A ‘data-driven’ superintendent won’t help Montgomery’s students
The July 14 editorial “Montgomery’s leadership gap” missed the mark on what ails the school system. As a teacher in Montgomery County, I can confirm that Montgomery County Public Schools has been measuring student progress with “hard numbers” for at least a decade and, in conjunction with the measures of student satisfaction, continued to do so throughout the administration of former superintendent Joshua P. Starr. Rather than belabor the achievement gap (i.e., results of standardized tests), school systems should address its primary cause, which is an opportunity gap (i.e., the unequal or inequitable distribution of resources and benefits).
Further, the idea of replacing one administrator with a more “data-driven” one is misleading. A Brookings Institution study last year examining the connection between superintendents and student achievement concluded that “hiring a new superintendent is not associated with higher student achievement.” The study also revealed that student success does not improve the longer a superintendent serves in a district. Teachers and principals know students best; let them address these multifaceted issues and create the tools to fix them. A data-fixated figurehead is ill-advised. This approach has been tried, and it failed. It is time for a better-informed, comprehensive approach to education.