Don’t buy into both issues for the price of one.

Main Page Add comments

Whatever we might think about the possibility of media outlets or other purveyors of the ‘public interest’  creating league tables of school performance by harvesting data which will become available on the MySchool website, we need to think a little more carefully about whether we can afford not to have the continuous data available which has allowed schools to really make an observable difference for children and young adults.

Schools have become very used to using the data available from testing to plan teaching, and to best target resources. We are especially interested in ‘growth’ between years, as this provides tangible evidence of our ability to make a difference and: this is what most of us hope to do.

Back in 2005 I wrote an Education Week message to Principals.  I hope you might have the time for a read. You’ll get to see some of the things which I believe, and, while some of the priorities around issues have changed the beliefs still remain. A brief excerpt follows:

Part of the richness also came from spending time deliberately focusing on the good that we do, and the good that we can do.  I know that you will all, this week in particular, be trying to showcase the good that your school does, in the best way possible: the demonstration of the joy that children have taken in their learning. We can never forget the look on the face of a child who displays work to a close adult who cares, and who obviously looks like they are comfortable relating to the teacher: as a professional educator and, also, as a significant caring adult within the same child’s life.  The desired outcome is, after all, similarly shared. Most of us want our schools to be places where children are happy, where teachers care and, where children learn.

It has always struck me that the most powerful predictor to a child’s school “success” is not so much socio-economic status as the attitude toward learning which forms part of the child’s family culture. The attitude toward learning and, in particular toward the local school’s ability to provide learning leaves a child at the point of contact with formal school in the best state of preparation possible: they want to be there and they want to know how to find out stuff ! There are, of course, always links between this and those who have seen the positive benefit of an attitude like this.  We should not, however, continue to use this as our only “rule of thumb” or we will continue to lose sight of our primary asset: the strength of our diversity and the ability of the people in our schools to do magnificent, inclusive work.

More recently, in this blog, I wrote about the concept of tight loose tight, and also of our need to move from School Planning to Planning School.  We can only do both of these things if we have access to the means to measure our improvement.  And, I agree, test data, is not the totality at all and fails to measure so much else which is massively important.  As an indicator, however, it can’t be ignored. It allows us to match a mark to a face and a child, and work with all of the significant people in the child’s life to collaboratively plan school which provides the best options possible, for them.

It allows us to challenge the belief that the child’s environment and background means that we can’t make much of a difference for them.  It allows us to show that we can empower children through creating schools as places where they can give voice to their curiosity and be led, in partnership with their parents, parent or significant others on planning how to satisfy that curiosity, to demonstrate the outcomes of the process and then to point to clear evidence of their growth.

And yes, if there is little growth, we certainly ask questions.  All of us, as we trawl through our schooling memories can recall teachers and that they were different.  Do we imagine that has suddenly changed?

It s the quantification that also allows us, though, to see where there has actually been little difference being made at all, and the questions which might follow this are relevant and reasonable.

Whatever we might think about the worth of people, who aim to create comparitive tables, it seems to me that disrupting our once a year snapshot in time which lets us know just how well all the hard work we put in has paid off is cutting off our nose to spite our faces.

If you have the chance and time, have a look at the message which is now ‘soo 2005!’

One Response to “Don’t buy into both issues for the price of one.”

  1. Tweets that mention __ LIPS – Leading in Proactive Schools » Blog Archive » Don’t buy into both issues for the price of one. -- Says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by SimonBorgert, Roger Pryor and Jan Green, Edtech Feeds. Edtech Feeds said: [from scottmcleod] Can we afford NOT to be data-driven?: [...]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

WP Theme & Icons by N.Design Studio
Entries RSS Comments RSS Log in