The problem with state testing is that they don't take into account the percentage of those students who are English learners. Here in So. Cal a large percentage of the kids are EESL, learning English as a second language. On average it take 3-5 years to acquire a second language. Most of the students when they take the test haven't been in school long enough to acquire the basics. It also doesn't take into account that there are schools like my mom's that have nothing but capped kids in order to meet the 20:1 ratio. In her kinder class she has studetns who have never had kinder before and most of them start in the middle of the year right when they turn 6, the required age to start school.
To point out other things, these tests also cover material that is impossible to get to unless you are on an acclerated program and you have an exceptionally bright set of students. We used to rank number one in the nation in education. We have been ranked 50 since the 60's or so and that was because we issued in what I call the coddling age. Corporal punishment was deemed unhealthy and it was better to baby them rather than tell them they are going to do it.
On another note with NCLB (No Child Left Behind), it is up for renewal. They want to add a clause that is really a low blow. I could think of stronger words but they are inappropriate. It calls for teachers to be paid based upon their students' test scores. That is a bunch of crap considering they are paid, while better off than working in a restaurant, they are paid a penance. University professors get paid more than they do. True there are some bad elem. teachers out there but this is plain wrong. To do that is unfair since those guys we elected as reps have never come down here to view the situation regarding English learners and capped kids. Some have never been in their programs long enough to learn anything the way they get moved around. I tell you this is a fireball topic and my views are that it is a pain in the rear.