12 months ago, you could raise funding for your startup overnight if you were doing "big data" for education (even though the data was quite paltry in size). The future hope of a Diamond-Age like mechanism to have kids worked in flipped classrooms at their ZPD ["zone of proximal development"] all without teachers needing to do anything to differentiate instruction was the holy grail.On the one hand, people habituate: the bad gets normal, as Temple always said. So this may blow over.
6 months ago, the perfect storm of Anti-Common Core backlash, NSA domestic spying, and IRS abuse of 501c4 citizen groups meant Bog Data for Ed was in serious jeopardy.
I first realized this at a talk I was giving at a school that had chosen in May of 2013 to improve their math program: a goal of Singapore Primary Math in K-6, Shoseki in 7, Dolciani in 8, complete with real math training for all teachers and a FT BS math degreed teacher for 6-8. Oh, and state standrads-based standardized tests for the first time ever to measure student progress relative to their peers and state requirements.
The parents were on board in May. I gave the same talk in September, and the climate had changed.
Parents were so anti-data that they wanted no standardized test. Never mind that there was no way to measure student progress without a benchmark.
In order to make some basic determination about where these students were mathematically that first May, MSMI had devised a test based on state sample item. In September, I actually had a parent say to me "I know you took data on my child."
Another parent who stood by as I spoke to a family asking for how I could help their child get a bit of higher content in their math class said "I heard you ask that family for their child's name and grade."
The paranoia was rampant. The push to "opt out" was so great that we were in serious jeopardy of having any way of measuring if we'd done any good, let alone if kids had learn a year's math in a year's time.
Parents no longer trust their schools. This is perhaps the biggest legacy of the politicization of civic institutions. It is earned in many cases, but probably is worse in result than even lousy curricula. It will take a long long time to fix.
On the other, sans habituation almost at the level of mass amnesia, I don't see how this gets fixed.
I remember, very clearly, the moment a few years back when our district was suddenly required to weigh students, record their weights, and report the data to Albany.
I was furious. Chris had always struggled with his weight and was very sensitive about it (he lost 50 pounds last summer and has kept it off since!): it's not as if overweight children don't know they're overweight.
And it's not as if the grown-ups passing these regulations are universally thin themselves.
Needless to say, I protested, as I always do, and, needless to say, the administration and board blew me off, as the administration and board always do. High-school students would be weighed "with sensitivity," they said. And that was that. Everyone seemed to agree that weighing students and reporting the data to Albany was a bad idea, but admin & board follow regulations, good or bad. Except when they don't, of course.
The obstacle to habituation this time, as I see it: Americans believe that American schools are locally run.
Schools haven't been locally run in a very long time; superintendents speak in tongues, and bamboozled boards rubber stamp. The people vote, but the people don't get the schools they vote for.
Until now, though, parents busy with kids and jobs and volunteer work for the PTSA could lead their lives without knowing the schools aren't run by them, or that our overlords in Albany (or, even worse, Washington) don't give two figs for what we think, want, or hope.
With the constant, visible presence of Bill Gates and David Coleman and Arne Duncan and "Albany" and Washington D.C. in our lives, not-knowing has become a great deal more challenging.