[Excerpt] Two presidents, the National Governors Association, and numerous blue-ribbon panels have called for the development of state or national content standards for core subjects and examinations that assess student achievement of these standards. The Competitiveness Policy Council, for example, advocated that "external assessments be given to individual students at the secondary level and that the results should be a major but not exclusive factor qualifying for college and better jobs at better wages." It is claimed that curriculum-based external exit exam systems (CBEEESs) based on explicit content standards will improve the teaching and learning of core subjects. What evidence is there for this claim? Outside the United States, such systems are the rule, not the exception. What impacts have such systems had on school policies, teaching, and student learning?