MUCH MORE TO EDUCATION THAN DATA (1)

Within schools it sometimes happens that scheduled meetings have to be cancelled. Staff are advised they should use the time for inputting and recording of student data. The first call on teachers’ programmed release from face-to-face teaching, is the use of non-contact time for recording purposes.

Data is important. Student progress should be regularly recorded in order to confirm student outcomes and assist teachers in revising and forward planning their units of work.

Changing Focus

In recent years, there has been a lot more focus on data and formalised recording at system level than was the case in the past. However, in past times, good records were maintained within the vast majority of schools. It is a misnomer to suggest that nothing happened before national testing was introduced

Tests were developed and applied at school level. These days the emphasis is increasingly upon nationalised testing regimes . Results are used in part for comparison of schools within and between States and Territories.

Shortfall

National tests, standardised as they are, fail to recognise the individual and specific backgrounds of students in schools and their catchment areas. While databases have been prepared which examine the socio-economic factors within school communities, these are quite general and don’t take account of specific differences between people. Cultural differences, occupation, income, family educational background, housing affordability and geographic location impact on schools within their communities.

Refocusing education

One of the deleterious effects for schools forever being under the testing and assessment magnifying glass, is that the human side of development can be overlooked. Years ago a group of educators visited a gas bottle refilling business. The guide suggested children were like gas bottles. Empty cylinders were refilled, then sold. Similarly, children started school as “empty vessels” were filled up with knowledge on the way through and graduated from school “full” of understanding, ready to contribute to society.

This was a sad comparison. Children are complex individuals. Their development towards adulthood includes social, emotional and moral/spiritual needs along with literacy, numeracy and other academic outcomes. Over-focus on academic testing and data can detract from these wider developmental needs. The world needs articulate people who are confident communicators, intuitive thinkers and careful decision makers. Academics are part of education but by no means the whole of what should be offered.

What is and what should be

Educators talk about the need for holistic education. However, with funding attaching so critically to educational outcomes which are only academic, the priority naturally turns to literacy and numeracy. The key and often only focus of educators’ meetings is that of literacy and numeracy teaching, strategies and data.

Schools are achieving, but success often goes unacknowledged. Those working within our schools often feel deflated, becoming convinced they are failing in terms of building students toward desirable outcomes.

Education should not be laissez-faire. Neither should it be so data focused, concentrated within one narrow domain, as to overlook the importance of holistic development. Teachers, parents and community should be working in partnership with students, to prepare them for a fulsome entry into life’s world. Education for the whole of life goes well beyond narrow, academic, data confirmed outcomes.

2 thoughts on “MUCH MORE TO EDUCATION THAN DATA (1)

  1. “Shortfall
    National tests, standardised as they are, fail to recognise the individual and specific backgrounds of students in schools and their catchment areas. While databases have been prepared which examine the socio-economic factors within school communities, these are quite general and don’t take account of specific differences between people. Cultural differences, occupation, income, family educational background, housing affordability and geographic location impact on schools within their communities.”

    It does use parental education, occupation (rather than income), school level SEA, % Indigenous, and location (remoteness). It was designed specifically to predict NAPLAN school scores, so it actually does have validity.

    ICSEA (student) = SEA (student) + student Indigenous status + SEA (school cohort)
    + Percent Indigenous student enrolment + Remoteness
    where SEA is the highest school level, highest non-school qualification and occupation of the student’s parents

    http://www.acara.edu.au/verve/_resources/Guide_to_understanding_icsea_values.pdf
    What is the Index of Community Socio-educational Advantage?
    There is a substantial body of research evidence that shows the educational
    performance of students, among many other things, is related to certain
    characteristics of their family and school such as parental education and occupation
    and school characteristics such as location and socio-economic background of the
    students it serves.

  2. I agree fully with this essay. However having been involved in our country’s own data capturing tool, I started with the idea of converting it into a leadership tool.

    Having initiated a project at my previous school of putiin a computer on each teachers desk connected to a network meant that work could now be done from anywhere. The speed at which information can be collected was the key to create a more effective and less stress environment because of the freeing up of time.

    It is now possible to record absenteeism at the start of the day as well per period.

    Discipline issues can be recorded and when required parents could be sms to come in to see the teacher.
    All sporting activities and events and who is involved in them give teachers a quicker evaluation of the child’s involvement in sport as well as his state of mind.

    Manageing resources and Finances and running your library on the same program meant that all data pertaining to parents an the child needed to be enter only once into the system to track the child and his progress.

    Data must be seen as complimentary to Education but must not hold the Educator at ransom. The more people are involved in the en trying and managing of data the more each other can become aware of the role they are play to ease the pressure of each other.

    The Law of Mt Everest states that the more difficult the task and the higher you climate the more import Teamwork becomes.

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