Monday, June 10, 2013

I am a number, but that doesn't tell the story

I'm a number.

I have an age - 56.

I have a weight - 212.4. That's still high but down from what it was last summer. (It will be down later this summer. Check back for updates.)

I have a waist - 34. At least I tell myself that it's 34. I'd like it to be a 32 but right now it is probably more like a 36.

I have a height - 6'1".

I have a blood pressure - 110/60.

I have a pulse rate - 65 while resting.

I had an ACT test score - 28 - although I am a little unsure how long that is really good for.

I have a shoe size - 11. Although with some shoes I need a half size bigger and with others I need a half size smaller. Don't ask me why - I can't explain it.

There is a number for almost any part of me.

One might argue that I could be defined by my numbers. They, in theory, tell you how healthy I am, how fast I am, how smart I am.

These days there are people who want to use numbers to define our schools. Match a test score with a teacher and whiz-bang you have a number that will tell you if that teacher is doing a good job.

I happen to believe that numbers are a good thing.

But I think numbers are being asked to do things that they cannot do.

Numbers can give you information but they can't give you answers.

People give answers. People figure things out.

So while we have a lot of numbers with schools what we are missing are answers.

Numbers can't define schools anymore than numbers can define me.

Numbers can describe me. They can identify very specific parts of me. But numbers don't tell the whole story.

Numbers can't tell you about why I laugh or smile.

Numbers can't tell you what I care passionately about or what I love to read.

Numbers can't tell you why I love baseball or why I am so bad at golf.

But numbers are easy to find.

So sometimes we invest numbers with magical powers that they do not have.

Numbers give information but people give answers.

So in my school district we are forced to use numbers to evaluate teachers. And we will.

But we will also ask teachers what they know about the numbers. What do the numbers say?

I am not looking for numbers to give me an answer.

I am looking for a teacher, a principal, a person to give me an answer.

The numbers might be able to tell me what a student scored. A teacher will be able to tell me what it means. A principal will be able to help me understand.

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