Numbers Don’t Lie (but do they tell the truth?)

Life it is not just a series of calculations and a sum total of statistics, it’s about experience, it’s about participation, it is something more complex and more interesting than what is obvious.
~Daniel Libeskind

Americans love numbers and statistics.  We love to measure, count, categorize, and classify stuff.  Why wouldn’t we have a love affair with numbers?  The quarterback passer rating allows us to bemoan (or extol) the decision to extend a seven year contract to Jay Cutler.  Statistics and data (and word of mouth) help us to determine if the Atkins, Paleo, Weight Watchers, South Beach, Raw Food, Mediterranean, or any other diet is really going to produce the pound shedding results we desire.  We also use data and stats to determine whether our schools are “successful” or not.

Education has entered a new era of accountability which requires us to take a hard look at the academic programs we offer and apply objective measures to determine their success.  I think accountability in education is a good thing.  It is important to know if the programs we deliver are having the desired results and that we are meeting the needs of kids.  Likewise, this academic data allows us to support struggling students and provide differentiated instruction to our students.  However, there is so much more that goes into a great school than just great test scores; it is important to maintain a healthy perspective.

At Highcrest Middle School and Wilmette Junior High we strive to ensure that every child makes a connection with at least one adult.  Likewise, we want every child to participate in extracurricular activities (clubs, athletics, service, art, academic competitions, etc).  We strive to teach kids not only the “three R’s,” but also executive functioning skills that will benefit them long after they leave our schools.  We have a firm belief that schools need to partner with parents, so we offer parent learning opportunities that guide and inform.  We innovate and realize that if kids aren’t learning the way we teach, then we need to teach the way they learn.

None of the items mentioned in the above paragraph can be captured in a standardized test score.  These experience and philosophical beliefs play an important part in what makes our schools great.  Unfortunately, the results of these programs do not get published in the news paper.  I am proud of our teachers and students, and I know that our end-users (students and parents) know the value of these less “measurable” programs and know how wonderful our schools are.  It is also clear that this greatness is happening at schools around the country.  It is important to apply a healthy dose of perspective to any statistic that claims to rate, rank, or classify our schools.  The results of a test will give you valuable information about that school, but that is only part of the story.

Posted in Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Skip to toolbar