The Data That Schools Should Really Care About

If you’re a teacher, you know about data. You should pretest and post-test to note progress. You should track student math scores over time and make small groups based on what skills are missing. You should track writing scores and focus on which proficiencies to work on as a whole grade.

But what the data doesn’t measure is a lot. There are numerous posts about how to measure heart, how to measure perseverance, how to measure kindness. There are posts about tests scores for schools in poverty and more affluent schools.

I’d like to see a different type of data measured.

I’d like to see how use of time in the classroom affects student learning. As in how much time on task affects scores. I’d like to see how students perform who are only tested once every four years compared with every year. I’d like to see how feeling clean and safe in a school affects students’ ability to learn. I’d like to see how scheduling decisions affect student performance.

For example, how do students perform in the morning, compared to in the afternoon? How do students perform when sitting in different peer group? How do students perform when two adults are in the room working, rather than one? How do they do in specials’ classes versus core classes? How do students perform when their parents value reading, school, respect, versus when parents blame, excuse, make fun of, or bully hardworking teachers?

How do students perform when the teacher emphasizes respect for one another before academic learning takes place? How do students perform who are taught with a combination of activities vs consistency? How do students perform when there are positive behavior rewards in a school, when there are consequences for misbehaving, and when there are both? Classes that include activities like reading, community building, art, group work, presentations, hands-on learning- how do they perform compared to classes that are focused on independent seat work? What affect does homework have on learning?

Let’s see data on students who don’t own phones compared to those that do. When I ask my students how many texts they send in a day, anyone with a phone will answer in the 100s. THE 100s!!!! Every. School. Day.

And while my school enforces a no cell phones out during school policy, not all of them do.

Imagine teaching 8th grade. Spanish. When it’s last class of the day. But just once a week so kids don’t really take it seriously. And you normally teach high school and have NO support from the middle school teachers, parents, or school disciplinarians. Oh, and because it’s the last class of the day, they’ve already packed up. (WHICH MEANS THEY MENTALLY ARE CHECKED OUT!) And you have no access to their iPads so you can’t play engaging online games with them. And did I forget to mention there are mean girls in the class making fun of you and boys so physical they’re bouncing off the walls?

And if you don’t succeed with teaching them, YOU’RE held accountable. It’s YOUR fault because you don’t have a valuable relationship with them. Or you’re not likeable enough. All of which are unrealistic expectations. Because you need some type of support, and just aren’t getting it.

So you feel like a failure. Except you’re the one set up.

Fortunately, this is not my reality as a teacher. But it IS the reality of someone I know. And I understand every one of these problems to the core. Because they have each been my problem in the past. Not all at once, maybe. Not exactly the same way in the same year. But still. How frustrating.

Cause honestly, all teachers want to do is teach.

And we are expected to do everything but.

Where’s the data on that?

Tell me your opinion in the comments below

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