Dialogue on Data

This is part of a series of letters I am exchanging with a colleague of mine on a variety of education-related issues. It originally appeared on her blog, No Sleep ’til Summer. I will post my response on Tuesday, March 20.

Dear Matt,

cc: all passionate and concerned teachers

Recently I wrote a post, a poem of sorts, about the value-added teacher data reports. I was expressing my frustration with the fact that the positives and challenges of my job as a teacher of ELLs, (most of whom are newcomers or SIFE students) are not simply ignored by this data but blatantly devalued. By the overwhelming response I received from colleagues and strangers alike, including current and retired teachers and principals, I know I’m not alone in how I feel.

As we discussed this and our experiences with teaching test prep units, you said that the issue, as you see it, is that data is bastardized. I would like to dig into this a little more, not just because teachers rarely get the time and opportunity to really discuss and analyze the issues within our profession in depth, but also because this is an area that is heavily covered in the media with, unfortunately, a wealth of misinformation and leading to a misinformed public who has even less time and less tools for critically analyzing the questions to any meaningful extent.

The public needs to understand that teachers aren’t simply lamenting changes to their job, or an increase in responsibilities and work load without a corresponding pay increase. We aren’t simply complaining about “doing more paper work”, or opposing what some see as the “professionalization” of the teaching “trade”.

So, let’s take time to provide a means for analyzing and discussing these issues that publicly encourages the “higher order” thinking it so desperately requires.

I’m going to address some of the most common public questions and concerns in upcoming posts, and I’d like to invite you to do the same. And, you know what? I’d like to open it up and invite other teachers to also contribute a post or suggestion on common misconceptions they feel need addressing.


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