Thursday, December 9, 2010

DIBELs Blues

It's the most wonderful time of the year. That's right everyone, winter DIBELs testing! What? Did you think I was talking about something else?

I actually love data from outside sources--and our DIBELs testing is not done by classroom teachers (progress monitoring is, but not the actual testing). Because, even though I am religious in the collection of my own data, I always wonder, on some level, if it is skewed by my being too close to the project.

Yet, I want my numbers to be what I want them to be, and they never are! This is partially because I was always disappointed if I didn't get 100% or better on exams. Sometimes I want my students to be the student I was, and not every student is good at testing. I am learning to focus on progress instead of flat test scores. It is a healthier perspective all around. But as I focus on progress, I get totally obsessed with the few students who didn't make progress. I can barely notice the students who made a lot of progress because I am obsessed with the ones who didn't.

What I am forgetting in my fruitless quest for perfectionism in an imperfect world, is that my love for data is totally practical. I love concrete data as a director of future instruction far more than I love it as an evaluator of success. In fact, I cower at the thought of the recent law passed stating that 33% to 50% of my evaluation must be directly based on test scores.

What I have to do is look at the numbers I am not happy with as a challenge and not as a failure. I am tempted to just throw my hands up and think that I did enough, and it is crazy that I still have so many strategics and intensives. I know, though, because of these numbers, how to help them better.

I have to teach every single kid well this year or they will not make it through third grade objectives. That is the challenge I have.

So, Crystal Ball of Data, you are reminding me that the hard work is just beginning. You are reminding me that we have a long ways to go. Yet, you remind me also, we've come a long way.

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