I just looked at the Professional Development schedule for the day and saw one of the words that raises my shoulders to my ears – data.

Now the thing is, I get it. I look at scores, results. When I read a set of papers, I make my own data- who needs to work on what? What should I re-teach? How much and in what way(s) has each student improved?

And when I’ve taught alphabet soup classes (AP, IB), I want good scores and look at breakdowns (as I do with SAT and ACT scores).

Here’s my thesis: Numbers are something; they are just not everything.

I don’t need alliterative reminders like data-driven decision making. I especially don’t need epic meetings involving spreadsheets highlighted with ‘proof’ of my failures and my inability to add value. (Students are not farecards; I understand that there are some objections based on the statistics of the thing, but those arguments elude me.)

My biggest objection is pedagogical. What happens when we reduce students to numbers? What happens when we base teacher evaluations on numbers? The longer I do this, the more I understand how hard it is to define success, even when it comes to grades.

But that’s okay. I think we need to live in the conversation – as schools, as districts. The things is, I don’t think it can be defined. But I also think we need to keep trying.

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