Thursday, September 11, 2014

When data isn't a bad thing

As part of an interview earlier today, I was asked if I thought it was time that we got rid of "all this data" and the focus we have on it. My answer was something like part of this.
"Data" is just a fancy name for information, and information is a good thing for parents deciding on schools for their kids, for students to know what's going on with their schools, for teachers deciding on jobs...for all of us. The problem with "data"at the school level is that we've made the word mean too little, not too much.
Colorado, as linked above, is now providing statewide data on which schools have full-time nurses, school-based health centers, and thirty minutes of recess. THIS IS A GOOD IDEA*.
Here, off the top of my head, are other things I'd love for us all to know about our kids' schools**:
  • class sizes
  • access to library (with information on how often they go)
  • amount of time spent studying social studies and science (for elementary)
  • minutes of gym class, music class, art class
  • if there is an art room, a music room, a gymnasium
  • if there is a playground
  • broadband speed access in the building
  • ratio of students to: assistant principals, guidance counselors, adjustment counselors, nurses
*What I don't like is the idea of tracking individual health stats (BMI, anyone?) for students. 
**some, though not all of this, is available for Worcester Public Schools in the annual budget. Think about your own list, and let's work on this.

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