Impact, Not Just Performance

Passing rates will not and can not tell you your impact on learning. There’s simply more to it than that, and impact may just be the most impact factor educators can measure.

What is Impact on Learning?

Your impact is the combined effects and correlations of your efforts and work. Your impact are the combined results of being on campus and working within your educational system.

Passing rates. Single scores. These tell performance. Not impact.

These metrics give false positives and false negatives. They have a tendency to cause the wrong groups to congratulate themselves and affirm the wrong practices. They also tend to deride and deter than wrong groups from being motivated about their work.

Impact is measured altogether different than performance. It has different metrics and descriptors. Impact is what we want. Impact is what we need to measure.

What is your impact? How do you know?

FAQ: Impact on Learning

Here are a few frequently asked questions regarding impact on learning.

How can a teacher measure impact on learning?

Impact on learning is best measured using growth measures, which include rates of learning in both formal and informal assessments.

How do schools impact students?

The impact of a school can be measured in many ways including student attitudes toward work, failure, and achievement and student products that are deemed valuable by a community.

How can you measure student growth?

Student growth can be measured against annual or age-based norms, standards-referenced mastery, or skill-level learning rates.

Impact on Learning, Questions for Collaboration

This department of education recommends a few helpful questions to guide teacher collaboration on the topic of impact:

  • What have we learned about the impact of this unit on students?
    What were the strengths?
  • What do we need to continue doing?
  • What do we need to strengthen if we are to enable optimal learning growth for every student?

These questions are just the starting point. There are many other ways to facilitate quality collaboration.

Why is Performance a Problem?

Performance is the measurement of action against an expectation. Here are two examples.

The team performed well in last night’s game.

This judgment of performance is subject to an expectation. If it’s the champion team, their performance is expected to be different than last year’s last-place team.

This is problematic in schools.

She performed well on her reading test.

The meaning of her performance depends on the expectation. Did you expect her to perform better than her age-based peers? Was she expected to achieve a certain score? Did she improve over last year?

Most accountability systems use performance, but as this example shows, performance is highly subjective.

Impact on learning is also subjective, but it’s not subject to an expectation. It’s subject to a measurement of growth.


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