Teachers Crunching Numbers
Whatever you may think of NCLB and its focus on test scores, Milwaukee schools can’t seem to get enough of data assessment. And teachers are increasingly the number crunchers, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Gone are the days when teachers were expected just to instruct. More and more are being asked to assess and collect data from student learning in order to target intervention. “It’s a much more systematized and scientific approach [to teaching],” according to Superintendent George Zimmer of Milwaukee's neighboring Richmond School District.
Data-driven decision making, as it is called, is driving school districts, like Milwaukee and neighboring communities, to use additional standardized testing to assess student learning. Since last year, the city’s public schools have used a customized testing program four times a year to assess student performance. The test, which was originally intended for the city’s lowest-performing schools, is now being used more widely by collaborative teaching teams, which include teachers, administrators, and counselors. Together they assess learning difficulties, target intervention, and chart the success of students.
University of Wisconsin-Madison education professor, Rich Halverson, sees a trend. “There’s a shift in what counts as a good teacher," he says, "The ability to collaborate, the ability to take information about student learning…that’s at a premium now.”