They can stand-in for the careful cognitive thought process necessary to improve the system They can serve as dressed-up rationales for the same ole fads, i.e. different words for the same idea They can be used to justify incoherent proposals to decision-making bodies
What exactly does itmean to use data or research to inform decisions?
The Old Stupid = resistance to performance measures Today over-reliance on performance measures has lead to a dependence on a few simple metrics Graduation rate Expenditures Reading and Math test scores of 3rd through 8th grade students
Element #1 - Using Data in Half-baked Ways Element #2 – Translating Research Too Simplistically Element #3 – Giving Short Shrift to Management Data
Future Superintendent - “Day one, we’re going to start identifying those higher value-assessed teachers and moving them to the schools that aren’t making AYP.” Can we be confident that teacher who are effective in t heir current classrooms would be equally effective elsewhere? What effect would shifting teachers to different schools have on the likelihood that teachers would remain in the district? Are the measures in question good proxies for teacher quality? What steps might either encourage teachers to accept reassignment or improve recruiting for underserved schools?
Truly embrace the data by asking and answering the hard questions Consider organizational realities Contemplating unintended consequences
Even policies or practices informed by rigorous research can prove ineffective if the translation is clumsy or ill considered Most vexing problem in “research-based practice” is the failure to recognize the limits of what even rigorous scientific research can tell us Decisions about governance, management and compensation cannot be examined under controlled conditions
Data-driven system is the result of leaders embracing student achievement data instead of paying attention to collecting/using more relevant data to improve the performance of schools and districts Current achievement data are of limited use for management purposes Student achievement measures are largely irrelevant to judging the performance of many school district employees
Not simply indentify effective teachers or struggling students, but should also help render schools and school systems more supportive of effective teaching and learning Require that data assessments need to be returned quickly, rather than years after it was first administered
Key #1 – Educators should be wary of allowing data/research to substitute for good judgment Key #2 – Schools must actively seek out the kind of data they need as well as the achievement data external stakeholders need Key #3 – Educators should have an understanding of the limitations of research as well as its uses, especially when crafting policy Key #4 – School systems should reward educational leaders and administrators for pursuing more efficient ways to deliver services rather than punish them
Research and data are powerful tools In this era, educators stand to benefit enormously from advances in research and data systems Be careful of catching “data enthusiasm” – you might miss the bigger picture
Hess, F. M. (2009). The new stupid. Educational Leadership , 66 (4), pp. 12-17.