Based on an earlier blog post, I thought I ought to write a little more to clarify what my thinking is around being data-informed rather than data-driven. Please note that this is not research based at all, it is simply my own thoughts around doing what I think is best for students.
There are many factors to consider when developing a portrait of what a child knows and is able to do. Assessment data alone, especially in the form of state level testing-a once a year, one-shot deal-I don’t think should be the sole determining factor of future instruction or intervention. Now, I’m not saying that it is like that everywhere, but there is definitely a push in recent years to let this test or that test dictate things like Intervention Services, Ability Groupings, and possibly even Promotion.
Even if we include local assessments, boiling core knowledge down to a few multiple-choice questions seems not only somewhat irresponsible but also a little impersonal and mechanical. (Though I know it’s not THAT extreme in most cases.)
I know the evidence has to be there to inform direction…it’s what formative assessment is all about. All I’m really saying here is that the information that is gathered to direct a student’s educational pathway should be multi-faceted. The assessment data should be just a piece of the puzzle, particularly if the assessment data is coming from just one place.
We teach our students to gather multiple pieces of evidence before drawing conclusions. Shouldn’t the teachers be doing the same thing? Besides state test data, we can look at local data, formative data (collected from classroom teachers). We can look at how a student has historically performed. We can create instructional paths based on interest and readiness, or on deficiencies that a multiple-choice test might miss.
I’m just not a big fan of the “bottom line” mentality. We’re teaching humans, not machines. We measure to inform, not dictate, and we should be making instructional decisions, I think, based on multiple factors. When I say “data-informed,” that’s what I’m thinking.