Student vs. Teacher data: I recently had a frustrating meeting about this subject with someone who should know better (a big district C & I director). Parroting E. Don Brown (which is always a good idea), “We have beat student data to death. Let it go.” I’ll paraphrase the meeting1. An aligned curriculum should have short-term common formative assessments and a summative assessments. So far so good, we’re on the same page.2. No class (excluding severe need special education) gets to opt out of any of the assessments.Now they’re concerned. “Aren’t we limiting our really smart students by making them take dumbed down pedestrian tests?” No, and now I’m concerned.3. The short-term common assessments are not used to identify which students need remediation. They are used to identify which instructional strategies work best with our students and which teachers are implementing those strategies.Now I’ve lost them. “Are you saying we shouldn’t tutor?” No, I’m saying that it is no longer an option to continue to teach ineffectively.4. The annual summative test (TAKS / STAAR in Texas) is a program review. Did we effectively teach what we were supposed to teach, or not. We use results to identify the big holes in our curriculum and our delivery; then we change and revise our practice to fill those holes in the subsequent year.Now they smile. “We do that, we schedule our TAKS failures into TAKS remediation or double block content classes for the next school year.” Now I frown. “That’s not what I said.”

Assessment identifies whether or not our practice is effective. Student performance is merely the consequence of our action. To continue to focus on student interventions is to focus on the symptom and not the cause. Treating the symptom does provide some immediate, short-term relief. Treat the cause and at some point the symptom disappears. Shift the focus of data from students to adults and we quickly transform from being the victims of fate (those kids, those parents, etc.) to the masters of our destinies (our work, our knowledge, or expertise). Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn… Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on! Follow Sean Cain and LYS on