My Elevator Pitch on Data

“Data’ has been the mantra of educators for a generation. Unfortunately, they appear woefully unprepared to manage data in a responsible manner. Here are the things I would tell school leaders, especially those who claim to be “data-driven” if riding in the elevator with them:

  • Blind your data. The analysis must be done by someone who has does not know what the test was or who the students or the teachers were.
  • Pose the question before you look at the data. And “what works?” is not question that can be answered with data. Quantitative data can only answer this question: “Can we reject the hypothesis these groups are the same?”
  • Collect only the data you need. Measuring affects what will be observed in all systems. Too much measuring makes further measurements unreliable.
  • Obtain informed consent. If you don’t know what this is, then you have no business gathering or analyzing data.