Performance Based Education (or Competency Based Education or Outcome Based Education or personalized learning-- I do hope the industry comes up with standardized jargon for this soon) is coming. It has been given an extra boost by leveraging the anti-test movement in a clever ju-jitsu manuever. "Yes, we should get everyone out of that testing frying pan," declare policy makers and thought leaders and test manufacturers, as they usher the fleeing mob straight toward the CBE fire. Instead of one Big Standardized Test, why many standardized tests and quizzes and worksheets, all hooked into a giant data-hoovering monstrosity.
If you want to watch the onslaught arrive in agonizing detail, I recommend Emily Talmadge's Saving Maine Schools blog; Maine has been on the forefront of this, and Talmadge is on the forefront of catching it all.
But for the moment, let's just look at one particular example, courtesy of the folks at Pearson (because you know they are not going to be left out of the Next Big Goldmine).
Meet aimswebplus. It's "an efficient and effective formative assessment, data management, and reporting system." It uses "brief, valid and reliable measures of foundational skills in reading and math" and it "allows you to capture, manage and repor your assessment data in one seamless, web-based system." And you can use all that sweet, sweet data to "identify at-risk students early, to monitor progress, and to differentiate and track targeted instruction."
It's a multi-tier tool from Pearson, and while there's a whole "solution guide" you can download here, I think the short promo will give you the idea. Here's Pearson's quick, clear graphic explanation:
Tier I is the universal benchmark screening.
The student benchmark scores are "established" three times per year "using unique standardized assessment forms" and I think "unique standardized" might be my favorite new oxymoron, replacing the tired old jumbo shrimp. "Reports help educators identify students at risk, personalize instruction, evaluate student progress, demonstrate expected annual growth, and serve as a communication tool for system improvement."
So it's like a magical BS Test, only times three.
Tier 2 combines strategic and progress monitoring stuff.
"Educators" (because teachers aren't technically necessary here) can monitor the tri-annual benchmark tests, supplementing them with monthly monitoring tests-- it'll help the educators check the "effectiveness of instructional changes and short-term interventions." Because otherwise the teacher might not have any idea of how well the student is doing.
Tier 3 is progress monitory stuff.
"Those who are most at risk, including Title 1 and special education students, benefit from the design of aimswebPlus for effective, frequent (e.g., weekly) assessment and monitoring." Weekly. The IEP will include an "optimal rate of progress" so that we can check in at regular intervals to see if Pat is on track. I am totes curious about the intervals and how short they can be. "Pat, you haven't made your numbers for this week!"
As always with these sorts of programs, teachers get their information second-hand, carefully collected and analyzed by the software. "Reports help educators evaluate student performance, make good decisions about what program revisions or individual interventions are needed, and monitor the success of these changes over time."
The task management and reporting component in aimswebPlus provides comprehensive documentation of both instructional activities and assessment results, organizing in a single, convenient system all the information educators need to effectively implement the RTI process.
Whoopee! Computerized standardized assessing all the time! Data collection all the time! Actual human teacher needed in the classroom hardly any of the time! Pearson building a giant data file about your child all the time!
Pearson has been expecting this and planning for this and setting itself up for the "assessment renaissance" for quite some time (read all about it starting here). It isn't any less creepy up close than it was when it was far off down the road. Sit the child in front of a computer to consume standardized instruction and assessment, all linked to the most ginormous data collection system ever devised.
Just remember-- the next time you hear someone unexpected agreeing that we need to shut down the Big Standardized Test-- this is what they have in mind to replace it.