Moving Beyond the Single Data Point
“In God we trust; all others bring data,” said the management guru W. Edwards Deming. At the Data Quality Campaign, we champion the power of data to improve student achievement. However, if there is not trust in the quality of the data—and how they will be used—this information will not change conversations, decisions, and actions in order to help students succeed.
During these summer months, principals and superintendents are sitting down to make personnel decisions, some of which will be shaped for the first time by value-added teacher scores. One of the hottest questions in education is whether to name individual teachers publicly with their value-added performance data. Publicly disclosing these numbers alone—which are neither in context nor useful—gives parents incomplete information, puts misguided pressure on administrators, and sabotages vital trust with teachers.
A favorite mantra at the DQC is “data as a flashlight, not solely as a hammer.” The predominant culture around data use in education has been too focused on compliance and punishment. That needs to change. Data are only as good as they are useful—and that includes teacher-performance data. Accountability and transparency are important uses of these data. But it is also crucial to get these data into the hands of teachers themselves as soon as the information is available. Too often, they...
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- The Berkeley Institute, HAMILTON, Bermuda
- Amargosa Valley Elementary School, Amargosa Valley, NV
- Round Rock ISD, Round Rock, TX
- Charter School Director (Head of School)
- International Preparatory Academy, Detroit, MI
- Chattahoochee Hills Charter School, Multiple Locations