Making data effective in your school

The collecting of assessment data within a school has never been under greater scrutiny than it is right now. In light of the new Ofsted framework statement about internal data no longer being presented to inspection teams, alongside its increased focus on curriculum design and quality of education, data is seeming to take aback seat. However, as shown by my post on “Question Level Analysis”, internal data plays a key role in informing curriculum decisions, such as:

  • Is the curriculum delivering on its intent?
  • Are there aspects of the curriculum that need revisiting?
  • Are there any groups of pupils that are struggling to access the curriculum or aspects of it?

How you make use of your data is still going to be important, so it is crucial your data, and your processes of collecting it, is effective as it can be.

Step 1: minimize the amount of data you are collecting. Think carefully about whether you everything staff are putting it. If you don’t need it, ditch it. A useful exercise is to multiply through how much data is being input by the average classroom teacher and consider whether you and leaders are getting effective use out of the time staff are inputting data for.

Step 2: provide staff with the data they need rather than them having to hunt for it. To avoid “data confusion” give the vast majority of staff the data you want them to have e.g. performance of each pupil in the class against targets, rankings in year group, overall class data by sub group vs target etc.

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Step 3: cross pollinate data between different areas; mix pastoral, attendance and welfare data with performance data inputted by teaching staff. This allow a “big picture” analysis of an individual pupil.

Step 4: Give key leaders full access to data (once you’ve trained them). Let a few key leaders dig and search for non conventional relationships; this will allow for innovation in terms of how data is used in your setting.

Step 5: Review key priorities with key data users. If a key group of pupils has been identified is there a common link? How can we pull together all the information we have on these pupils to better support teachers without adding to their workload? Add this information to what you already have rather than making something new.

Step 6: Check that any links that have been made can be explained. Ensure there are (potential) lines of causation not just correlation.

Step 7: Check to see if any new data needs inputting and adding to the system. After this the process starts again!

Above all of this, the data is entirely redundant (if first and foremost it has not been moderated internally) if all stakeholders are not looking at data in the same way; it must have the same meaning to a Year 7 parent that is has to a member of the governing body. Only by having this clarity and transparency, do you have any chance of making data effective in your school.

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