24 August 2006

Unhip Data

I've been staring at the district science data for awhile this afternoon. This is the fourth year. By now I'd hoped to see some sort of trend, even if it was just holding steady. But it's just not there. The Inquiry strand at Grade 10, for example, is 40.1, 42.1, 40.3, 42.1 since 2003. When you look at the individual school data, it's even fuzzier: so not trendy.

I can't help but do some in-depth pondering of the data from the school I taught at over the last 10 years. Longtime fans of this blog know I've had a major tug-of-war this year about what the targets should be for kids. My view is that they should be what the state tells us are our foci; many at the school believe that they should get to decide what to teach. The data this year show that only 25.1% of the students met the standard in the content area of science---by far the lowest score in the district. Will teachers be ready to help kids learn what they need to know this year...finally? Maybe the data will make a difference. Meanwhile, this same school had the greatest growth of anyone in the area of Inquiry: up 11 points to 47%. Scores in the other process strand are also up a bit. So, teachers have kids who are able to skillfully think about how to do science...it's just not meaningully tied to content.

Really, the ups and downs of the data and general lack of trends just means that not a lot is changing (especially at the high school level) in terms of making high quality instruction a priority for all students. It's very frustrating. It's looking like the junior highs might be on the right path, but high school teachers are going to have take more responsibility for their part in things. Should be quite the challenge for me this year to get that point across.

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