The solution I propose is comprehensive exams at the end of each course, much like Advanced Placement exams, that thoroughly and objectively distinguish students on merit alone. The emphasis in each classroom would then shift from fighting the teacher for high grades to cooperating with the teacher to learn the material necessary to perform on the exam.That's from Andrew Knight, in an essay discussing problems that will not be new to anyone who is or has recently been in school; more here. This is exactly what I wanted during most of my science and math courses. The alternative is to place a greater emphasis on big standardized tests like the SAT, but there can be so much variability in results from just one day.
One question is whether such exams could be a part of classes that are less fact-based, such as history and english. There is actually a machine learning competition for automated essay grading going on right now. I don't pretend to know the answer to this question, but even if it is currently infeasible, that shouldn't stop the tests from being used in math, science, and foreign language classes.