The education system is OBSESSED WITH DATA and it is taking a toll on schools, teachers, and students everywhere. In my opinion, we need to start treating our students like "people" and not "data". I know "College & Career Ready" sounds really nice, but maybe it is time we start preparing them for life. Maybe it is time we start preparing them for being spouses, parents, friends, self advocates at the grocery store, doctor's office, etc...
If you are in education, I am sure you can relate to a professional development session in which you analyzed data. In our district we do it obsessively. These are some of the issues I have with this:
1. We are talking about students. When we try to objectify everything into a statistic, we lose focus of the fact that these are living, breathing, unique, and special people..... not just a bunch of data.
2. Data analyzes the past. We are in new and mysterious territory as we try to transform the education system to meet the needs of the digital age. A plethora of data from the past cannot always dictate the future. I know this is difficult to believe, but Christopher Columbus did not have a rubric that he was following in order to discover America.
3. The fact that schools put 100+ teachers in a room, 95%+ of who are NOT qualified to do any statistical analysis, many who have no clue how to do statistical analysis, and tell them to analyze the data is a JOKE, DISSERVICE TO STUDENTS, WASTE OF THE TEACHERS' TIME, and a WASTE OF TAXPAYERS money. Please stop. Hire one statistician to analyze the data and report it out. Let the teachers teach and build relationships with students.
Since we are obsessed with data, however, along with the fact that I have always like to work with data (usually related to sports statistics), I thought that I would "PLAY THE GAME" and analyze some data in education:
DATA REPORT #1
The issue: Too many students are dropping out of school. I recently read an article about this in which they pointed out some of the states that are doing the BEST job of having students graduate and some of the states that are doing the WORST job of having students graduate.
*** STATISTIC ALERT *** If you are in states like Iowa, New Jersey, and Wisconsin, you are doing really well at getting students to graduate. If you are in states like Georgia, New Mexico or Nevada, you are NOT doing well.
The article I was reading, which I intentionally do not name, suggests that we need to take a look at why some states are doing a good job of having students graduate high school, while others are doing terrible.
I decided to do some "STATISTICAL ANALYSIS" (which I am not qualified to do) in order to get to the bottom of this.
I decided to list the states in order, according to the percentage of students that graduate high school. After this, I gathered some more data about these states. What I found was this:
I first looked at average temperature during the months of November, December, January, and February. For the "TOP 10" and "BOTTOM 10" states, I eliminated the highest and lowest temperatures and averaged the other eight. What I found was this:
In the states in which the MOST students are dropping out of school, the average temperature in these "winter" months is: 58° F
In the states in which the LEAST students are dropping out of school, the average temperature in these "winter" months is: 38° F
After completing this elaborate statistical analysis of the data, I have reached the following conclusion.....
In warms states, where it is enjoyable to be outside year round, a LOT of students are choosing to drop out. In cold states, where it sucks to be outside in the winter, very few students are dropping out.
My analysis: School has become irrelevant to students. They are disengaged and do not see the value of what they are learning at school. School has become a "game". The "game" of school, however, is not as fun to play when it is nice outside. Therefore, in states with nice temperatures the students are deciding to drop out. In colder states, where it is painful and miserable to be outside during the winter months, students simply decide to stay indoors and play the game of school.
My solution: We need to figure out how to close the temperature gap. Maybe some of the colder states can talk to the warmer states and discuss how they get it so cold outside. Maybe we can have volunteer groups of teachers to explain how cold it can get outside. Ultimately, we need professional development on how to get it colder in our states so that kids decide to sit inside and go through the motions, thus raising the graduation rate. Maybe we could rally the government to start a program called "No State Temperatures Left Too High" or "Race to the BOTTOM of the thermometer"
DISCLAIMER: When I am in school as a teacher, or out of school, I am not qualified to analyze data. You should use my data, my analysis, and my solutions with caution as they may not have any validity or reliability. This probably should, however, count as professional development for you and improve your "teacher effectiveness" ratings. Let your principal know that you analyzed some extra data on your own time.
*** If this seems dumb to you.... that is because it is. It is also dumb when we have a plethora of teachers sitting in professional development analyzing data.
Hater of the status quo