Data Informed-Good, Data Driven-Bad

I have already mentioned the obsessive nature some people have toward the quantification of learning.  In recent years, the term "data-driven" has become popular in education.  The idea is that the decisions we make in our classroom should be supported by solid numerical data.
Texas school's improvement coordinator (source unknown)

Again, you can't quantify learning.  Any empirical study of learning will fall short and give only a partial understanding of something far deeper than numbers.  Students are not just a collection of numbers (right).  A teacher's impact on a student's learning, psyche, and emotional well-being cannot be represented with a number.  To do so, is to insult our profession.  We are asked to be a teacher, parent, counselor, mentor, coach, etc. to our students, and some people want to judge us by a kid's score on one test?

There are other problems with being data-driven. It doesn't take a holistic view of the student or classroom. Any number of factors could explain a low score on a test; personal issues, test anxiety, bad questions, vocabulary issues, etc.  The data-driven mentality also breeds a certain type of gamesmanship in education, encouraging school leaders to only focus on the "bubble kids".  As my superintendent recently pointed out, ALL students are "at-risk", and to give special attention to a narrow portion of the student population only so they can pass a test pushes us farther from our mission statement.  Does this line up with our philosophy as educators?  Why pander to a bogus evaluation system?  Will constant remediation and gamesmanship inspire life-long learners? We should be data-informed, and driven only by needs of kids.

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