As the end of the year madly approaches, the gymnasium is full of desks where the students sit and fill in their bubbles. A pin could drop and make infinitely more noise than the amount of learning that is (not) occurring.
The multiple choice tests range from 50 to 75 questions.
The kids are told they MUST stay for an hour.
On average, most are done ripping through the bubbles in about 20 minutes.
They sit there in sheer boredom waiting to be dismissed.
The hour is up and it's a mad dash to the door. All but a small handful of students are thankful just to get the hell-out-of there. When the gym fully clears out, the teacher makes their way to the bubble sheet scorer.
The computer crunches the data and spews out something like this:
What do you see? What do you know now that you didn't know before?
This kind of data will only lead teachers to better predict a kid's chances of passing or failing a test than actually knowing the kid as a human being - as a learner.
There's a reason why Gerald Bracey once said:
There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all.
Teachers know how busy their day is. We have very little time to piss away. Every nanosecond we spend making, collecting and analyzing this kind of data is nanoseconds we are not actually engaging with kids in a meaningful relationship.
But let's not kid ourselves - those nanoseconds add up, and for many teachers, their day has been annexed by the data mongers.
Too many teachers have become agents of data and slaves to accountability. As if a good education simply comes from a teacher who counts the data so they can be held accountable.
Teachers are living in fear that someone might challenge their grading. When that parent, student or administrator comes knocking at your classroom door, you had better have a diabolical data managing system that clearly illustrates how you could have possibly given lil' Johnny that C. Teachers have resorted to believing that you can point to your grade book and say "look at all those Cs, how could I have given him anything but a C."
When assessment becomes more about covering your own ass in fear of being held accountable and less about student learning, we fail our children in more ways than we would like to ever admit.