Monday, February 17, 2014

Massachusetts Teachers Aim To Knock Down Student Shaming "Data Walls"

By Sarah Jaffe, in In These Times, February 14, 2014
Massachusetts Teachers Aim To Knock Down "Data Walls" 
Last year, K-12 teachers in the Holyoke, Massachusetts school district were told to try a new tactic to improve test scores: posting “data walls” in their classrooms. The walls list students by name and rank them by their scores on standardized tests. This, they say administrators told them, would motivate children to try harder on those tests.

Teachers did so, many unwillingly. Agustin Morales, an English teacher at Maurice A. Donahue Elementary School in Holyoke felt pressure to comply, but finds the data walls cruel. One of his top students did poorly on a standardized test in November and found her name at the bottom of the data wall. Afterward, in a writing assignment for class, she “wrote about how sad she was, how depressed she was because she'd scored negatively on it. She felt stupid.”

“So why do I hate data walls?” he continued. “Because of how she felt that day. She felt worthless. She felt like she wasn't as good as other people.”
Teachers are mobilizing: as part of their activism work, the Educators for a Democratic Union, a caucus in the Massachusetts Teachers Association, is working against the data walls and other corporate-backed "reforms."

 And parents are mobilizing with teachers: For example, in Holyoke they decried them as "public humiliation of children."

Read the rest of Jaffe's article at 

The Daily Caller yesterday dubbed a person promoting the data walls, used with students in elementary, middle and high school grades, as "psychopathologically cruel," while others in the DC's story refer to these walls as demoralizing and shaming.