Any question on a fill-in-the-bubble test provides all the data necessary to come up with the correct answer. Students are then supplied with four or five possible responses. By their very nature, standardized tests inflate the scores of students on the low end of the scale. The only students who score lower than 20 percent on a fill-in-the-bubble test are victims of bad luck, since entirely random responses should raise you at least that high.
Just the appearance of a correct answer printed on a test booklet should increase scores across-the-board. Some percentage of students who cannot correctly answer the question "Who was President of the United States during the Civil War?" with no further prompting, will no doubt choose the correct answer when it is placed next to George Washington, Woodrow Wilson and Bill Clinton. There is good reason to believe that scores would plummet if tests were "fill in the blank" instead of "fill in the bubble."
Student assessments can also include essays, projects, or oral interviews. These allow students to demonstrate a deeper and wider knowledge of a particular subject than can be measured by a "fill in the bubble" test. However, using the previous example, it's hard to imagine a student who can write a meaningful and exemplary essay about any aspect of the Civil War if he or she can't answer the "bubble" question of who the President was.
So why would educators and their political allies criticize measurements that cast them in a better light than the alternatives?
And the answer is:
Because of the political battles over education and the presence of standardized tests, the tendency of school systems is to evaluate students more generously in alternative assessments. In the absence of standardized tests, very few students "fail," receive Fs, are retained, or are denied diplomas.