3 Part Series on Education
Data Driven Education
Data has proven to be invaluable as a tool to identify weak spots in curriculum and also as a way to identify students in need of academic intervention. With the focus on data, something else happened. Education leaders, administrators, and teachers weren't talking about students as individuals, instead we began to hold data meetings and we started to refer to students simply as "above grade level", "at grade level", "progressing, but below grade level", or "needs improvement". And instead of just missing a student as a person when they moved away, teachers began to lament they weren't going to be able to claim standardized test scores of the academically talented students. At the same time, new students test scores began to be the first thing we checked to see how their scores would affect overall data for the upcoming testing season. All of a sudden, students scores dominated conversation. Those scores also now dominate teacher accountability and even the real estate markets in a given town.
We need an education reality check. I recently, "Liked" a Facebook posting that read "I Care More About the Person My Students Become Than The Scores On The Tests They Take". This doesn't mean I don't care about test scores and data. It does mean that society needs people who have integrity and character. Learning and test scores are important as a way of measuring what students are learning. Does it measure smart? What does smart mean? Does it strictly mean a high test score? Personally, I think data and test scores are part of the puzzle. Students can explain a concept but often can't write it. Students can demonstrate a concept by creating a project but they may not be able to read a word or understand a word on a standardized test and lose points.
Students need extra academic supports to increase their capacity to learn. Students with learning, physical, and emotional disorders also need special supports.
Our schools need to be the center point of our communities because our children are the center point of our future. If we invest in supporting our children academically and emotionally, we will invest in children who can not only answer questions right but also can face challenges and seek solutions.
Data is defining the self worth of our children, the value of a dedicated, compassionate caring teacher, and the marketability of our homes.