"The question is how we use the data...diagnostically, supportively or punitively."
Proficiency versus Growth
It seems and feels like our current education reality is hyper focused on students as numbers. What number of kids are proficient? We break it apart by boys vs. girls, ethnicity, and whether they are designated as free and reduced for lunch. Once again we are magnifying numbers over students as human beings.
Take for example the third grade retention law in Iowa. Kids must be proficient in reading by third grade or face potentially getting retained. We essentially dehumanize our students to the likeness of a number. Let's disregard all their unique characteristics, values, and ebbs/flows they have experienced. You didn't get breakfast this morning? Your parents got in a fight last night? Someone made fun of you at recess? You don't feel well today? You didn't get invited to eat with some friends at lunch? You have moved to three different schools this year? You are scared of what your peers will think of your new haircut? WHO CARES! You should still be proficient.
This was the same M-O for my college football experience. We had defined proficiency for a punter. However, this "label" was not the driver nor limiter. We focused on growth. How could we get better each week? Each season? Growth was the driver. Proficiency was nice to have, but growth was the driver. It was understood that it might be messy and not a linear process. The conversations weren't about lack of proficiency. Instead, they focused on how much growth each player made, whether giant leaps or small steps.
As Rick mentioned in the podcast, its about "how we use the data." I am not saying proficiency doesn't have a place. However, I wonder if it is the limiter and catalyst for mediocrity. If we define kids as being proficient or not, are we limiting their growth? If I reach proficiency and that is all that is valued, then what is going to drive me to grow? This seems to make proficiency punitive compared to diagnostic or supportive.
I think it is time we stop labeling kids as numbers and start valuing them as human beings. Let their stories shine. There were so many variables that impacted my punting at a proficient level. The same is true for kids. We need to embrace their diverse journeys to and through education. Standardizing proficiency without any consideration to students as human beings is a disservice. It's time to empower kids through a growth mindset and strive to push growth over proficiency.
They are more than just a number!