Data in Schools

Discussion in 'General Education' started by MrK, Feb 14, 2017.

  1. MrK

    MrK Rookie

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    Feb 14, 2017

    So I had a meeting with my AP today and we talked about forming PLCs in our school for next year and, lucky for me, they're using my department as the guinea pig. As he was going over the ideas of PLC, the thing that kept popping up was data, data, data. I already use data in formative and summative assessments, in common planning times, in behavior, in tracking tardiness, in standardized testing.... so on and so on. It's a buzzword I'm liking less and less as time goes on. I'm in my 3rd year and at my last school, we didn't have as much data tracking as I do now. I dunno....

    I guess my question to y'all is do you think there's too much data in schools or not enough? Is it this decade's buzzword? Is it beneficial? What do you all think? I just want to get some insight and I like hearing opinions.
     
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  3. FrankFromFranklin

    FrankFromFranklin Rookie

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    Feb 15, 2017

    I teach in a school in Virginia where data is talked about every day. We have SOL tests and since we are such a small school literally every student counts. We do three "benchmark" exams before the SOL and I spend maybe 5-10 hours on each benchmark with my team and the admin. analyzing and going over that data. I have put the same data into so many different charts it almost makes my head explode. I cannot stand it
     
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  4. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Feb 15, 2017

    I generally get frustrated with buzz words in general, but some are around for a good reason. I do think the emphasis on data is good, but we should remember that "data" is broader than just numbers from an assessment - it includes informal observations, etc. More formal, quantitative data has been under-represented in education for a while now, so I'm happy to see it in the spotlight, but sometimes we place too much emphasis on a specific number, without understanding the context of that number.
     
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  5. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Feb 15, 2017

    Data has taken over in my district too. To the point that the most successful teachers are the ones that teach only basic facts, drill and kill, so they can get high standardized test scores. Love of learning, rigor and relationships are tossed out the window because those cannot be quantified.
     
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  6. Backroads

    Backroads Connoisseur

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    Feb 15, 2017

    I actually like data, but I think many schools are in awkward phase in how to deal with it. I agree it's been generally underused and it definitely has a crucial spot in education. But it seems to be being used for data's own sake (bad) or schools are still trying and failing to find efficient and sensible systems for using it.
     
  7. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I hate to say it, but i always thought SOL meant 'sh__ out of luck.'.
     
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  8. MLB711

    MLB711 Comrade

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    Feb 15, 2017

    When I told my family in my home state that the Virginia tests were called SOLs (I went to college in VA), they laughed at me for this exact reason.

    I think data has its place but high stakes testing drives data to extremes where it becomes disingenuous.
     
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  9. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Rookie

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    Feb 15, 2017

    Data has its place, but too often it's taken out of context or gleaned from methods that aren't approved by statisticians as accurate metrics. I've worked as a scorer, and I can tell you that some of the questions on these tests are so poorly worded that the kids don't understand what the question is asking. Some of the tests don't really assess the content properly either; like how the ACT science relies very little on science knowledge and is heavily weighted towards reading graphs and data tables. To get a full picture of student growth or mastery, you need qualitative assessment as well as quantitative.

    Off-topic a little, but Ohio State used to offer a course titled, "How to Lie with Statistics". LOL Anyone know if that's still a course?
     
  10. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Feb 15, 2017

    I actually enjoy analyzing data :oops: but it definitely depends on what it is and how it's used. I think my current school does a really good job at collecting data that is relevant and individualized. In my last building I was a classroom teacher in an inner city school where about 70% of kids were below grade level, often significantly so. Of course, we had to do tons and tons of stuff with data. We actually had a 2nd plan period every day (while our kids were in their EL classes) so we could have a daily "data team." It sounds great, but it was set up so poorly and micromanaged to the point where it was essentially useless. All of our "data" was based off of grade level assessments that were meant to mimic the state test. A significant portion of our kids struggled so much with reading that they weren't even able to access the material in the first place. We also spent hours upon hours in this data team plugging information into redundant forms, and all it told us was basically what we already knew, since we knew kids couldn't read the test in the first place. That time would have been extremely valuable had we been allowed to really dig into giving differentiated assessments and analyzing where the kids' gaps were.

    I also really don't like when data is used to "punish" teachers, entire schools/districts, or administrators, especially when so many factors are outside of our control. Often data that is used this way is also based on grade level standards only (state tests), so it doesn't show the progress that students have made/are making. Students can make significant progress and still be "unsatisfactory" on the state test. Even looking at "growth" from last year's state test to this year's isn't valid IMO, because the tests aren't measuring the same things.
     
  11. DobbyChatt

    DobbyChatt Rookie

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    Feb 15, 2017

    Data. Yes, it's useful. Yes, it's a buzzword and much of our time is wasted "talking" about data instead of just being able to do our jobs.

    I know some may disagree, but if you need a data chart complete with statistics to understand which of your students understand a concept......find a new career.
     
  12. FrankFromFranklin

    FrankFromFranklin Rookie

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    Feb 16, 2017

    this is exactly it. I was told after a formal observation by the P and the AP both to cut down on some of the "fluff" (...its history class, its interesting when you tell the story) and stuck with the curriculum. It wasn't putting us behind or even hurting the kids. heck most of them understood the material better. it really is a shame
     
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  13. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Feb 16, 2017

    The only way to make data more manageable is to learn when and how to utilize it. That took me months of attending PLC meetings and then taking a class on how to use data to inform decisions. Once I learned how to pinpoint a widely missed standard and monitor growth and understanding in subsequent assessments, it became much more useful.
     
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  14. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Feb 17, 2017

    But data can and do represent all of those variables, it's just that our district leaders & policy makers don't focus on them. No one told those leaders to do drill & kill or only focus on basic facts. Certainly data itself didn't make the call. Data is a broader concept than standardized test scores.
     
  15. vincischool

    vincischool Rookie

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    Mar 5, 2017

    Yes, Data is very useful in schools. It's helpful to increase student outcomes.High-quality education data are essential for improving students achievement in school and preparing them for success in life.
     
  16. MrTempest

    MrTempest Rookie

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    Mar 7, 2017

    I believe data is important. But the I am fearful by the way I have seen data used. Because there is so much emphasis on producing the right numbers to show the right things, I have too often seen numbers skewed. I would like to see data used more in scenarios where the stakes are purposely limited. This would be to permit poor numbers as an accurate reflection as something to address and not to reprimand.
     
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  17. 4SquareRubric

    4SquareRubric Rookie

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    Mar 8, 2017

    Especially in PLCs, it's not important what you measure, it's important what you measure again. The rabbit hole of using student data is the tendency to over analyze trying to find the "right" standard or the "right" student deficiency.

    I enjoy supporting schools look at their data, but I limit the amount of time they are allowed to look at a spreadsheet or a table of numbers. Those numbers only help you decide where to look. The real answers are in the student work. Our goal is always to get to the actual student work as quickly as possible. From there, we decide what to focus on and how we will measure it again in the future.

    The only point of looking at data in a PLC is to bring a group of educators to consensus on a problem they want to solve together. It really doesn't matter what you choose. If students improve at a faster rate on a standard or a skill because the PLC chose it as a focus than that is good enough. What's worse is teams taking 3 to 4 months to identify something they want to work on.
     

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