I personally loathe standardized tests. Why? Because I test very, very well. It's a knack. I also loathe the idea that a standardized test (say the SATs) capture the value of what an individual student will add to the classroom. But there is a place for standardized tests, as CEB points out:
Enter Standardized Tests.
There aren't many folks who'd claim that these bubble-in tests are the best way to measure learning. They are, however, the least worst solution. Out of all the ways to measure learning (direct observation, "authentic tasks," portfolio-based assessments, open-ended response, juried competitions, and standardized tests) there's only one that has any hope of providing some sort of standard at a reasonable cost.
We don't want to be cynical and claim it's all about money, but one shouldn't dismiss practicality. Any method of measuring learning must survive real-world criteria, and if your goal is to measure all the students in the state (any state), standardized tests are the way to go.