Too many actions in schools are driven by what the data says. The fundamental flaw with this lies in the mindset which underpins it. Labouring over data to pick holes in performance in order to identify actions, is completely the wrong way to go about affecting change. A staggering amount of time is spent filtering spreadsheets and processing marksheets in order to trigger actions. Instead, the data should merely be used to check that everything you are doing is having the desired impact.
When the data is recorded, we already know that it is likely show to gaps between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students. We know that it will highlight differences in performance between gender groups or between individual classes. This data should never be the catalyst for changing practice. If we are relying on data to highlight these things, then we are never going to make the necessary changes to positively impact on pupil outcomes.
As teachers, we know what is effective in the classroom and there is a wealth of pedagogy to support this. But it seems to me that there needs to be a significant shift in the way schools use data in order to bring about the necessary change in mindset which will really close the gap in terms of achievement. What is important is that the children within our care experience high quality teaching on a daily basis. We don’t need data to drive the development of this. If we get our learning and teaching priorities right in the first place, then data should simply be used to check our progress towards providing high quality education for all.