Saturday, February 18, 2017

All that Data

“It is a capital mistake to theorise before you have all data.” Sherlock Holmes “An Adventure in Scandal” (Doyle, 2013).

Sherlock Holmes is the epitome of using data. He looks at seemingly random pieces of a puzzle, analyzes what he has gathered, and then draws a conclusion based on his perception of the data. Everyone is impressed with the conclusion. His data is qualitative not quantitative, which makes his conclusions even more amazing.

Teachers have had to become more like Sherlock Holmes. We are expected to take pieces of data, some of it is seemingly random, analyze it, and then draw conclusions about students. Most of our data is qualitative, just like Sherlock Holmes’s data. The difference is that we teachers have a lot more data about a lot more people (students, not murder victims) and are expected to take this qualitative data and squash it into quantitative results. This is really hard because. , it is really difficult to implement the use of student data in a systematic way. It is also very difficult to implement data when there are so many directions that the data can be used.  “How [data is]  used depends on a variety of factors in each school and in each teacher’s classroom. Some teachers are embracing student data to inform their teaching, while others believe there’s a risk of an over-reliance on hard numbers that doesn’t take into account the human factor.” (  

Now I am not saying that we should not be collecting and analyzing data about student performance. This is very important. However, I feel that people outside of the classroom  are trying to make teaching strictly a science instead of  appreciating the art that is involved. When people are reduced to numbers, then individuality is lost. Any great teacher knows why Johnny can't read - the test just shows that he can't - the teacher knows about Johnny and his situation, which does not fit into quantitative result sheet.

We need to find a balance. According to Ronald S. Thomas “We don’t need ‘data driven’ schools. We desperately need ‘knowledge driven’ schools.” (2016).  We teachers need figure out how to use the data to create knowledge driven schools in which all students can succeed.  To do this we need teacher leaders to help find the balance between the student on the spreadsheet and the student in the classroom.  

We obviously can't throw out all data and go back to teacher intuition. That makes no sense. On the other hand, we can't spend all of our time consumed in making children into neat numbers that fit into spreadsheets. Somewhere in the middle is where we need to be - the knowledge driven program. I believe that even Sherlock Holmes would agree with that deduction.

By. "Is All This Student Data Changing the Way Teachers Teach?" MindShift. KQED News, 2
June 2014. Web. 12 Feb. 2017.

Doyle, Arthur Conan, and Daniel Stashower. The Complete Sherlock Holmes. New York, NY:
Race Point, 2013. Print.

Morrison, Jennifer. "Why Teachers Must Be Data Experts." Educational Leadership:Data: Now
What?:Why Teachers Must Be Data Experts. Ascd, Dec.-Jan. 2009-10. Web. 12 Feb. 2017.<>.

Thomas, Ronald S. "My Nine 'Truths' of Data Analysis." Education Week. N.p., 06 Oct. 2016.

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