In a comment thread at Washington Monthly, Michael Cook makes a powerful defense of standardized testing as a tool for increased equality:
This is well said, and certainly accords with my experience.
Standardized testing was developed precisely so that children from poor or working class families would have a chance to go to college by demonstrating they did have intellectual merit.
You see, back when there were no standardized tests it happened that teachers most frequently recommended kids from rich or influential families to go to college because, by golly, it seemed those kids completed their homework or did projects more often, usually did well on teacher-made tests, were more popular and participated in a lot of activities, etc. By all subjective measures, kids from richer backgrounds tend to get rated higher by local establishments.