Throughout most of the nineteenth century, teachers tested the progress of students with oral examinations, often held at the blackboard. By the end of the century, more formal written examinations were used in some states to test graduates of academies in high schools and to accredit teachers. A few universities began to offer advanced degrees in education, and faculty there reflected on the history of mathematics education in this country.
At the same time, as the number of students attending school expanded, as high schools began to offer vocational training, and as manufacturing became more efficient, several authors worried about maximizing the efficiency of schools. A variety of standardized examinations were introduced to predict the performance of students, to point up areas where they needed work, and to evaluate school systems.