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Tennessee's education data impressive but unshared

Ohanian Comment: We should stop saying that things funded by the likes of the Gates Foundation are "privately funded." They are funded by philanthropic vultures who get tax writeoffs for their "contributions." So our tax money is being spent with any citizen representation.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the founding funder of the Data Quality Campaign. Additional support has come from the Casey Family Programs, the Lumina Foundation for Education, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Here are the Managing Partners:

Achieve, Inc - http://www.achieve.org

Alliance for Excellent Education - http://www.all4ed.org

Council of Chief State School Officers - http://www.ccsso.org

Education Commission of the States - http://www.ecs.org

Education Trust - http://www.edtrust.org

National Association of State Boards of Education - http://www.nasbe.org

National Association of System Heads - http://www.nashonline.org

National Center for Educational Achievement - http://www.nc4ea.org

National Center for Higher Education Management Systems - http://www.nchems.org

National Conference of State Legislatures - http://www.ncsl.org

National Governors Association Center for Best Practices - http://www.nga.org/center

Schools Interoperability Framework Association - http://www.sifinfo.org

State Educational Technology Directors Association - http://www.setda.org

State Higher Education Executive Officers - http://www.sheeo.org

You can find the Endorsing Partners here

Memphis City Schools is testing real-time feedback using a coach in the back of the classroom who gives a teacher feedback through ear buds via a walkie-talkie attached at the waist.

Reader Comment: Walkie-talkies to direct a teacher while in the classroom? Seriously? In classes I've taught, I can look in the eyes of my students and know what works and what doesn't.

Reader Comment: Seriously! Seriously?

Abandon ship!

Please understand this stuff is coming right out of Race to the Top and The Gates Grant. These programs that have poured so much money into education are not spending the money on teaching children. They are buying headsets, video cameras, iPads, data servers, and various other gadgets and gizmos along with paying consultants exorbitant fees to tell them how to do it.

by Jane Roberts

Tennessee leads the nation with a wealth of data on student test scores but without ways to share it with parents or colleges, the advantage is essentially lost.

Nationwide, the story is similar, according to the privately funded [sic] Data Quality Campaign. On Wednesday, it shared its sixth annual survey of how individual states collect and share data.

While 24 states, including Tennessee, meet the campaign's criteria for data collection, no state shares the data unilaterally with educators in other spheres.

Sixteen states cannot link student and teacher data, making it difficult to reward effective teaching.

And 14 states do not collect data on course enrollment. Without this data, states cannot monitor the effect of policies that require more Advanced Placement or honors-level courses.

"What we have seen this year and every previous is unprecedented growth in collecting longitudinal data," said DQC executive director Aimee Guidera. "But we are not taking action to make sure it is used."

For instance, while a growing number of states can tie achievement to individual teachers, only two -- Louisiana and Florida -- share the data with colleges that train teachers.

"Without sharing, the institutions can't get better," said Elizabeth Laird, director of DQC communications.

In the same vein, Tennessee colleges collect data on how many students need remedial classes and where those students went to high school but they do not share it with the high schools, Laird said.

J.E. Stone, founder of Education Consumers Foundation in Arlington, Va., calls it a symptom of education's "speak no evil" culture.

"Tracking data back to specific high schools would be tremendously helpful, gosh, yes," he said.

The DQC, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private foundations, was formed six years ago to promote policy change by improving data.

President Barack Obama included $100 million in his budget proposal Monday -- a 42 percent increase over last year -- to help states improve data in student learning.

Historically, schools collected data to comply with state and federal laws. Moving from seeing data as a "hammer instead of a flashlight," Guidera said, is central to preparing citizens for the knowledge culture.

"We know we have the data in this country," she said. "There are no excuses."

Tennessee is one of 20 states that have made progress on five of 10 goals, including creating progress reports based on student data to improve their performance.

Tennessee received $500 million in federal Race to the Top funds partly based on its data-collection system, including its value-added data that show how an individual teacher affected the trajectory of a student's progress.

That data, the Tennessee Value Added Assessment System, is available to teachers and principals to help improve instruction. As of last year, parents may have access to it, said David Mansouri, communications director for Tennessee SCORE.

"Because student achievement data will now be a part of teacher evaluations, folks are paying much more attention to this data," he said.

Tying data to human capital decisions is "a first very crucial step," in using data "for action."

The next step, he said, will be using data to improve teachers' professional development.

Memphis City Schools is testing real-time feedback using a coach in the back of the classroom who gives a teacher feedback through ear buds via a walkie-talkie attached at the waist.

"So far, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive," said Monica Jordan, professional development coordinator.

— Jane Roberts
Commercial Appeal


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