What the No Child Left Behind Act Has to Teach Us About Metrics and Disciple Making Movements

When we first started discussing metrics within our team, there was a lot of push back because in religious circles metrics are hard to measure.  There was even some discussion as to if they were even biblical.  However for me it was more like coming home...

With a masters degree in education and having spent multiple years as a lead teacher, I am very comfortable with all sorts of metrics.  A quick Amazon search just brought up over 23,000 books for teachers on assessment.  Whereas there is very little agreement on how students, teachers and even schools should be measured, everyone agrees regular assessment is essential.

It seems nearly impossible for people to consistently move towards a goal that isn’t being measured.  The practice of measuring allows us an opportunity to evaluate progress and make course adjustments if we need to.  Without this it is too easy to slowly drift away from a goal without realizing it.  

I started teaching sixth grade science in 2000.  The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was passed in 2001.  As part of NCLB fifth graders were required to be assessed on their science proficiency.  Over the following years I was shocked at difference in the level of science knowledge of the students coming into my class.  Before NCLB, most had never used a balance to find mass, very few knew the difference between a beaker and a graduated cylinder, and all of them knew the parts of the water cycle.  The problem wasn’t that the elementary teachers had not been teaching science, it was that they were not being held accountable for what they taught. Consequently,  they only taught the things they enjoyed.  A set curriculum wasn’t enough to ensure students were getting taught what they needed. Only the accountability of regularly assessing their knowledge against some standard caused the the level of teaching to rise.

I don’t think things are any different in church planting.  Different people enjoy different things and naturally focus on those things.  It is only by establishing metrics in each area and taking time to regularly assess them that we will be able to move beyond our human tendencies and take the steps required to see movement come.

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