Many people use the terms “test” and “assessment” interchangeably, but this is a mistake. In education, a test usually refers to a multiple-choice standardized test, while an assessment reflects a different way to evaluate what students know and can do. The SAT, which once was officially the Scholastic Aptitude Test, changed its name to the Scholastic Assessment Test, when it was a test, not an assessment. Finally it renamed its tests the SAT, which stands for nothing.

In this article, Arthur Camins calls on policy makers to abandon their obsession with standardized tests, which are not useful, and turn instead to a variety of assessments that help teachers and students understand whether the student has learned what was taught.