Monday, July 27, 2009

First, a word from others who get it

Before I go on to Secretary Duncan's Race to the Top remarks, let me first post this from ASCD Whole Child:

Educators use data for two major purposes: accountability and performance improvement. Accountability requires schools to prove something, while performance improvement is focused on improving student performance. The conversation in the media, at the state and federal levels, and often, in schools is focused overwhelmingly on accountability. In addition, we traditionally create assessments and collect data that measure accountability rather than identifying the factors that influence learning. As long as we continue to devote the majority of our energy, time, and resources to proving something, we will make less significant strides toward improving the education of each child.

We must be strategic in the questions we ask about quantitative data and ensure that we collect qualitative data to help identify and address causes rather than just dealing with effects. Stakeholders at all levels must use data to identify and address the factors that influence student learning. We assume that data lead to conclusions, yet they can only suggest what may have caused the result. Data rarely, if ever, identify cause and effect. When we focus on identifying the causes of both success and failure, data becomes not a dirty four-letter word but an essential ingredient in the recipe for educating the whole child.

You can find more from them here.

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