Achievement tests are advantageous because they provide an objective way to evaluate student abilities. Problems with these tests include an unfair disadvantage to non-native English speakers and teachers spending significant amounts of class time to teach exam materials.
Since achievement tests are standardized, all students are asked to answer the same questions under similar test-taking circumstances. This increases the objectivity of the test, and it can aid politicians and policy makers in determining what is working in student education and what needs to change.
Non-native English speakers may have a hard time scoring well due to problems in understanding the questions rather than failing to have the relevant abilities and knowledge. Because students are often required to take these achievement tests prior to mastering the language, the exam may not be able to accurately measure their abilities. Similar challenges impact students with learning disabilities and special educational needs.
Additionally, in order to improve student scores, many teachers dedicate extensive amounts of classroom time to preparing for the exam. Unfortunately, learning exam material is not necessarily beneficial for the overall education of the students. In some states, the teachers' salaries and even job prospects can be heavily influenced by their students' exam scores.