I often hear from teachers who tell me how the professional conversations within their schools have changed. They no longer discuss instructional improvements in their staff meetings; they no longer review opportunities for professional development related to classroom practice. They talk data. They hear from data experts. They strategize about how to get the numbers up. They drill down into the data. They focus on the kids who are a 2 on the state tests and ignore the 1s and the 3s and 4s. Data drive their conversation, their practice, their life. Data determine whether they will have a job next year. Data determine whether their school will live or die.

This state of affairs is the direct result of NCLB and Race to the Top. Miss your targets and you lose your profession. If you want to survive, be driven by data.

What’s wrong with that? It is the end of education. Education is not about amassing data. Education is about changing the lives of students; enabling them to become wiser, more thoughtful, more intelligent, more judicious, and to grow in health and character.

David Gamberg is the superintendent of schools in Southold, Long Island, in New York state. He describes what happens when educators lose sight of their purpose.. When your goal is to educate children, numbers do not tell the whole story. And when you forget sight of why you educate, you may no longer be educating. Just serving the dictates of distant policymakers.