It's the end of the term and teachers have started their termly data input ready for school leaders to spend the holiday analysing pupil progress. This data doesn't just appear out of thin air. Teachers spend time looking through books, notes, tests and other evidence to establish a 'picture' of progress.
For school leaders, accuracy is the key
Poor data is as much use as no data. As a former headteacher, I needed my staff to be able to accurately show the learning journey of a pupil. I didn't want staff to provide data that was based on an 'assessment week' or an end of term test. I wanted my teachers to make ongoing assessments at the point of learning. I wanted to be able to 'drill down' to when the skills were taught. I wanted to know how pupils performed during the topics/units of learning and the lessons themselves. I wanted an accurate picture.
As teachers spend time entering assessment data in the school system, ask yourself:
- Is it accurate?
- Can you drill back assessment to the point of learning?
If the answer to either of these questions is 'no', then the time teachers are spending on their data inputting could be pointless and a waste of time.
Once the data has been analysed what does it show?
Hopefully it will show the pupils' progress. Pupils however progress at different rates and are influenced by many external factors. Still, we fool ourselves into thinking there is such thing as the ‘average pupil’. Still, we expect them to progress at the exact same rate. We expect them to progress at a linear rate.
We expect pupils to follow a uniform path, regardless of their starting point. We imagine this path as being broken-down into convenient, prescriptive progress-blocks of equal measure, over regular time periods.
Progress must be measurable. The ever-increasing pressure of accountability has seen the introduction of complicated points progress tracking systems and this has impacted on the workload of teaching staff.
It is time to record assessments in an accurate way that informs teaching and learning. It is time for schools to create manageable and accurate assessment systems.
You can read more from me regarding my views and opinions on education right here on the InfoMentor blog. You can also find out more about InfoMentor which is a teaching and learning resource that has been specifically designed to make life easier for schools by reducing workload for the modern teacher. You can download white papers, view case studies and request a demo.