Barry Salzberg and J. B. Schramm from College Summit, a nonprofit that partners with high schools to build college-going cultures, write in Forbes about the value of providing information to high schools on how their graduates actually fare in college:
Charles Thomas, the principal of Crossland High School, in Prince George’s County, Md., lifted his school’s performance from among the county’s worst to among its best in just six years. His success has been heralded in the Harvard Business Review and on the U.S. Department of Education’s “What Works” website. But even he admits that without data, he has to rely on the occasional fortuitous anecdote.
“One day a mother of one of our star graduates said her daughter was struggling with college math,” Thomas told us. “We revamped our whole curriculum based on what she said. If she hadn’t happened to call, we’d have kept on doing the same, apparently inadequate things. And we’re considered to be one of the better schools.”…
Over the past 10 years, when America struggled through the passage and implementation of “No Child Left Behind,” data collection and testing put many teachers on the defensive. They have seen data as a club over their heads, not a tool in their hands. …
Cathy Tooley, a principal at Decatur Central High School, in Indiana, who participated in a joint project with College Summit and Deloitte to help school districts gather and deploy postsecondary data, said, “We always had our eye on the students who are now on our data watch. But we were never so deliberate. Having this data has allowed us to see trends and to monitor and adjust what we’re doing. For the first time, we can actually see what is working, what isn’t working, and how to adjust accordingly.”
I’m a huge fan of this work. Done well, with a focus on providing useful information back to teachers, we can help educators understand what actions high schools can take to improve post-secondary success. And, importantly, since research shows college success is related to not only academic, but non-academic factors, it can help broaden our focus beyond a sole reliance on AYP or high school exit exams to assess high school performance.
Diane Ravitch, on the other hand, not so much. Here’s her review on Twitter:
Businessmen telling educators what to do: data! Yuck. http://tinyurl.com/5vbxoan Who needs these guys?