Data

October 22, 2009 § Leave a comment

Data. I don’t think I have been to any DOL or CLT meeting that has not referred to or focused upon at some point the data being collect in school in some fashion or form. I have never had an issue with working with data and its one of the few places that my Masters degree really supports my professional development, having had to take advanced statistics and research methods modules.

This week’s CLT meeting reviewed the ‘data collection’ practices and outcomes that had occurred already this term. Attitude to Learning (ATL) scores for all students was followed by subject targets for all years, to be shared and discussed with students during mentor.

I was interested in two/three aspects, the actual process of collecting the data and the management of the process – to lesser degree the actual quality of the data. I was reassured that I was not the only colleague present that had reservations about our current practices.

My first query regards the necessity of so much data for lower school students. ATL scores provided an easy barometer for students to gauge their learning relationship with staff. At the subsequent parents evening, these scores were then easily shared with parents. Even from this simple set of scored students could be targeted improvements in individual subjects or their overall total.

Can the same be said of the time expensive, target setting? The process was moderated by senior interviewing students from across the school and feedback was variable. As a mentor, I would have to agree. Key points note

  • I was not confident that my lower school mentee understood their attainment grade targets.
  • I was less than confident that my mentees understood the process of collecting 3 x 8 individual subject targets and what they meant.
  • This process, of student collecting targets, was impeded by students low literacy skills and inability to collect and record their own targets reliably.
  • Some students were frustrated by generic targets set by some subject areas, particularly Yr9 and 10 students.
  • It was evident that the students who gained the most from this process were Yr11 students. Suggesting that a level of student maturity is required to make target setting motivating.

This meeting then left me with a number of unanswered questions.

Do target grades, barely understood by the lower school students, provide the basis for positive academic performance conversations? Would a recording tool like a learning ladder or emotional tree, encourage the development of academic aspirations more effectively? Is the time invested in collecting lower school data be invested into more resilient processes for Yr 10/11? What / how do other schools record? Can ICT have a role to play? ILPs or e-Portfolios?

One minor point, in my pseudo CLT role, I retain a pastoral role as a mentor. I felt that this enabled me bring an honest opinion to the meeting. When / if later formally in a position of leadership, inviting ‘rock face’ staff to such a meeting has two clear benefits. Invites to CLT meetings would be both fantastic CPD experience for staff, but also invaluable ‘real’ accounts of the process. I am interested to see how this issue of student academic motivation is resolved.

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