Sunday, February 24, 2013

Let's Measure

Much has been written in the media and blogs about Bill Gates' recent annual letter.  In it he talks about the importance of measurement to improve the human condition.

As a person with a math and science background I can appreciate the desire to measure.  I think it was perhaps Peter Drucker who is known for saying, "What gets measured, gets done."  So who gets to determine what gets measured?

What I want to measure might be different from what Mr. Gates would like to measure.  We know from our own data that you need to look at it through multiple lenses in order get a full picture.  It seems common place for folks to manipulate data to support a particular position or ideology.  And let's not forget about this book.

The problem is that organizations use the data that supports their premise while ignoring the data that doesn't. 

Learning from Twitter

Last week I attended the National Conference on Education.  There were some great sessions and speakers.  We heard from Jim Collins, Linda Darling-Hammond, and Yong Zhao.  I heard all three speakers, but it is impossible to attend all the sessions.  Thankfully most conferences now post session presentations in some manner. 

But during the first presentation I learned something.  I was trying to take notes as well as Tweeting out various thoughts on the conference hashtag #nce13.  About halfway through that first session I decided that I really didn't need to take notes.  Instead I could follow the hashtag and essentially get notes from lots of people.

There weren't folks Tweeting in every session.  In fact I expected more Tweeting than what there was.  At any rate, I was able to learn quite a bit out of other sessions.  And my personal learning network grew.

I recently joked that Facebook is for gossip and Twitter is for learning.  My experience last week reinforced that Twitter can certainly be used for learning.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Does the 88% matter?

8,760 hours in 365 days.  Missouri requires a minimum of 1,044 hours of school attendance in at least 142 days.

If a student has perfect attendance we have them in our care for 11.92% of a year.  Surely what happens in that other 88% makes a difference.

Lasers work

David Kirp recently wrote about how to fix bad schools.  He used the example of a school district that had turned itself around.

This is the story of a district that focused (see Bullets vs. Lasers post) on a few things and made great strides over time. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A-F is a step backwards

The Tweets below came from Missouri's Student First group today during a House Education Committee meeting today.

 #hb388 hearing in committee today. Yes! Parents deserve rich & meaningful info re: school performance. @Kathyswan147@molegislature

 MO elem & second Ed committee learns abt importance of A-F letter grades to all schools. #hb388@Kathyswan147

Our district, and many others, are at varying stages of implementing some sort of standards-based grading because the A-F grades don't provide a full picture.  This became evident as we started providing more specific assessment data to parents.  One of our parents came to us saying her daughter had an A in math but the skill specific data showed she was weak in measurement.  The mom reported she thought everything was okay because of the A.

There is currently a wealth of information about every school and district available on our state website.  Going to the A-F system pushed by ALEC is a step backward from the way we're moving in our classrooms.