U.S. schools should not be using data to make decisions about curricula, a study suggests.
Data-driven curricula are based on standardized tests and other assessments, according to a new report by a national advocacy group that advocates for student and family wellbeing.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is a government-funded test for students that measures reading and math skills.
It has been used for years by educators across the country.
But the report, from the Partnership for a New American Education, also said that using tests for curriculum could lead to students’ being more academically unprepared.
Data used in NAEP tests has been criticized as being based on a single-question exam that does not allow students to engage with other students’ thoughts and feelings, said Daniel R. Greenstein, director of education at the Partnership.
The test has been adopted by nearly every state and some that use it have not implemented data-based learning plans, the report found.
The NAEP test has also been linked to “systemic racism,” the report said.
The study, released Monday, comes on the heels of an Associated Press investigation that found a significant spike in test scores for black students.
It also found a dramatic increase in test score gaps between students of different races.
The AP said the new report was based on data from the National Center for Education Statistics, which is part of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
The new study is the latest in a growing body of research that suggests data-guided learning is damaging for students, said Matthew J. Stearns, the executive director of the Partnership, a nonpartisan advocacy group.
“There is an overwhelming body of evidence showing that when you use data, you get more data, and that leads to more data,” he said.
A study from the Pew Research Center last year found that the majority of teachers believe that teaching students to think critically, organize information and act with empathy has the potential to improve student learning.
The Partnership also cited a recent report from the Center for the Study of Student Achievement that found the more students are exposed to data-centric curricula the more likely they are to feel academically prepared.
The report found that more than a third of teachers in high schools reported they were teaching students “to think critically” and “to organize information” in the classroom, while a quarter of teachers reported that students were doing this in their daily work.
The national data-focused curriculum is one of the few efforts to address the problem of high school students who are “underachieving academically” in their studies, according a 2012 study by the National Research Council.
Many high school educators are concerned about the impact that data-intensive learning has on students and parents.
The U.K.-based Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said the report showed how many students feel like they are being punished for failing the test.
“It’s hard for them to understand that their teachers have told them this is what they need to do to succeed academically, and they have not been able to get that feedback,” said Kate Williams, president of ASCL, in a statement.
The association also said the study showed that students who do not have the tools to think about the data they are studying are more likely to have problems in class.
“Data-based curricula reinforce the negative expectations that are so pervasive in the education system, and it makes the learning experience worse,” Williams said.
Teachers are required to use standardized tests to track students’ performance.
But many teachers also say they have been asked to use other measures of student performance, such as reading, math and science.
In 2016, the American Academy of Education published a report that said schools should only use data-informed assessments that allow students time to engage in the real world, rather than just testing.
But it also said teachers should also give students time and space to reflect on the content and reasoning behind their answers.