>I personally believe that the 'quantitative techniques' (and tools/processes) are not really relevant or appropriate to apply to human beings and their problem-solving or learning processes.
I'm sympathetic to your view, but I think some amount of monitoring is essential to ascertain that kids are being given what amounts to something like standardized treatment, i.e., they are getting what we pay for. (Now, choice of what treatment is desired is another matter, but you could hardly argue for choice if you don't know what is being offered is the first place.) Another type of monitoring is needed to determine, if, Johnny, can, in fact read.
The article paints a picture though of monitoring and data collection in clearly excessive amounts. So, digging deeper, I would want to know can all that data gathering even be rationalized as supporting one of the above two goals. If not, I would be immediately suspect of its necessity.
For the remaining data collection, I would ask whether at what point it becomes so intrusive as to be absolutely counter-productive. If one is in the hospital, blood is drawn for testing and monitoring. But if its drawn every half hour, it may start to counteract your healing.
So, where I agree with you, is that in situations like education that have been traditionally been based on close relationships (though that now is slipping away) injecting a lot of data gathering can interact negatively with what is going on. Another way of viewing the original article's claim that in the past, the system was "loose". I think another way of saying that is that it was based on trust. The more intrusive the monitoring, the more trust leaves the scene, with negative consequences.