An alternative approach to standardized testing: A model that promotes racial equity and college access Academic Article uri icon


  • Since its inception, standardized testing has long been considered an illustration of the endemic nature of racism in America and a barrier to college access for racially minoritized students. This paper explores how standardized testing affects racial equity and college access of racially minoritized students. Critical race theory (CRT) and access provide frameworks to understand how standardized testing impacts racially minoritized students as members of the college going community. Thereafter, we problematize the use of colorblind and meritocratic practices in order to propose a comprehensive critical education model for the assessment of racially minoritized students scholastic aptitude. Our analysis found that standardized testing encourages curricular alignment to the tests themselves which take the form of curricular content-narrowing to tested subjects to the detriment or exclusion of non-tested subjects. Higher educations dependence on standardized testing, as the primary indicator of college preparedness, narrows the scope of racial equity that could be achieved on college campuses, while barely facilitating threshold access among racially minoritized students. As an alternative, we present the principles of critical race assessment, critical multicultural education, and critical pedagogies as a more comprehensive education model that recognizes and addresses the racial inequities that exist in education.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Critical Scholarship on Higher Education and Student Affairs

author list (cited authors)

  • Stewart, S., & Haynes, C.

publication date

  • January 2015