Gibbons October Newsletter
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“All the statistics in the world can't measure the warmth of a smile.” -Chris Hart
Last week the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released the 2019 Next Generation MCAS results (http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/mcas/achievement_level.aspx?linkid=32&orgcode=02850000&orgtypecode=5&). As a school leader and former math teacher, I have great interest in these statistics. The data can be sorted by many factors such as demographics, socio-economic status, and participation rates. School districts are able to earn “extra credit” points based on their progress toward meeting student improvement targets. Notably, in 2019, Stoughton was recognized as a district that made “substantial progress” toward our targets.
At the Gibbons School, we are beginning to analyze our own Next Generation MCAS results. Over the next few weeks a Data Action Plan will be developed with input from our district-wide leadership team, teachers, and other interested parties. MCAS data, along with internal measures of progress such as Aimsweb and the Next Generation Reading Assessment, will be used to develop specific interventions to make the Gibbons a better place for all students. This information makes a strong case for programs such as the before and after school enrichment and remedial programs which are designed to meet the needs of our diverse group of learners. As a result, the Stoughton Public School District has made significant investments in programs such as these and additionally offers a school vacation Humanities camp and a summer STEM camp.
Analytics have creeped into our lives in many ways. Google and Facebook are algorithms designed to track interests, financial habits, and social connections. Professional sports teams have entire departments dedicated to measuring anything that may give them a competitive advantage. Teams study when the best time of day is for their players to take a nap (early afternoon for about one hour). You can’t watch a sports telecast without being inundated with third down completion rates or win probability.
With all the data available for us to use to guide our school and our programs, it is equally important to remember some of the most meaningful aspects of education cannot be quantified. Albert Einstein once said, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” Looking at my own class photo in the Gibbons School hallway makes me wonder how the impact of a teacher can be measured. How do you account for friendships made? How do you measure compassion or the size of someone’s heart? What type of tool can be used to analyze kindness or empathy? How do you measure the courage of a student coming to school who cannot speak English? Our goal at the Gibbons is to make sure each of our students receive the knowledge and guidance they need to succeed in all aspects of their lives.