The Government Knows Data Collection Undermines Learning

Your kids love to learn and they like school? Not unless the government says they do. Your kid’s personality and ability to learn will be measured by biometric sensors and layers of testing. Since three major federal studies prove that these procedures may be damaging to learning and teaching, why are federal and state governments wasting almost a billion dollars to be complicit in harming the educational process?

Most understand that children are born with a natural desire to acquire knowledge and develop skills because both empower the child and shape his identity. Toddlers meet each tumble with greater determination to try again. Perseverance or grit is needed for success in life. Most kids have it, but educational policies and data collection apparently stomp it out of many.

The U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology created a confusing report.  According to them, closing achievement gaps in schools requires technology to test and measure a child’s grit, tenacity, perseverance, social skills, attitudes, and independent intellectual ability. The same report admits that forcing a child to accomplish goals required by others can damage a student’s long-term retention, conceptual learning, and psychological well-being. Apparently, the feds don’t give a hoot.

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Evidently, teachers will be held accountable for recreating our children in an image approved by the government. If a teacher fails, there will be serious consequences for the school, the teacher, and the student.

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The Educational Technology report also reveals that the best interest of the student is not respected in accountability-driven climates that place extremely high expectations on students. The report admits that, under these circumstances, grit may not always be in the students’ best interest. So why hook up our children to facial expression cameras, posture analysis seats, and wireless skin conductance sensors?

Another study from the U. S. Department of Education finds little evidence that data collection improves instruction or student achievement. The study concedes that effective data use depends on authorities supporting educators who use and interpret the data. The government is expecting integrity in data interpretation when the person interpreting the data may lose her job if the interpretation is negative.

The Race to the Top and Teacher Preparation study claims that data is needed to identify institutions that produce poor teachers, to identify specific poor teachers, and to humiliate them publically into submission.

Dollars from Race to the Top were used by American Progress to recommend public reporting of poor assessment results.  Reform would result if shame or embarrassment were sufficient. The study complains that university teacher-education programs appear immune to the notion of professional shame. One recommended solution is to identify good teachers by collecting data and linking student data to a teacher.

According to American Progress, every state has promised to use student academic achievement to assess teacher-education programs. Why should a college lose credibility if students taught by a graduate of that college should fail to learn?

Why should a college, a teacher, or a student be punished for circumstances that are beyond their control? Educators have no control over the failed federal policies that have been imposed on educational institutions. A child’s value system determined at home is not under a teacher’s control. The fact that personal tragedy limits personal performance is ignored. Depending on the number of traumas experienced, a student may need a full year to catch up. Why should a college, a teacher, or a student be chastised for this human condition?

Our children deserve the best educational experience possible, but the federal government has a history of imposing policies that have been harmful. It is time to hold the federal government responsible for supporting failed programs developed by experts and theorists who have never taught in a typical public-school classroom. Accountability is needed in education, but the data-mining programs are not the form of assessment needed.

The federal government and the state departments of education know that these forms of data collection will cause more harm than good.  When will outraged parents pack school board meetings to present opt-out forms for these types of data collection? When will citizens flood state capitols to demand state autonomy of education? When will parents demand that the government back off and allow parents to make decisions regarding the educational experiences for their children? Who is going to protect children and teachers from punishment by our own government? If these programs are not stopped now, what will the future bring?

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