Educators have always talked about making classroom decisions that are based on data, but is that what we should really be using to make our decisions? Listening to a podcast, I heard David Toddington describe the best way to make decisions for law enforcement. He runs a digital intelligence company and works with law enforcement agencies all over the world. In the interview he discussed the fact that data is just the gathering of a lot of statistics and facts. Mr. Toddington does not believe in making decisions based on data. Instead that data should be gathered and analyzed to produce information. That information should be put together with other relevant information to produce knowledge, and decisions should be based on knowledge.
As I listened to him describe this idea for law enforcement, I realized that teachers should and usually do take the same approach. Data from assessments or other sources is put together in a logical order to gain information. That information plus the information teachers know about their students produces the knowledge needed to effectively teach those students.
This is something many individuals who have never taught before don't understand. In a normal bussiness or factory setting, those in charge take data and create information to make specific decisions that should have a specific outcome. They do not usually have to take that information and apply it to a human being. Each person is different. This is why two students can get the same test score, be given the same intervention, and end up having very different outcomes.
So saying that educators should be data driven in inaccurate, there is so much more to the job of teaching than taking data and applying a solution. Teachers have to take data, create useful information from that data, look at that information in the context of each particular student, then use the knowledge they have about that specific situation to make the best possible decisions.
So lets make it clear to everyone: STUDENTS ARE NOT DATA POINTS, they are people who need a lot more than a one size fits all approach when they are learning.