Drop Dead, Data Drops

When you have three data drops a semester, the term is always ending. Data drops are always painful without fail because of the sheer amount of work they require. At the end of each section, we need to enter the students’ daily grades and section test scores into the school system.

Grading the tests takes the equivalent of a full workday. Then, entering all the grades into the school’s system takes another hour or so. This is all done while teaching a normal load, meaning the time is split over the course of the week and or the work is taken home. All the teachers become stressed during this time, and often fight through small colds that crop up from overwork. And then, just as teachers are recovering and getting into the swing of things again, they need to prepare for the next data drop, because the term is always ending.

However, this is arguably not the biggest problem. I would argue that the primary problem is that it takes away from student learning. As the grading sections are all less than two months, we design the rhythms of the curriculum around the testing schedule instead of designing around the content. Also, with such short grading terms, student grades suffer. If they did not understand the content in one or two weeks, they do not have enough time to improve their grade, because the term is always ending.

Another negative to this is that the testing schedule discourages good teaching practice. Teachers are unable to stretch students with various research and application projects because by the time the content has been covered and students are prepared to apply/research on their own, they need to prepare for the next test because the term is always ending.

I firmly believe that fewer data drops will lead to more useful data, happier teachers, and better-educated students. However, it takes time to change a system. But, I can’t simply sit by and quietly go about my work because it’s not helpful for my students. I need to work to change my school’s system for me and my students’ good. I want the data drops to drop dead, not me.

The Plan

  1. Talk with other teachers
  2. Talk with the headteacher
  3. Organize a plan (including research)
  4. Talk with administration (Principal & Dean)
    • Get their rationale for the current system
    • Communicate teacher concerns
    • Propose alternate plan
  5. Hope for the best
    • Work to continue the dialogue