We have an obsession in UK schools for data and analysis. The feeling seems to be if it can't be measured it can't be important. Schools must start to weigh up the need for data against its impact on standards and teacher workload. It is important to make sure that our love of data is not leading us to collect too much just because we can. Too much data can be overwhelming and hold schools back rather than move them forwards.
- Who inputs the data?
- Is the data accurate?
- Is the data being replicated in different systems?
- Does the assessment and data actually inform learning?
- Who analyses the data?
- Who is going to use/look at the analysis reports?
- Am I only analysing data and printing reports for Ofsted?
Everyone knows that data, when used well, has a profound and positive impact on raising standards in schools. A report published by the Welsh Government in 2013 entitled ‘Priority review: effective pupil tracking’, states:
"Effective pupil tracking has an essential role to play in the improvement of outcomes and well-being for learners of all ages. Robust and purposeful tracking systems allow schools to target pupils' learning needs, and help school leaders and teachers realise each pupil's potential.”
Many schools however have data systems that are over complicated and place excessive demands on teachers' workload. The time required for data, and even the time to simply understand the system, should not place unreasonable demands on the workforce.
Anti points based tracking is gaining momentum. Data systems need to require teachers to record an assessment at the point of learning and that assessment, once recorded, can be analysed to inform teaching. This avoids the needless repetition of data collection in word documents and excel spreadsheets.
Teachers can spend more time doing more important things, like teaching.
Anti points based tracking requires teachers to make an overall pupil summative judgement at the end of each term, based on a best fit rather than formula calculation. This produces all the data the school needs for analysis and reporting purposes. Teachers spend very little time on data entry, freeing them up to do the 'stuff' that has real impact: improve teaching and learning.
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