The reality is that there is no replacement for external, impartial, evaluative achievement data. In fact, the very reason we talk so much about the “achievement gap” today, and the reason that we are so focused on how best to close that gap—through a combination of educational and social services—is because of the hard facts that our current crop of state standardized tests has provided.
When an excellent principal is hired at a high-poverty school, time for teacher training and collaboration increases, student test scores rise by 5 to 10 points annually, and ineffective teachers begin to leave—yes, even under today’s often overly restrictive tenure policies. When a good principal departs, the progress unwinds and student achievement drops. In short, principals have a unique power to multiply the effects of good teaching and help close achievement gaps.
Is there another form of communication besides email where the acknowledged goal is to hide all of the communication? Email has evolved into a weird medium of communication where the best thing you can do is destroy it quickly, as if every email were a rabid bat attacking your face. Yet even the tragically email-burdened still have a weird love for this particular rabid, face-attacking bat. People love to tweet about how overwhelming it all is. They write articles about email bankruptcy and proclaim their inbox zero status. Email is broken, everyone agrees, but it’s the devil we know. Besides, we’re just one app away from happiness. A tremendous amount of human energy goes into propping up the technological and cultural structure of email. It’s too big to fail.
If you ask professional educators in a public forum whether they view parents as assets or liabilities, the answers will vary only in decibel level: ‘Assets,’ ‘Our greatest asset,’ ‘invaluable partners,’ and so forth. But what if you caught them off guard, late at night after a few drinks, say?
Or, better yet, what if you simply examined how most schools treat parents?
Students are not products. We have a long way to go across the industry in getting everyone on board with protecting students’ [data privacy].
Cameron Evans, Microsoft’s chief technology officer for U.S. education
Data gives power to teachers. If we know my child is confusing rates and ratios, a teacher can correct that one misunderstanding that is preventing progress. If we know in great detail where misconceptions are occurring, as they occur, teaching can include many such tiny just-in-time interventions for each unique student that allows that child to learn more quickly and deeply.
What if one day teachers walked into their classrooms and all their students listened to their every word, followed every direction, handed in every assignment and passed every test? Would this be the perfect scenario for our schools?