Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” Albert Einstein

I greatly admire Alfie Kohn.  I have read him since the eighties; I have only heard him speak once, over a decade ago, but it was unforgettable.   I am grateful for his piece in a recent edweek, “Turning Children into Data: A Skeptic’s Guide to Assessment Programs.”

And yet, I wish for more.  The quote Kohn provides from Einstein atop his piece (provided atop my piece) doesn’t call for ignoring all data; it declares that there is indeed data that does and should count, but that we need to be choosy and skeptical about what data we use and how we use it.   Unlike Einstein’s quote, in Kohn’s piece there is not a single thing which he suggests should count; it only about what we shouldn’t count.  As a result, it strikes me he has misappropriated Einstein for his purpose.

As regular readers here know, I think we need to be serious about setting our goals as an educational institution, and then identify what we  things we should count to measure our progress, hold ourselves accountable for success, and most importantly, guide our continuous improvement.   I think too that what we choose to measure sends signals, to teachers, to parents, and to students, about what is most important, and we should be intentional about the signals we send.   (more…)

I’m delighted and excited to have been invited recently as a panelist at September’s annual US DoE’s  Office of Non-Public Education-Office of Improvement and Innovation’s Private School Leadership Conference (that is a mouthful).  I’ve been invited to present on the topic of “aligning data collection with school mission.”

Regular readers here know I have long used this forum to advocate for the College and Work Readiness Assessment (CWRA) and the High School Survey of Student Engagement (HSSSE); speaking at this event to an audience of influential private school educators and association executives will give me a great opportunity to carry forward my advocacy.

It is also a chance to think more, more thoroughly, more deeply about the panel’s helpful title and framing. I hadn’t myself focussed squarely enough until now  upon the simple but elegant and critically important concept of “aligning data collection with school mission,” but that is of course exactly what I am circling around and trying to get more fully in focus.  I will be developing my remarks and presentation over the next few weeks, and I will certainly share/post it here, but here is a first stab at summarizing my thesis:

Most of us who are leading in private and independent education place high priority, in our educational missions and throughout our school cultures, upon three core goals:

  • upon delivering and achieving personalized and differentiated teaching and learning which has a significant and positive impact improving the educational progress of individual learners of a wide range of abilities, maintaining a focus upon the individual and not the mass of learners;
  • upon forging and sustaining a connected community of engaged, active, intrinsically motivated, extracurricularly involved, technologically employing, hard-working learners; (more…)