data-cloudOkay, all you education data fans, here’s the latest, and it makes me wonder if you’ll still be applauding  after reading all about it. Thanks to an Education Week piece by Sarah Sparks titled, “Hunt Is On for Clues to Students’ Test-Taking Strategies: Studies to Yield Further Picture of Learning Process,” we’re offered an eye-opening update on what’s going on behind the scenes as our children take mandated online standardized tests.

As she explains, “… Researchers on some of the leading national and international assessments work to pull more data about students’ learning strategies and skills from summative tests.” Apparently, what they’ve gathered so far is insufficient when it comes to knowing what’s going on in kids’ heads during testing. The concern: “We miss out on measuring the struggle a student has when she tries to overcome a misconception in learning science concepts or the anxiety a student feels when he’s trying to solve a problem…”

The solution: “process data, aka interaction, telemetry, clickstream, or logfile data, etc. As Sparks explains, these are the traces a student leaves behind while making his/her way through the assessment, and it’s made  up of three categories:

  1. What a student does;
  2. The order s/he does it;
  3. How long it takes.

To answer these questions, our children are will be subjected to:

  • eye tracking (to show where a student looked for information)
  • clickstream trackers (to follow students’ use of interactive tools and multiple web pages)
  • keystroke programs (to record what’s typed, the patterns of said typing, and any typing pauses)

Actually, the powers that be have already determined that kids who frequently hit the delete button, a sign that editing was attempted, have higher scores than non-frequent deleters. Plus…

  • High scorers are likelier to use the backspace more than low scoring students.
  • High scorers overall use more keystrokes than the less successful.

Bottom line: In this brave new world, Big Brother is, indeed, watching our children, standardized test by standardized test, keystroke by keystroke.

All in favor, say “Aye…”