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All In All, Kids Just Another Brick In the Data Wall 110

theodp writes "If you don't have kids of school age, you may not be aware that Data Walls — typically a low-tech "dashboard" of color-coded sticky notes on a wall bearing the names of pupils to highlight their achievement level, absences, or discipline problems — are apparently quite the rage. This is much to the chagrin of some teachers, including Peter A. Greene, who rails against the walls-of-shame in Up Against the Data Wall. Why stop there, Greene asks, tongue-in-cheek. Why not have data-driven dress codes? Data-driven recess? Pooh-poohing concerns of teachers who think Data Walls are mean but feel pressure to create them, the Supt. of Holyoke Public Schools said, "It's not a mandate whatsoever." Still, he went on to add, "I would say 99 percent of teachers see the benefit of it," which some might take as an implicit mandate. In other student privacy news, New York's Supreme Court has ruled that parental permission is not required to disclose student data to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded inBloom, perhaps paving the way for the Great Data Wall of the U.S."
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All In All, Kids Just Another Brick In the Data Wall

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  • Old concept (Score:4, Informative)

    by murdocj ( 543661 ) on Saturday February 22, 2014 @04:47PM (#46312535)

    When I went to school, exam scores were literally posted on the wall. Everyone's score, there in black & white, with their name next to it. That was how you found out how you did. It wasn't considered a crime against humanity at that time.

  • by Don Davis ( 3512979 ) on Saturday February 22, 2014 @06:01PM (#46312903)
    It is not legal to publicly display students' grades. It's part of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). A teacher could lose his license for sharing a student's grade with others. It seems that 'achievement level' should fall under that as well. This shows a poor understanding of behavior. Those students who might struggle will now be more motivated to act out or fail outright (rather than seem to struggle and fail).
  • by McGruber ( 1417641 ) on Saturday February 22, 2014 @06:04PM (#46312925)

    My partner is an elementary school principal. Her school has a small "data room", only accessed by teachers, in which she has posted "data walls". Her data walls are actually printouts of very large spreadsheets -- each row is a child, and the hundred of columns represent individual concepts that children have to master. For example, one column might represent "being able to add fractions", another might represent "being able to subtract fractions", another might be "being able to correctly conjugate verbs", etc.

    The really cool thing is that these spreadsheets are generated (by software) after the children take computerized tests. Instead of just giving a numeric score, the software will show exactly *which* concepts the child does and does not know.

    You would think teachers would love this technology because it would allow them to focus their instruction time on concepts their students have not mastered. Sadly, that's not the case -- instead, many long-time teachers who had always gotten "good" and "excellent" evaluations are suddenly being shown that they are not actually very good teachers. For example, the software can easily show that *none* of the students in a particular classroom have mastered a particular concept, such as adding fractions. If no student in that particular elementary classroom is able to add fractions, then it is pretty obvious that the teacher in that classroom does not know how to effectively teach adding fractions. Hearing that is pretty threatening to a teacher who has taught the same way for two or three decades.

    Anyway, I posted because what the article calls a "data wall" is not really a data wall.

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Saturday February 22, 2014 @06:50PM (#46313125)
    there's a lot of studies that show that once people develop a negative self image that they tend to take actions that reinforce that self image, often without realizing their doing it. i.e. if a person thinks they're dumb they become unable to do anything smart. This is where the "Precious Little Snowflake" movement came from. You praise kids even if they're not doing very well because if you don't they don't just get discouraged, they quickly come to believe that success is impossible and subconsciously sabotage themselves.

    American Puritanicalism runs counter to this. The idea there is that adversity breeds character. I'm inclined to disagree with this. What I mostly see is adversity wears people down. The problem is that people who've been crushed at best fade away quietly and at worst end up in prison. Either way they're marginalized. The few that survive and prosper are much more visible. The phenomenon's called survival bias.
  • by enderwig ( 261458 ) on Saturday February 22, 2014 @06:59PM (#46313159)
    FWIW, I am a public high school physics teacher who has taught physics to the bottom half and top half of the student population. The school I teach at is majority minority with a population that identifies as Caucasian at around 30% and African-American around 40%.

    Nearly ALL students (and teachers for that matter) would like to see how they rank against others. Nearly all students also want their exact rank to be a secret. Highest grade, lowest grade, highest average or lowest average does not matter. One of the skills I had to learn was how to DISCRETELY pull struggling students aside to give them pep talks and advice on what they could do to improve their grades.

    The struggling kids are shamed even if they publicly tell everyone they are ranked 99 out of 100. Adding another bad grade is just another poke at an open wound. ACTING stupid is okay if everyone thinks you are smarter than you look. No one wants to BE stupid. By being discrete, I've gotten quite a few that would do work for me.

    I've also had to learn when and how to give kudos to the top achievers. For honor students, its a competition. Unless you are in the top 3, there is some shame associated to being "only" 5th. Knowing someone's rank is a little bit like knowing someone's true name in fantasy universes: there is some power in that knowledge.

    Dealing with teenagers is like the super-position principle: it works until it doesn't.
  • Re:Old concept (Score:5, Informative)

    by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Saturday February 22, 2014 @07:30PM (#46313303)

    The evidence for genetic determination of academic performance is very weak. There's probably an effect, but not much of one. Socio-economic status of the parents is the major statistical factor. However, the intra-individual variance is large, showing that anybody can do well or poorly regardless of predisposing factors.

Someone is unenthusiastic about your work.