This article explores the relationship between commensuration and affect in various contexts of education policy. Commensuration is the process through which disparate qualities are transformed into a common metric and is central to the production of performance data. The rise of governance through numbers in education has resulted in a proliferation of performance data, comparisons and rankings that influence political debate and policymaking. The efficacy of data as a governance mechanism depends on their usage to shift perceptions of performance, and this involves both conscious interpretation and affective sense-making of data and their representation in multiple forms. For example, performance data used within accountability systems in education are linked to sanctions and rewards, and their effects are partially due to the feelings that are provoked. The relationship between affect and data is also important in the mobility of policy ideas, which spread via meetings that enable affective proximity between participants. This article draws on a philosophical concept of affect, defined as the feeling of transition in bodily states, and topological concepts that are being taken up in social theory, to consider new perspectives on education policy research that these thinking tools may afford.