The idea being that if we simply called them common, and not standardized, then the exams would be inherently less objectionable. I mean who can argue with something as warm and fuzzy as common?
In my heart, I knew they were standardized but I struggled to put what I knew to be true into words... until now. John Spencer's video and post titled Suffocating in Standardization made the distinction between standardization and common crystal clear.
These "common" exams weren't common by John's definition. There was nothing democratic about how these exams were being "shared". I wasn't free to take it, change it, and or trash it. I had no choice over whether they were appropriate for my students. There was nothing democratic or fair about these "common" exams.
The only thing common about these exams was that we were all forced to do them. Because political power was required to ensure mandated uniformity, these exams were by definition standardized.
At the heart of the illusion of standardization is a deeply misguided belief that providing a great education to all children requires all kids to get the same education. Until we understand that we can not provide learners with their needs by pretending that everyone has the same needs, standardization will continue to look like the solution rather than the problem it really is.