Data walls send wrong message to students

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March 6, 2015 by realrenewal

by Dr. Marc Spooner, Faculty of Education, University of Regina

Using data walls in schools is counterproductive, as it sends the wrong message to students, teachers and parents about education and learning.

I’m not saying teachers need not assess how students are achieving. However, these assessments need not be posted like hockey scores and stats on the school walls.

From my perspective, showcasing a work, an artifact of learning, a student chooses as something of which she is particularly proud goes much farther to motivate students to own their learning and take pride in their school and classroom. It’s not a race to the top, but a steady path of growth, discovery and belonging.

Most of the research I’ve read suggests things such as data walls at best will document achievement gaps between students, but do nothing to change them. They serve to further push out students already on the margins.

If Saskatchewan truly wants to improve the literacy levels and graduation rates of students, as the Education Sector Strategic Plan indicates, it will be by fostering positive connections to teachers and schools and perhaps, most importantly, by lowering poverty levels. It will not be as a result of gimmicky data walls that really only tell us that kids improved at taking a certain kind of reading test, for instance.

The vast majority of teachers are doing a fantastic job. I trust their professionalism; I don’t need a contrived audit to convince me they are working to further a love of learning and I’m not looking for a system that encourages a race to the top with winners and losers.

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