Competency-based education (CBE) is a radical and expensive innovation that replaces regular instruction with computer "modules" that students work through on their own. After completing a module, students take a test; if they pass, they continue on to the next one. Computer-based education is being pushed by computer companies without consulting educators and without a proper research base.
The Pearson Publishing Company has explicitly stated that their new competency-based programs, now in development, will replace standardized testing. "With ongoing AIEd (Artificial Intelligence Education) analysis of a student’s learning activities, there will be no need for the stop-and-test approach that characterizes many current assessments. Instead of traditional assessments that rely upon evaluating small samples of what a student has been taught, AIEd-driven assessments … will assess all of the learning and teaching that takes place, as it happens" (p. 36).
This statement confirms suspicions that recent statements calling for a ceiling on standardized testing were designed to make way for a far more intrusive (and profitable) program, while giving the impression that they were a reaction to the successful opt-out movement.
Pearson also predicts that we won't need international tests such as PISA and PIRLS anymore; analysis of progress from their programs will tell us all we need to know (p. 48). Imagine: real time data always available from every classroom on the planet.
This will make testing fever worse than ever. We can expect daily reports about schools, school districts, states and countries announced on radio, television, newspapers, and on dedicated internet websites, just like sports news, announcing how much progress has been made in mastering modules. This will result it even more testing pressure on the schools. We can look forward to daily reporting like this:
"Fourth graders in Thailand have completed an average of 43 programs this month, compared to Spain's 42, moving Thailand into 39rd place internationally. Spain did not improve its rankings because of poor performance in several classrooms in Madrid, especially one taught by Estela Garcia at the Academica Arriba in which children completed only six programs this month."
Luckin, R., Holmes, W., Griffiths, M. and Forcier, L. 2016. Intelligence Unleashed: An Argument for AI in Education. London: Pearson.