Data and More Data

In the dispute over the revision of NCLB the argument has been made –sometimes by civil rights advocates–that if we don’t test annually we won’t be able to compare. But, what use are such comparison? Let us look at other areas where we do such comparison’s.


Has our knowledge about the increasing differences in income led to actions to close that gap? Hmm, seems the rich are still getting richer, while the poor get poorer.  Is evidence that we spend more money on the education of those at the top than we do on those at the bottom changed how we allocate educational resources? Is health care data that demonstrates that the poor are less well served than the rich changed health care, his it created more general or family practitioners serving poor neighborhoods, for example? Not at all.

What is the “evidence” that more testing, and more comparing of data on the basis of race, class or language will do for schooling what it has not done for other institutional decisions? When it comes to how we spend our resources, data has had remarkably little impact—at least since we ended the short-lived and underfunded “war on poverty.” The data sometimes even confirms racism: “See, ‘they’ just aren’t….smart, hard working, biologically fit.”

In fact, we are spending more money on confirming the data year after year than we do on changing the circumstances that lead to the data.

One Response

  1. Deb, in general I am suspicious of simple slogans and bumper sticker type thinking, But I have always enjoyed the analogy for all the testing of students to being like a farmer trying to fatten chickens up by weighing them!

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