I was under the impression that schools were supposed to give us knowledge that would prove useful in college at some level, at the very least. Not teach us to obey orders and give some boss what they want. I doubt most of the stuff one learns in latter years of high school would prove useful if you didn't go to college after graduating. One would think a "writing test" would test how well you actually wrote, not adherence to some forumla. You may argue that statement is too subjective to use as a grading benchmark. I would argue that it is a reason why something subjective like writing shouldn't appear on a standardized test. At least if a teacher gives you a bad grade, you can go to them and get a personal response on why you got the grade. With these writing tests you are at the complete mercy of the state graders and can never know exactly why they gave you what grade they did. Sure, there are unreasonable teachers out there, but I'd say the majority are reasonable enough to at least give you a reason you got a bad grade.
I wouldn't know about high level english classes as all my history professors care about is documented thorough research and logical arguments written in some sort of organized structure in a way where you don't sound like an idiot. That seems pretty flexible to me. If high level English classes are like that, I'm glad I would never take them. Sounds like more mechanization of what should be a fluid art.
I'm sure I sound like some idealistic kid to you, but I guess I was always lied to and told that school was supposed to teach you how to think, not just run you through a machine, make sure you pass a certain mark, then spit you out.
Ok, to get off the writing test soapbox, my math and science classes had standardized tests as well. We didn't teach to the test, but the tests were incredibly curved to the point where you had to almost try to fail the test. I mentioned in an earlier post, this point, but I wanted to get away from the writing test and show a different example.