Data…A Misrepresentation

Data tells a story. This statement can be true for many scenarios. Unfortunately in the classroom, data doesn’t tell the whole story. The job of the teacher would be much easier if we could just look at data about a child, do some magic, and then make a new data set. As we all know, this is not how the classroom works. It doesn’t even come close! Yet we are all still put in a position where we have to evaluate our students and ourselves based on normed data. Students are labeled as on grade level, below grade level, or above based on data. Too much of the time, teachers are faced with having to make the argument that the data doesn’t represent the whole child.

There are so many factors when it comes to children and learning that we can’t Clorox it down into a few pretty numbers. No teacher, I’m assuming, became a teacher because they wanted to give Mclass assessments for the first four weeks of school.  Below is a snapshot of my student’s scores from our beginning of year benchmark.

If I just looked at these numbers, I would have serious concerns about some students and no concerns about others.  This isn’t the whole picture.  For instance, one of my student’s who scored a level G on the TRC is actually able to read and comprehend a level K text.  The student kept dropping levels solely due to the student’s writing ability, the student wasn’t including details from the text to support the answer.  Since I know this, I now know that I need to focus on that one area instead of panicing since the student appears to need intensive support based on the data set.  This data is confusing and doesn’t show the whole picture.

Two of my graduate school colleagues teach first grade and third grade, the grade above and below my own.  They experience the same frustration with this type of data and the data collection process.  Too much emphasis is placed on one assessment and we don’t even feel that it is that accurate.  You can read their thoughts on The One With The First Grade Teacher and Around The Kidney Table.

We also created this video to express some student emotions on the topic.

What are your thoughts?  Do you experience the same frustrations?

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