NEAC, Transforming Education

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Using Data To Raise Standards In Schools

Using Data To Raise Standards…

In 2004 I was interviewed by the TES as Assistant Headteacher at Notre Dame High School about the way we used data to raise standards.

NAEC Improving The use of Data from MIS to VLE

I had done a lot of work with Chris Jackson from the Local Authority to get as much as we could from the Fischer Family Trust (FFT) reports. The principle was very simple. I wanted to use our MIS to hold all the data, including FFT estimates and marks for termly assessments, in one place. I discovered the nerd within me.

Since then my ambitions for the use of Data in schools have grown but I am struck by a number of things.

Firstly I very rarely find schools that use their MIS effectively, particularly with assessment data. There are elements of good practice in almost every school but it is not often that I come away thinking that a school is getting value for money from this very expensive resource. Some schools buy in other resources, almost all secondary schools employ a data manager, and far too many rely on spread sheets. In all these cases teachers work harder than they need to and when OFSTED asks for a particular analysis some poor soul spends the entire night in front of a computer extracting the information. Presenting to governors is another matter entirely.

You will see from Sarah-Jane’s post on Socrative that there are now some great tools for assessing learning on the fly. The article in the TES foretold online exams by 2006. This reality is so far away that we meet a lot of teachers with very few ICT skills at all who simply do not see the need. This area of development has been hampered by infrastructure. Schools and Academies need a reliable examination system. Paper exams are not subject to Internet connectivity, flat batteries or Windows updates. It seems they are just as vulnerable to cheating.

Today there is no reason for schools to have unreliable ICT infrastructure. Our technical team do a lot of great work with ICT service teams in Academy Trusts, Local Authorities and Schools to ensure ICT brings about the best in teaching and learning.

The third thing that strikes me is the huge variation in the use of Learning Platforms or Virtual Learning Environments (VLE). Again we have at our disposal a powerful tool for collecting progress data while simultaneously providing Assessment For Learning feedback.

I can’t help but be disappointed with the progress that has been made in this area internationally. There are some fantastic examples of good practice and the research and development that has taken place in teaching and learning is great. However we need to get to grips with the power of technology to dramatically increase the quality of learning and our ability to monitor learner progress.

What Needs To Be Done?

I suggest a three point plan

  1. Invest time and training in the school MIS
    1. Agree a set of grades and stick to them (APP is a good model)
    2. Set up Assessment Manager for an Assessment every 2 Weeks
    3. Store all assessment info (Mark books) on the MIS
  2. Get your VLE working properly
    1. Make it the central point for all lesson plans and resources
    2. Fill it with self-marking assessments and quizzes
    3. Get Parent, Pupil and Teacher access working from anywhere.
  3. Make sure your ICT support is a service focussed on teaching and learning
    1. All front of class displays working and in use
    2. Teacher devices enabling the most effective pedagogical approaches
    3. Learner devices that inspire rather than frustrate learning

I realise that is technically a nine point plan but I wanted to give you something you could take a way and get started on.

All of the above are a matter of resource. Perhaps we could help you with capacity and bring our considerable experience to the table. Why not contact us.