This is one of the best posts I have read in a long while. I have been thinking quite a lot about Big Data and trying to understand why so many Big Thinkers are in love with Big Data.

This post by John Kuhn helps me figure out how this happened and what it is wrong.

He refers to Campbell’s Law when he describes the principle that the more a measure counts, the more it distorts the very process it was intended to measure. That means that an audit should have no stakes attached to it. If testing is high-stakes, then people start acting as if the test score is the same as education instead of a measure.

This is where John Kuhn starts, and it gets better and better with each paragraph, written in the fierce and direct style of this great education thinker of our day:

While data (plural) should inform, each datum wants to rule alone. In an America that is uncomfortable with nuance, we have two dominant political parties, two dominant soda brands, and so on. We like to reduce things to manageable-if-extremely-imprecise chunks. As such, a single datum such as a Standardized Test Score–like the ring in The Lord of the Rings–invariably wants to take over. Data-informed quickly gives way to data-driven, and then data-driven gives way to datum-blinded. And that is, in my opinion at least, where we live today.

Another excellent point:

Data, like fire and shotguns, is neither intrinsically good nor bad. In fact, like fire and shotguns, it can be a life-saver when used properly in the right circumstances, and it can be deadly when used improperly in the wrong circumstances. Teachers and parents who get labeled “anti-testing” (because, again, nuance is hard) are often not at all against testing. The vast majority of the so-called “anti-testing” teachers give tests in their classrooms. So it isn’t the test that motivates much of the opposition to reform. And it isn’t the data, either. It’s the fact that many, many stakeholders don’t trust the people hoovering up the data to use–they presume, because of their experience with the school reform movement as it has unfolded–against students, teachers, and schools.

Truth is, I could quote almost every line in this excellent post, because every line has the wisdom of experience, the wisdom of an educator who cares about teachers and students, and who doesn’t want to see them abused by Big Data.