1. I also think there is a great irony that many school district statements “vision and mission statements” say very little about test scores, but when they measure if they are successful, that becomes the biggest driver.

    I love this. It’s so true and yet some educators have strayed so far from their visions in service of higher test scores. I have to believe they mean well and have just lost their way.

  2. I was just having a similar conversation with our Reading Coach about high flyers and the test ceiling. We came to the conclusion that one specific assessment needed supplemental data with students scoring two or more deviations above the mean. I am at the point of trying to design an interview/rubric because there’s no measure of “depth” in a standardized test (by nature of it being standardized). Moreover, we are trying so hard to differentiate instruction, process, and, even product, but doesn’t differentiated instruction call for differentiated assessments? Standardized assessments call for standardized instruction… which is impossible given the human factor. The frustration is that the powers that be seem to only be capable of using a single standardized test as the “data” used for making big decisions.

  3. Wow! Another great common sense, thought provoking post! As a grade 6 teacher in Ontario for 20 years I have seen every year of the provincial test. The test has changed very little while my teaching practice certainly has changed and evolved. At this point in my career, I am comfortable filtering what is important and what is not. What is important is that my students learn and are challenged to be effective problem solvers, critical thinkers, creative, reflective, collaborative, responsible and caring citizens in an ever changing twenty-first century world. Our school year is filled with many fun, rewarding, challenging and meaningful opportunities both within and outside of the classroom. It is important for me to foster in my students a love of learning and a realization that they each can make a positive difference in the world. If I lose perspective of what is truly important I will risk failing my students, for me, that is not an option.

  4. Kate Hinds

    Some really interesting comments on the use of data in schools. In the UK, there has been some doubts about the collection of data on the reading performance of 6 year olds – is this the datafication of teaching? Prof Dominic Wyse of UCL Institute of Education has some concerns about early years testing –

  5. Catherine

    I enjoyed your post. I would love some of your thoughts on this statement:

    “But we also have to still develop the “innovator’s mindset” in educators to encourage them to develop new ideas that may help the kids in front of them right now.”

    How do we teach this innovator’s mindset and encourage them to develop and adopt new ideas? This is my struggle. Getting teachers to try new things and buy in . . . perhaps in another blog post . . ???

    Thanks for always providing something to think about!

  6. I would hope that collecting data on student learning is part of the innovator’s mindset. I’m not talking about double-blind A/B studies that requires human-subjects ethics approval but rather, the kind of assessment an engaged and scholarly teacher would do anyway. How did my students do on a Homework Question 6? What is the range of answers for problem 3? If I drop all their sentences into Wordle, what are the frequencies of key words? Are there any patterns in the incorrect answers? These are all data we can use to teach better tomorrow or next year and share with colleagues to justify a new, innovative approach. These data are lot more than simply, “Hmm, I think that went pretty well today,” something I was guilty of doing before I switched to a growth and innovator’s mindset about my ability to teach and learn.

    • George

      Totally agree and I think that if formative assessment is done for learning, it will make a huge difference in the work that we do with students and guide our practice daily, as opposed to yearly.

  7. Thanks for this post!
    If a child receives a “high score” on a test but forgets everything that was on that test in a month is that really success?
    I think there’s too much of an emphasis on content based curriculum. We try to cover too much when we should be encouraging students to think deeper about what they’re learning.
    When we rely too much on data and test scores to drive our teaching we lose the individual child and miss wonderful opportunities to reach that child and make a difference in how they view the world.

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