New Data Revolution: Running Back to Mommy & Daddy

For a time now, it seems that education has been needing to break away from its dependence on legacy metrics, but instead it runs back to the mommy and daddy of metrics, the math and english language arts end of the year exam scores. Even though we continue to recognize that these scores are flaw metrics that are myopic, inaccurate, and at times harmful to learning, educators continue to return these numbers because of a lack of alternatives. We have to stop running back to mommy and daddy.


As we continue to move into an era with more and more information, we are building landfills of data for schools. It just piles up and piles up. It becomes useless, cumbersome, and smells up the place. All of this information leaves schools without a narrative that truly speaks to their mission and passion for its students. Binders of data sit everywhere, but no actionable information is emerging.


For a long time, we have known that the some of the most important things in learning (deep transfer of knowledge, applying information across context, synthesizing information for fresh understanding, and high levels of authentic solution making) are really hard to measure, but that doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t attempt to do so.


Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with the Kauffman Foundation about work that they are doing to make major data sets available to a larger audience in an actionable way. EdWise (currently using Missouri and Kansas) data sets allows educators, parents, and community members to access data that goes beyond the “mommy and daddy” data that we find in the newspaper once a year.


This desire for actionable data that can generate conversations that can reshape education has been at the core of my interest with the work from BrightBytes as well. There Clarity platform provides schools, district, and state with elegant, research-based information that can transform learning and learning culture in the areas of technology and drop-out prevention.

We are beginning to see an emergence of a next generation of educational data. The key now is to create a tipping point where schools truly break the data chains that bind us, telling mommy and daddy data that it is time for us to seek a new way, and lean into the “sabermetrics” of education at scale, so that all of us can innovate, design, and lead the classrooms, schools, and districts that we want for all kids.