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“Using data for progress, not punishment”

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Coming Together to Give Schools a Boost is the headline of an article in The New York Times, with a subtitle saying “A group of Cincinnati leaders are improving schools by using data for progress, not punishment.”

It describes how schools have been working with community groups and businesses in an effort called STRIVE. This name struck a chord for me because it was one of the efforts that Diane Ravitch highlighted in an interview I did with her in January when I asked her about “rays of hope” she saw in education.

The article talks a lot about how STRIVE uses data. I’m going to print an excerpt that is interesting, but I also have to admit its focus on data raises some concerns for me. Nevertheless, I’m going to add this post to The Best Resources Showing Why We Need To Be “Data-Informed” & Not “Data-Driven” and, for now, give them the benefit of the doubt that that, in practice, they are indeed more data-informed than they are data-driven. Here’s the excerpt:

The Cincinnati Public Schools, which has made gains with an ambitious turnaround program among its 16 lowest performing elementary schools, established “data war rooms” in each school. Teachers have meetings every two weeks, where they closely monitor students’ progress — looking at academic performance, behavioral issues, absenteeism and lateness as well as special services each child is receiving. Through the network, they can easily connect high-risk students with external resources like mentoring or tutoring. Moreover, they can track which programs make a difference — and why — and then share that information with everybody else. The result is that the network can engage in continuous learning based on evidence.

This is a powerful cultural shift, notes Jeff Edmondson, who led the Strive partnership for years and now is spreading the framework nationally. “In education, data has traditionally been used for punitive purposes, not for improvement,” he explained.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

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

One Comment

  1. On a less sanquine note, I share this from Tom Hoffman at TuttleSVC blog:
    http://www.tuttlesvc.org/2011/03/less-you-know-about-school-easier-it-is.html

    It’s even more disturbing because I don’t find it surprising based on the “mysterious” methodology that was first implemented last year to make up the “failing schools” list in our state.

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