berndj I am still weary. A standard is a measure. We might not agree with what is being measured; as you pointed out, life is seldom dependent on how many facts you crammed into your head. But that is the nature of the system as it is. The only point of a standard, as I see it, is to empirically measure competency. So you can change the definition of what competency entails: IQ, EQ, Mental Agility, but at the end of the day, someone is still being measured empirically and one hopes, objectively, against a standard.
Your suggestion is still to identify a group: 'Township Kids' and say the standards don't apply to them for whatever reason. But trip' 20 on a dartboard, is trip 20' on a dartboard. You might reach a consensus with another and say that trip 1 is just as good, especially if your arm is sore that day, but that is not honest accounting.
That said, I find the education system rather stupid, time wasting and pathetically exclusive.
As to utility: I have seen it elsewhere on this forum and recently in a essay I read by Alan Watts, that if education does not include things like; farming, home economics, everyday technical skills(changing a plug etc), doing your taxes, then what is the point of it really? What is it teaching you? Not survival in any real sense, just theory without any patent practical utility.
As to exclusivity: I am a firm believer in making education both non-compulsory and universally accessible after a certain point.Perhaps after learning to read and write and figure.
After that we should have every discipline laid out for everyone on places like the internet, local libraries, whatever(you only need one full faculty to do this, in concert with a few technical people) So if you want to study, you don't have to jump hoops for over a decade, learning things you have zero interest in. Instead you learn the material that interests you, when it interests you, you write the test and Bob is your mother's brother.
Cost effective for everyone (you pay to be tested only), more fair for those who may be underprivileged or overly privileged; you move at your pace, you are not barred from attempting the study and your life is flexible as your life and circumstance require or have set.
Just a thought.