The amount and importance of standardized testing have become so bad that teachers often have to cut actual lessons in order to teach students how to pass those tests. In 2015, President Obama even made a public plea to reduce the amount of time kids spend in school sitting down and coloring in a bunch of bubbles that supposedly prove how smart they are. However, since then, the government hasn't really stopped pushing standardized testing down the school system's throat. In fact, only months after Obama's plea, the Education Department started to threaten to cut federal funding to states who dared to opt out of these tests. But it turns out the tests themselves may not be the problem. The same year Obama made his plea (2015, for those of you who can't remember all the way back to the beginning of this paragraph), Germany enacted its own standardized testing program and steadily raised its schools' scores. They did especially well at closing the achievement gap for the most disadvantaged students, to the tune of a whopping 15 points.
"Wow, that's almost 100 percent!" -American student
Exactly what kind of test was this? Were wizards involved? German wizards? The most efficient of all magi?
In fact, there's nothing special about these standardized tests compared with the ones used in the United States. The only thing Germany did differently was not cutting funding for low-performing schools. In fact, they actually gave more support to these "bad schools" because, amazingly, giving a school more resources as opposed to taking them away actually helps them teach better. They also didn't make the schools' scores publicly available, which makes it harder for parents to herd their smart kids to good schools and create little elite alcoves of education. Simply by not punishing and embarrassing underperforming schools, Germany turned standardized testing into a system that bridged the gap in education inequality, raising its global schooling rank by leaps and bounds. Furthermore, Germany was one of only three countries to raise its national math scores in the last 15 years, catapulting them to the top 20 in the world for math proficiency. In that same year, the U.S. slid down to 49th. That's several hands of fingers worse than Germany.