Renaissance Learning, creator of Accelerated Reader, recently posted an article on their blog, titled No datum left behind: Making good use of every bit of educational data. It was written by Eric Stickney, the Director of Educational Research at Renaissance. Below is my comment, which is awaiting moderation. Where do you stand on this issue? Please leave a comment with your thoughts on this post.
As a principal, I’m interested in how specific activities can help increase student engagement, especially at the intermediate grade levels. Numbers are fine, but they don’t tell me a lot about how motivated students are with their learning. Specifically, what qualitative types of information could be measured regarding engagement? What tools could help assess student dispositions toward learning and student interactions with each other about their reading lives? Accelerated Reader has a very robust system. It could be even better if kids were allowed to interact with each other in this online space. They should be able to not only rate books, but also write reviews, recommend books to others, and share their to-read lists. Think Goodreads for kids.
I’m also troubled that Accelerated Reader still promotes a point system. How many studies need to come out before Renaissance Learning decides to scrap this external motivation tool, something that can actually decrease a student’s motivation to become a lifelong reader who doesn’t need a point system to pick up that next book?
Data is great. Quick comprehension checks can give some information about surface-level understanding. These results can aid a teacher in being more responsive in their instruction. But if student information systems only provide a number, then it fails to encourage further learning for the sake of pursuing knowledge and interests. Some things just aren’t quantifiable. This is something I am looking to investigate.