Monday, February 22, 2010

Obama Tries New Tack to Collect Student Data

Original Article
Student Data Systems, Unite!

But when it comes education, we need to think about education first, not the research.
Personally, I like this one:

"For it to succeed, it can't be loaded with those who think unlimited data collection is the holy grail of educational reform." by Ms. Flanagan.

Here are couple of my thoughts - comments welcome:
On the onset, people supporting the tracking like to quote the accountability as the reason. But, there is a problem. If you really want accountability, you should know how to delegate responsibility. If state is responsible for educating the K12 students, I see no reason for other people to snoop around on those individual records. All you need to do is knowing how many students come from that state is not performing and leave the task to the state. This concept applies to other smaller entities too. Research is a different issue. Researcher can contract with entities and help them with the task of improving their performance.

The other popular idea/practice behind the tracking is to define students' success on their performance at the next level in their life. Federal Government can then trace back to students' prior encounters (i.e. schools, teachers ... etc) and hold them accountable. This approach is, in a way, very handy for the Federal Government or any big brothers, since they do not need to set the curriculum defined success before hand but can always accuse schools for not setting the curriculum high enough.

For accountability to work, each entities should be targeted/given a clearly determined or agreed-to goals and evaluated against it. If such an objective goal have been set, a high school will already know if they met their responsibility or not. There is no use of the tracking system.

The task of the Federal Government or Colleges is to work with high schools to work out what is the reasonable goal for the high school graduates and to develop suitable objective evaluation methods.

I am a researcher and I love data. But when it comes education, we need to think about education first, which happen to be teaching responsibility, not the research.

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