What Contribution does “The Fight Club” Make to Progress in Education?

On May 17, 2012, political science professor Patrick McGuinn posted a paper titled: Fight Club Are advocacy organizations changing the politics of education? where he discussed a network of education reform advocacy organizations (ERAOs) that regularly meet to plan strategy for advancing their agendas that includes charter schools, alternative teacher preparation, and an emphasis on test scores.  It is a fascinating account of a network of organizations that many people know little or nothing about and yet have been busy over the last several years with ambitious and in some ways aggressive advocacy.  Read more ›

Posted in Research, Signs of the times, Uncategorized

What is a Data Governance Plan and Why is it Needed?

Data can be powerful. It provides analysts and businesses with insights into patterns and behaviors that mere intuition rarely can. It holds tremendous potential for education as well. At the same time, data can have personal and private information. The new tools flooding the market now. Care should be taken with data that relates to children or even those who work in schools is concerned. Read more ›

Posted in Big ideas & theories, Signs of the times, Uncategorized Tagged with: ,

Why is the KIPP Character Report Card Interesting?

The KIPP Character Report Card involves a set of metrics developed by KIPP for use in tracking their students. In 2005 Dave Levin, one of KIPP’s co-founders, began to look seriously at issues of student character. KIPP had always stressed both academics, including test performance, and personal traits such as empathy and determination. Read more ›

Posted in Signs of the times Tagged with: ,

Why Does The Educational Data Movement Mention Specific People and Organizations?

The book The Educational Data Movement: Crossing Boundaries, Searching for Student Success mentions many individuals and organizations by name  and often discusses connections between them.  Some of these individuals and organizations are associated with philanthropies and some are part of the Federal government.  Many are academics.  The reasons I did this were neither to focus on them as part of a conspiracy nor to show them as models of reform.  In the book I make efforts to judge the intentions or results (except in the few cases where there is a solid research base) of these people or organizations.  Instead, I want my reader to ask questions and draw their own conclusions.  There are three primary reasons I did this. Read more ›

Posted in Big ideas & theories, Uncategorized

Book on Educational Data Movement Almost Complete

    For Teacher College Press Technology, Education–Connections (TEC) Series

The Educational Data Movement: Crossing Boundaries in Search of Student Success
Educators are engulfed in a data movement pressing them to manage their social and human work using business concepts and tools. Initially, the movement appeared as another face of high-stakes testing and the product of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). However, it is emerging as a new area of educational practice that crosses organizational boundaries of leadership, policy, technology, curriculum, assessment, and teaching. As new forms of information develop, the movement raises unique questions about evidence and systemic design. To date, the literature in this area has fallen into one of two categories: 1) optimistic prescriptions for district/school performance or 2) compendia of research exploring the different locations in the rapidly changing educational data landscape in search of unifying frameworks. This book provides a needed sociotechnical and historical account. Read more ›

Posted in About, Big ideas & theories

Is Data-Driven Decision Making Dead or Just in Rehab?

The recent release of Teacher Data Reports (TDR) in New York City made the problems with evaluations based on tests scores visible for many people. The idea of evaluating teachers based on how well their students do is a simple and wonderful idea. Using a statistical model that can factor in the student’s background and what they might be expected to learn – the value-added model (VAM) – is a great even better. The problem is while these are great ideas, the data that come from them often stinks. It isn’t always awful, but almost always imprecise and in some cases as the teacher who teaches English Language Learners (ELLs) in New York who was recently ranked at the bottom because the students she served were unable to score well on the tests for reasons outside of her control, the problems are grave. The TDR debacle has no doubt given many proponents of VAMs some second thoughts.
Read more ›

Posted in Signs of the times, Teachers and data, Value-added models

Can MBAs Save Our Schools?

In a recent post, Chris Tessone with the slightly right-of-center Thomas B. Fordham Institute suggested MBA types working in school systems (supported by large foundations) should give up on that lost cause because the cultural and organizational issues are too deep and difficult. Instead, he argues, they should put all of their energy into charter schools. My response is twofold: 1) it is too soon to tell, and 2) that contrasting businesses and schools as vastly different without exploring how and why they are different (hint: profitability isn’t key) doesn’t help the discussion. Read more ›

Posted in Signs of the times

Should I Still Title My Book Managing to Teach?

When I began writing a book about education and the data movement, I found the title Managing to Teach compelling and appropriate. In addition to being short and active, the title spoke to the issue of management – instructional management – which is an important theme of this age. It also had dual meanings reflecting a balanced view of this era. Read more ›

Posted in Signs of the times

Is The Technology The Easy Part?

Many of the proponents of educational data will use the phrase that “technology is the easy part” and then explain why changing cultures and behaviors of people using the data is where the real challenges lie. On the face of it, this proposition makes a lot of sense. Read more ›

Posted in Big ideas & theories, Information infrastructure, Signs of the times, Top news stories

Can Education Data Reforms Learn from Business Experience with IT?

The past decade has seen increasing use of data collection and use in education along with principles from business for its use. The data were initially driven by high-stakes test scores following federal NCLB legislation and related programs around evidence. For many, data use is linked to NCLB, its narrow forms of data, and its failures. During this same decade other forms of data are often joining achievement data in data warehouses. New terms, including multiple measures for teacher evaluation and balanced scorecards for districts and schools, have been introduced to the discussion. Education has entered an era where information and data are being used in many ways similar to ways other fields and businesses to transform organizations for greater productivity and effectiveness. Read more ›

Posted in Big ideas & theories, Information infrastructure, Signs of the times, Uncategorized