The Harrowing, Narrowing Effects of Data
by Kendall K. Paine - October 30, 2015
The use of data has produced a narrowing effect in education. It has caused schools to narrow the content we are teaching, focusing on key learning targets (e.g. Common Core State Standards). At the same time, it has caused us to narrow the students we are teaching. Since schools are evaluated by proficiency percentages, educators are using data to create categories of “green,” “yellow,” and “red” students, and diverting resources disproportionately toward “yellow” students as a means of boosting overall percentages. This commentary discusses the consequences of this phenomenon, particularly on student equity and on teacher morale. It ends by urging school systems to use data in a way that tracks growth rather than performance, in an effort to mitigate the triaging effect.
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