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Data Driving: At The Intersection Of Arbitrary And Meaningful

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NOTE TO READERS: This post's title was originally "Data Driving Under The Influence." That didn't convey the meaning I was trying to convey, and, more importantly, it was tasteless (this is why I usually stick with boring titles). I apologize, and have changed the title. MD

Hi Matt, This is my first time reading your blog, so forgive me if this is a bit more general of a response to your comments, or if you've addressed this previously. I think it's important to understand that "data-driven decision-making" in education doesn't really have its roots in the accountability movement, and really can't be fairly summarized by its use in that department. Data-driven instruction/decision-making is really more of a concept designed to allow educators - from classroom to district or even state levels - to make better decisions related to instruction and education overall. This may seem like an obvious statement, but the reason I'm taking the time to write this comment is that I think certain ideas are being vastly misrepresented by anti-reformers, and I think it's important to continue to defend things like "data-driven decision-making" so that educators don't feel as though that's a concept based in corporate reform, designed to evaluate teachers based on year-end tests. What I've noticed is that certain concepts, including the idea of "reform" itself, has left many with a bad taste in their mouth because they've seen some pretty bad examples recently. The truth is that there are many struggling students and many struggling schools, and that we DO need to be focused on continuous improvement. Data-driven decision-making has been historically used by most educators, at least in a way that makes a lot of sense, and I think it's important that we don't throw out concepts such as "data-driven decision-making" because a few people we don't like have used it in a few ways we don't like. I know that in the process of day-to-day blogging it may be cumbersome to remind folks of those bigger picture issues, but I think it's important at least some of the time to frame things in appropriate contexts. Maybe you do this and I've just stumbled on a non-example, but including phrases like "we do value data-driven decision-making, but here's an example of how it's being misused" would be immensely valuable so that the bandwagon of educators enlisted in the anti-reform movement aren't misled to think any and all new ideas that come about are inherently bad unless they were developed by and for teachers. Thanks Matt.

When Michael Bloomberg first ran for mayor, he told voters that he wanted to be judged on the progress of the schools. At his urging, the state of New York essentially replaced the elected school board(s) with mayoral control, in New York City. Yes, Bloomberg has a day job, and he told his constituents that his performance in this job should be judged based upon the progress the schools made. This is not some minor or tangential issue. How we recognize or judge the progress of the schools is absolutely central to how this mayor said we should evaluate him. I, therefore, have rather little doubt that he understands all this. And if he does not, that reveals a degree of ignorance and thoughtlessness about a central issue that is -- in view far -- far worse than spouting a bunch of blather about what will happen with the new CCSS tests. As he is now long past the legal limits of his terms in office that were in place when he was first elected, there would be no excuse for such ignorance.

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