In this week’s memo to principals, Chancellor Joel Klein offers some tips about the best ways to use the reams of student data the Department of Education is providing. One suggestion that seems slightly out of character (or at least out of caricature): Don’t gather too much data!
The motivating idea seems to be to save both paper and time by replacing binders stuffed with spreadsheets with online reports generated by ARIS, the computer data system that the city relaunched this year.
Here’s Klein’s own words, part of a list that he says the teachers union helped create:
2. Evaluate the information you gather and reduce redundancy in reporting. Consider whether information on student and school performance that is now being made available to your school through ARIS, your Progress Report, Quality Review, Learning Environment Survey, Inquiry Team Tool (ITT), and your Periodic Assessment reports makes it unnecessary for your school to continue gathering information in other, more time-consuming and less effective ways.
In particular, consider whether it is effective to print out and assemble binders of assessment results. In many cases, assessment information is available in ARIS or in other places on the Internet, and can be more easily accessed and analyzed in an online format. And, as you know, you need not create any binders or other documents for the sole purpose of preparing for the Quality Review. Quality Reviewers focus only on data and reports that schools actually use in the regular course of the day and the school year. For example, you can show reviewers how you use the “student groups” function in ARIS to track the progress of groups of your students throughout the year.
The full memo: