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News and Opinion Apr 11, 2016

Turnaround cited in Tom Vander Ark’s Edweek Op-Ed


Tom Vander Ark’s op-ed Reflecting on Performance is the third in a series on the use of leaderboards and, more broadly, practices that motivate and monitor performance.

Pamela Cantor, M.D., President and CEO of Turnaround, was quoted in the piece about the both the positive and negative effects of leaderboards. Here is an excerpt:

“A leaderboard can be a positive tool if it used as a way to celebrate student achievement or student progress towards a goal,” said Turnaround for Children CEO Pam Cantor. However, warns Cantor, “when rankings from top to bottom are showcased, a leaderboard can become a tool for shaming children.” Cantor, an expert on the damaging effects of childhood trauma, adds:

“Children who feel shame are less likely to take risks and tackle difficult academic material for fear they will fail. We want children to feel safe and supported in school because then they are more likely to engage in their work and gain confidence to persevere as learners. Moreover, beyond fear of failure, children fear embarrassment, and will go to great lengths to avoid it. If we want students to have courage and persistence, then we have to create an enormous amount of safety, both inside and outside of the classroom. One critical thing to recognize is that if you look at why children hurt themselves, one of the biggest reasons is humiliation, often via social media. Shame is toxic to positive outcomes for children.”
Performance monitoring can inspire or embarrass. The intent is performance reflection and engagement in growth. EdLeaders should be thoughtful about how performance monitoring is used and when, how, why any of that data is made public to a school community.

Please read VanderArk’s op-ed here.