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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Big Little Thing #2: Marry the Percentages till Death do you part



When schools (or businesses) brag about percentage increases, I always think:
"You'll regret the day you take this course of action."

For example, Flat Classroom projects have sustained a 300% growth rate of project participants for the past few years but we stopped counting. Why? It just isn't sustainable. In the first year we had 23 students, then over 100, now over 3000 a semester just six years later.

The larger question should remain: are students learning? Are we helping teachers transform and improve their practice? The focus isn't the numbers for us. Children aren't numbers. Teachers aren't either. If we work passionately hard to help every child and classroom connect effectively then, IF THE TEACHER is willing to put in the effort, then we will accomplish something.

When you start talking about percentage increases, you'll reach a brick wall at some point and you'll kick yourself, especially when dealing with test scores which have a natural ceiling.

Additionally, if you look at how testing companies make their money, they make more money when kids have lower test scores because then their "official preparatory" content is needed. By nature, not everyone can be at the 100th percentile but they also know that educators and parents won't be happy until 100% of the kids are at the 100th percentile.

Percentages are the devil.

Big Little Thing #1: The student bathroom

Photo credit: Big Stock
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