Home > Uncategorized > Insidious “Data Dashboards” Replacing Equally Insidious “Letter Grades” in Arizona

Insidious “Data Dashboards” Replacing Equally Insidious “Letter Grades” in Arizona

March 10, 2018

One of Diane Ravitch’s posts yesterday reported on a bill introduced in the Arizona legislature that would replace the single letter grades for schools with “Data Dashboards”. The legislator who introduced the bill did so in the context of ESSA, noting that “…the ESSA Act, recognized there isn’t a need for single, summative, A-F grades anymore.” Diane Ravitch saw it as a win for “the Great Data God“. But I see it as a win for those who want to make schools into a commodity.

“Data Dashboards”— like letter grades for schools— are based on the premise that parent-consumers are able to make an informed choice about where to send their child. “Grading schools” is an essential element of the privatization movement. Giving these kinds of “Consumer Reports” analyses reinforces the notion that schools are a product that can be selected like breakfast cereal or automobile and not an essential public good that should be readily available AND equitably provided for all children. By “giving parents the information they need to make an informed choice” these “tools” are insidiously driving home the point that the marketplace is the ultimate solution to inequity.

And in a footnote paragraph, Christopher Conover, the Arizona Public Media reporter whose story was the trigger for Ms. Ravitch’s post, noted the Representative Quezada, who crafted the bill, “…did try to get the Senate to adopt an amendment adding financial information, especially for charter schools, to the dashboard. That proposal failed on a voice vote.” Parent consumers are entitled to some information about the schools their children can choose from, but taxpayers need to be kept in the dark about the finances. So much for transparency… and democracy.

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