A new Kickstarter project has introduced an app for teachers that can help them keep an eye on student behavior. Any tech that helps make teachers’ lives easier is likely to be welcomed by many, although some people may see it as a little cold.
The Big Five app, according to its Kickstarter page, “will allow educators to easily input, measure, and track discipline referrals easily and conveniently from their phone.”
The app is the creation of Dr. Byron McClure, an educator and school psychologist working in Washington, D.C., who says that he “understands the importance of using data to make sound decisions for our students.”
How does the app work?
The system “will directly allow teachers to input, measure, and track office discipline referrals (ODRs)” directly from their mobile device.”
In turn, a data summary report can be created to help education professionals answer key questions:
- How often do referrals occur (per day, per month, per year)?
- What time/day do they occur (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc.)?
- Where do they occur (classroom, bathroom, hallway, etc.)?
- What type of problem behaviors occur (disrespect, defiance, truancy, etc.)?
- By which students?
Should students just be numbers that are crunched?
Education is always an issue that draws debate, and there is a widely discussed tendency in modern education to treat each student as a unique individual rather than a number being processed through a school system. But the reality of teaching is that this sort of data monitoring is happening anyway, just on paper rather than in an app.
McClure says that a major goal of the app is “saving time, frustration, and paper. That’s right, no more paper referrals!”
The ethnicity element
Another possibly controversial aspect of the Big Five app is the School Ethnicity Reports function.
This feature “allows schools to easily measure and track rates of disproportionality by ethnicity, sex, and even special education status.”
Schools can keep track of whether they are “suspending and expelling more students of color” when compared to peers from other demographics.
Byron McClure believes this “is a necessity because studies continue to show that students of color, particularly African American students, receive disproportionately higher rates of office discipline referrals and suspensions, which leads to poorer outcomes for students color.”
According to the app’s Kickstater page, “Black children are 2.2 times more likely to be punished in comparison to their peers and boys get 82% of such punishments.”
So while the app will allow teachers to keep an eye on individual students who receive too many referrals for repeated problems, this innovation will also be about schools being able to watch for general patterns in the nature of referrals, and in the consequences of those referrals.
Whatever schools decide to use the app for, let’s hope teachers don’t get referred for having their phones out in class all the time.