Are you Data Driven or Numbers Driven? What about your district? In order to answer this question, we need to understand the difference.
The buzz word from the past 8 years or so. This is where teachers, schools, and/or districts collect data from students in order to guide instruction and progress. Most often this data comes in the form of formal and informal assessments. In my opinion, the most powerful assessments are the informal ones. The ones in which teachers observe students demonstrating understanding of a concept. Based on the information collected, the teacher knows best how to proceed with the students. In short, Data Driven is helpful, guiding, and reflective. It also focuses on the growth that students have made; it recognizes room for growth.
This one is a bit trickier. It masks as Data Drive but, in fact, is not. Let me try to explain what I mean. It mainly uses the formal assessments that were mentioned above. I have experienced Numbers Driven with districts (and by extension, state and federal). Many districts give summative assessments – benchmarks. I have heard administrators claim that the information will be used to help guide teachers. See, sounds like Data Driven, but this is where it takes a turn. What is said, and the actions that are taken are two different things. This is because there are (still) Pacing Guides. So when a teacher has given the 1st benchmark, regardless of the outcome, they need to move on to the next item(s) on the Pacing Guide. There is no time to reteach confusing concepts (according to the assessments). The Numbers Driven game tends to be competitive, punitive, and unhelpful to the stakeholders – students and teachers. Its sole focus is on the final number; it’s very finite.
I tend to be more Data Driven – based more on informal assessments. However, I get tangled in the web of Benchmark Assessments, from time to time. It’s easy to get sucked into the hype when you know you are being judged – and looked down upon – based on scores. Unfortunately, No Child Left Behind helped change the focus to Numbers Driven since that’s how money was/is allocated.
So let me ask my question again, are you Data Driven or Numbers Driven? What about your district?