One of the key frustrations of 21st century educators is the constant demand for data. The curriculum coordinator wants data, the superintendent wants data, the school board wants data, the state wants data, and the federal DOE wants data. Teachers are entering data into electronic grade books. Attendance clerks, secretaries, counselors, nurses, and administrators are entering data into student information systems. Special educators are entering data into online IEP systems, librarians are entering data into library management systems, the transportation office is entering data into routing and planning and incident management systems, and food service workers are entering data into point-of-sale and school nutrition systems! The unfortunate reality of education today is that in most cases, data is everywhere and information is nowhere.
For the past seven years I’ve been travelling the country, talking to educators at every level, in big districts and small districts, from Laredo to Juneau, from Savannah to Monterey. I’ve heard the same frustration, and in some cases despair, at the unending demand for data, and the inability to successfully leverage data to enact meaningful change. In these posts, I hope to share some of these stories, with identities redacted to protect the innocent, of course. I’ll share some of the frustrations, demands, desires, and success stories I’ve witnessed. The need for data will not diminish in the future, but there is the possibility that data collection, which can feel like a necessary evil, can evolve into the greater good of informed decision-making.