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I Wish Secretary Duncan Would Stop Being “Data-Driven”

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Education Secretary Duncan is going to be giving a speech on Thursday where he calls, once again, for a testing system that “accurately and fairly measures student growth and uses data to drive instruction and teacher evaluation.”

I’ve posted before about the crucial difference between being “data-driven” and being “data-informed,” which I learned from Ted Appel, our principal.

Here’s an excerpt from that post, which I wrote earlier this month after state testing results came-in:

If schools are data-driven, they might make decisions like keeping students who are “borderline” between algebra and a higher-level of math in algebra so that they do well in the algebra state test. Or, in English, teachers might focus a lot of energy on teaching a “strand” that is heavy on the tests — even though it might not help the student become a life-long reader. In other words, the school can tend to focus on its institutional self-interest instead of what’s best for the students.

In schools that are data-informed, test results are just one more piece of information that can be helpful in determining future directions.

You can read more what that looks like in practical terms for me this year by reading that post,  “Data-Driven” Versus “Data-Informed.”

Thanks to Andres Henriquez for the tip on the USA Today article.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

One Comment

  1. I couldn’t agree more. I have a couple of students in my ESOL class who could almost certainly do well in the next higher level, but I have a dilemma. Many of the other students will probably not pass the level they are in so if I move out my two best students my own pass rates may well fall below the floor targets, resulting in questions being asked about my teaching.

    In my view being data-driven is fundamentally incompatible with quality of service to the students.

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