by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog
“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” Remember the Dr. Suess book with that name? It’s a book given to many graduates as they enter the world. It’s a book about choices, change, risk and growth a young boy faces as he explores life. Excerpts from a summary of “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” from suite101.com:
Oh The Places You’ll Go describes up times and down times, waiting times and stressful times. Here’s a summary of this popular kids’ book by Dr Seuss.
In the beginning, Dr Seuss writes…
Oh! The Places You’ll Go starts with a boy (sorry girls, it’s one of those times you just have to lump yourselves in with the guys). Anyway, this boy is starting off on his journey to Great Places. He’s “off and away!” He’s got brains and feet, and can go in any direction he chooses. He’s fresh and excited about his latest adventure, and he knows nothing will stop him.
Decisions in Oh! The Places You’ll Go
The boy can choose whether or not to go down certain streets. Dr. Seuss stresses how smart and capable the boy is. And we all are, even us girls (but sometimes we ignore our gut feelings). Oh The Places You’ll Go is about making good decisions.
Read the summary (or the book) and you will understand the boy’s decisions are up to him on how to live his life. He learns to make good decisions. He learns life is a series of ups and downs and how to enjoy the good times and stay strong through the hard times. It’s a coming of age book and the character learns the direction of his life is up to him.
When I read the article Oh, the Data We’ll See and the Places We’ll Go! from Data Quality Campaign (DQC) I was speechless. It is written by a Texas principal, Vera Wehring, about her use of data and how it must be monitored and for what purpose. My first thought was “Dr. Suess must be turning over in his grave”. She borrows Suess’ book title about a character determining his own life’s path and turns it into an exercise of using data to determine a student’s life. The student’s innate abilities, desires and decisions are now funneled into data sets for school success, not the student’s personal success. From the DQC article:
One of the challenges we have faced as a campus is in not meeting some of the rising accountability standards. Each time scores have been below standards, it has been by just a few students, and students from different subpopulations within our school. Thus we learned that we must look at individual student progress and individual student needs, and then individualize student interventions. To do so, we access student testing trends, projections of future success, and suggested interventions based on student profile. This particular data source helps us identify teachers’ value-added performance, identify students in target groups, and drill down to student detail. These data are used alongside traditional classroom assessments, campus and district assessments, and any other information that may be gleaned about individual students so that all students are monitored to ensure they are reaching their potential and achieving at appropriate academic levels. Progress is monitored by students themselves, classroom teachers, the campus leadership team, and the entire faculty.
Over the last several years, we have established processes and procedures to make data collection, analysis, reflection, and action an ongoing and embedded expectation. We do not claim to be perfect, nor do we claim to have found a panacea for all achievement ills. We do continue to refine and adjust our processes as data points change, teacher and leader capacity grows, and student needs alter.
The responsibility in Suess’ world depends on the individual to determine his destiny. DQC and data driven educators believe the responsibility to determine students’ destinies rely on their services based on student data. Read the entire article and you can understand how swamped these educators are with data driven mandates and how to manage the data requirements:
On a daily basis, principals are bombarded with a myriad of data points. It is easy to take a cursory glance at the piles of data, become overwhelmed, and move on to the next item on our to-do lists. It is also tempting to become bogged down in the data and spend hours on end sorting, analyzing, and then failing to act on them. The most effective leaders prioritize data, analyze them, and use them to make data-informed school improvement decisions.
What this data mining accomplishes is for school improvement benchmarks. Wehring mentions student individualization, but this individualization is based on standards imposed by data sets. How is “projection of student success” measured? If a child doesn’t show “promise” by a certain age? If a child is an auditory learner and material is taught visually, is that child not a projected “success”? What this principal doesn’t seem to understand is that “the places you’ll go” isn’t about DQC or her data. It’s about taking life by the “hoo-has” and living life to its fullest:
My cousin, Todd Parker, however, has definitely lived up to Dr. Seuss’ philosophy of life. He is a 2003 graduate of Petal High School. He was awarded the Presidential Scholarship from the University of Southern Mississippi and was dedicated to his education.
While in school he worked part time at Purple Parrot where he developed the skill and love for cooking. Against his parents’ advice and the advice of many others, he decided to forfeit his scholarship and head for New York City in pursuit of becoming a chef. That decision took a great deal of courage.
My cousin enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in 2006 in New York City, and the art of cooking became his passion. He completed an eighteen week internship in New Orleans and graduated from the Culinary Institute in 2008.
After graduation he returned to New Orleans and worked for approximately two years when he was asked to move to Germany to expand his education under some of the most world-renowned chefs. So, do you think he jumped on the opportunity? You bet your grits he did.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!