The ABC News headline reads, “Teens Prefer Computers to Doctors“. This headline is somewhat deceptive, though. More accurately, teems may be more likely to share sensitive, high-risk and confidential information via a handheld computing system called the Health eTouch than they would in a face-to-face discussion with their doctor.
One quotation that struck me from an article titled, “Waiting room gadget may prove to be a life-saver” reads,
“Our research has found that recent advances in information technology, such as the Health eTouch system, and the immediate reporting of computerized screening results may help overcome barriers to behavioral screening.”
It made me think about the complete opposite in education – the delayed reporting that comes from standardized assessments. I was talking with a teacher the other day and we were discussing the end-of-year paperwork that needs to get done on each child. Her perspective was that it was such a waste of time because nobody really looks at it, making the process even more trivial. It is a vicious circle, because the new teachers who get anecdotal and formal assessment data on their new students know that teachers like themselves just go through the motions of filling out these district-mandated forms and checklists. We also discussed the delayed assessment data results that come from standardized testing. By the time the data arrives, it is so close to the end of the year that teachers don’t really give it attention as they will be passing their students on to other teachers (this is assuming that the teachers can make sense of the data that they are provided with). It gets filed for the next teacher to sort out.
What if standardized assessment data reporting was immediate? Would that change things (assuming that the data was actually useful, valid, and reliable), or is something still missing from the equation like a doctor’s mind – one that understands the data and combs it looking for important information and correlations. Do most teachers really take the data seriously? Do most teachers really know what to do with the data once they receive it. I remember our faculty sitting in on one – yes one “in-service”…groan… where we were told what the data we had just received means. I never had a course in undergrad or Master’s program that helped me understand the data and take action based upon the data. Only during my doctoral program did serious attention to this ever emerge.
So, we have the problem of delayed data receipt, lack of understanding of what the data means, lack of understanding of what action to take based on the data, lack of credibility and respect for the data itself, and disenfranchisement with the whole formal data gathering, reporting, recording, and action process.
Imagine if your teacher was your doctor? What then?
Would a handheld data gathering device really help any more than a handheld computing device put into the hands of a novice or traditional teacher really bring learning innovation and power into the classroom?
As Obama would say, we need change. “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
Are we just waiting for change, or are we, as Hillary Clinton said, just repackaging things others have tried … “not change you can believe in, it’s change you can Xerox.”
We need educational assessment reform in this country as badly as we need healthcare reform.