g., program evaluation procedures formerly required for Chapter 1) for all children beginning in second grade or earlier. Such testing policies are based on unfounded assumptions that any and all children may be unable to succeed in programs that are presumably designed for typically performing children in the given age range.
Numerous authorities have described the marked proliferation of standardized achievement testing, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s. Rothman (1995) points out that achievement tests occupy a central position in schools: "By one estimate, the 41 million schoolchildren in America take 127 million tests annually, with some taking as many as twelve a year" (p. xv). Aside from the issues of cost-effectiveness, the cumulative effects of such ubiquitous testing include negative effects on students' attitudes and motivation as they proceed through school (Paris, Lawton, Turner, & Roth, 1991).
Several important steps can be taken to reduce the chances that standardized tests will dominate the curriculum and cause children to think that what matters most is what is on the test. These steps primarily have to do with developmentally appropriate assessment. Bredekamp and Shepard (1989, pp. 22-23) offer these recommendations to protect young children from inappropriate expectations, practices, and policies: