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I had an interesting conversation with a K-5 Spanish teacher in a mountain school district about testing and data collection. I know that data-driven instruction and decision making are the rage these days and have openly wondered about its impact on kids. After the conversation today, I question it even more.

In our school this year students test three times before CSAPs are administered. The tests they take predict their CSAP scores. I have a feeling that students are going to feel “tested out” and may not perform well on the state test. My friend said that she overhears students talking about their own test levels: “I’m at level H. Are you still at level F?” Students are stressed over their levels, teachers are frantic about their students’ levels (i.e. data) and it is even seeping into the community. Over Christmas one teacher advised a parent to work on their child’s timed reading. My friend overhears teachers shouting, “You have two more minutes to get everything out and on paper!” When in life are we timed how fast we read? It is taking me a month to get through My Life in France. What is the penalty if I don’t finish fast enough? Where is the love of learning? What are we fostering in our kids? Hurry! Race! Compete with each other to get to the highest level (the top?) as fast you can! Go! Go! Go!

One of my favorite professors used to deride The Little Engine that Could citing that it fosters workaholism. I wonder what she would make of the data push going on today.