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Data classes: an investigation of the people that ‘do data’ in schools

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posted on 23.01.2022, 23:37 by Neil SelwynNeil Selwyn, Luci Pangrazio, Bronwyn Cumbo

Amidst ongoing enthusiasms for ‘data-driven’ schooling, concerns are being raised over likely shifts in power associated with the ways in which school staff are engaging with the production and analysis of data. Following the emerging tradition of ‘critical data studies’, this chapter addresses the important question of who gets to ‘do’ data within school contexts (and, conversely, who does not). In particular, the chapter draws on in-depth interview data generated from qualitative studies of digital data practices within three secondary schools in the Australian state of Victoria. Belying outward appearances of being successful ‘data schools’, five distinct ‘hierarchies’ of data-using staff are identified – each aligned with a number of notable reconfigurations of power and redistributions of agency. The chapter discusses the ways in which pressures to use data are entwined with wider reformations of teacher identity and teacher professionalism. In particular, the chapter considers how any conferred benefits of ‘doing data’ seem delineated by a range of significant factors - not least teachers’ gender, status, disciplinary background and career stage. In this sense, it is concluded that dominant discourses of the educational benefits of data-driven schooling need to be challenged – if not reconsidered altogether.

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