Assessments that are used for setting student goals are actually a detriment. They focus on outdated, standardized measures of growth which compare a student’s progress to their peers. 

This was based on the concept of a bell curve, which believed that some students will always be behind, others ahead, with the majority in the middle. In actuality, a student should be compared to how well they perform at that grade level’s expectations, regardless of who their classmates are. The luck of the draw could dictate a student’s placement along bell curve A, while a different classroom could place them at a different point along bell curve B. It has nothing to do with the individual’s talents or performance. By happenstance, you could be assigning a stigma to a student that can go forth affecting their self-esteem and future achievements for life. 

The only way to truly assess a student’s ability is by using grade-level achievement goals that also take into account context and familiarity. There have been numerous studies on standardized tests that prove a disadvantage for minorities because of the unfamiliar subject matter. The authors of the tests are only writing about what they know, without taking into account the diverse population that needs to be fairly assessed as well. 

The poorly initiated methodology of no child left behind has turned the majority of public schools into test-taking factories. Because of the never-ending threat of budget cuts that rely solely on the number of successful test outcomes, teachers are bound by a national core curriculum that has done away with any type of creativity or individuality. Students are taught to memorize things for the sole purpose of getting their school the highest possible number of passing tests. 

Access to the proper resources is another way that certain demographics are at a disadvantage. For the more fortunate students, they have access to the internet at home, and their school districts issue school-owned laptops in order to do work outside of school hours. This is a massive boost over students who can only work on electronic devices while attending school. During quarantine or a reduced in-session schedule, this cuts their access to resources even further.