Understanding 10: Misguided Measuring Can Distract Us From What’s Important

The push for accountability in education has led to more and more measuring. Much of what is most valuable in Learning is at best difficult to measure. The more attention we give to the narrow band of easily quantified student data, and the more accountability we feel for servicing those narrow measurements, the less capable we will be of even seeing the most important elements of student growth.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

“We can become so adept at measuring the height of the stem that we miss the bloom.” –Teaching From Within

  1. A culture that is Overly Confident about Rationality by Parker Palmer
  2. Assessment Crisis: The Absence Of Assessment FOR Learning by Richard Stiggins
  3. The Mismeasure of Teaching and Learning in Contemporary School Reform Part I by Mike Rose
  4. The Mismeasure of Teaching and Learning in Contemporary School Reform Part II by Mike Rose
  5. Seattle High School’s Teachers Toss District’s Test from NPR



Consider the lilies of the field,
the blue banks of camas opening
into acres of sky along the road.
Would the longing to lie down
and be washed by that beauty
abate if you knew their usefulness,
how the natives ground bulbs
for flour, how the settler’s hogs
uprooted them, grunting in gleeful
oblivion as the flowers fell?

And you—what of your rushed and
useful life? Imagine setting it all down—
papers, plans, appointments, everything,
leaving only a note: “Gone to the fields
to be lovely. Be back when I’m through
with blooming.”

Even now, unneeded and uneaten,
the camas lilies gaze out above the grass
from their tender blue eyes.
Even in sleep your life will shine.
Make no mistake.
Of course, your work will always matter.
Yet Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed like one of these.

-Lynn Ungar from What We Share (Collected Meditations, Volume 2) (Collected Meditations, V. 2.)