What’s the point of assessment data?
Often in schools, data is seen as a necessary evil that soaks up precious time. Sometimes it can seem no more than a hoop to be jumped through to justify your existence to parents, inspectors, and education departments. With the removal of government expectations for data collection during the current pandemic and the assertion from Ofsted that they will no longer look at a schools’ internal data, some may feel that the time has come to abolish time-consuming data collection practices.
We don’t see it this way and actually see it as an opportunity to rethink your approach to data. Without the need to generate data solely to be used by others, you can take back ownership of our assessment data and use it for its original intention- to inform teaching and learning. Using assessment data to understand how your pupils are attaining in general, who is and isn’t working at age related expectation, and where teaching efforts need to be focused is incredibly useful.
The most important data within your school should be that which has a definable, positive impact on your pupils. To protect workload and maximise benefit, a key focus should be data that can be collected once but used multiple times:
- To gain insight into teaching and learning – Monitoring pupil progress, understanding the differences between cohorts and identifying timely pupil interventions.
- To plan how teaching and learning should develop – Identifying next steps in learning for groups, providing support and highlighting areas for additional focus.
- To engage parents – Sharing assessment information that informs them about what their child has learned and engages and empowers them to support their child’s next steps.
- To ensure effectiveness – Governors and other school stakeholders require progress and attainment data to be clear and concise so they can understand the effectiveness of intervention programmes and resources.
What data should we collect?
There are three key types of information that Classroom Monitor enables you to collate, analyse and use:
Criteria based assessment: The markbooks provide and ideal way to track learning against your school’s chosen assessment criteria. Each pupil’s unique learning profile can be built up and tracked through recording a combination of assessment and examples of learning. Great for gap analysis, informing planning and understanding what is happening in a subject.
Test data: Standardised tests give teachers an externally validated way of benchmarking their pupils’ attainment. It can give you easy to digest numbers for sorting, grouping and sharing.
Teacher judgements: Teachers are professionals and experts in assessment. A periodic judgement which enables them to draw on the full range of information available to them can provide a simple data set with minimal impact on workload.
How can we best use our assessment data?
The best way of using this data, and the focus of Classroom Monitor, lies in the way the data is synthesised and used together to most effectively benefit the pupils in your school. Taken on its own, each data type can have its drawbacks: assessments against criteria can be very detailed, standardised tests can be too general to guide learning and teacher judgements may lack external validity. However, when viewed together, you can find strength.
In particular, the teacher judgement can operate as the single ‘point of truth’ for your data. Using the tools in Classroom Monitor, teachers can draw on criterion-based and test-based information to record a judgement that is far more valid than one based on a single type of information. This then provides reliable data that can be used in many ways.
What use is assessment data in summer 2020?
You may be thinking that this is all well and good in normal circumstances but how useful is assessment data now? In fact, those schools who have an optimised and broad approach to their assessment data will find they are in a strong position to combat the negative effects of the disruption to this academic year. Strong data can both guide remote learning and facilitate a quick and effective return to school when that occurs.
Criterion based assessments help you to quickly identify and address gaps in learning. Test data provides you with an external benchmark to assess your pupils in relation to where they should be and those who need most help to get there. A teacher judgement provides an effective, intelligence-based way to bring all of this together.
With the disruptions to learning over this academic year, your data has never been more important. Used well, it can help you to quickly and easily identify gaps that can be addressed. To ensure that this is as effective as possible, you need to make sure that your data is accurate, relevant and in a system that allows you to extract the maximum value from it.
A huge selection of materials and guidance to help keep your school running effectively during lock down can be found on the Juniper Education Resource Hub. This area is being updated daily, with posts sharing new material on Juniper LinkedIn and Juniper Twitter feeds.