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Posts tagged with: Data.

Part 3 – Data – What information do schools report? What information should schools report?

Data for reports


My previous two posts have led me to this point relating to what information schools share at each data point.  Parents, teachers and students all have different priorities when it comes to the information that is shared with them.  My aim is to unpick why we communicate certain pieces of information and whether or not we communicate the most important pieces of information.


Of the data available to report home at each data point, what is each stakeholder interested in?


Parents – As a parent of two children, I can understand why parents are so keen to ascertain what specific grade or level their child is working at.  They may be keen to compare it with any targets set or they may want to know how the grade or level compares with other students and subjects.  The more competitive parents may want affirmation that their child is one of the top performing students.  The big question here is, if the grade is the main priority for parents, how much do parents value information about what their child actually can and can’t do?  I would hazard a guess that if teachers started by talking about a child’s strengths and areas for development parents would be thinking this is interesting but what grade are they working at?



Teachers – The cynical side of me would say that teachers are mindful of PM targets and so information about the performance of groups as a whole is important.  Again trying to shift the mindset, the most useful information to teachers is that which relates to the strengths and areas for development of the individuals within our groups as it is this information which will allow us to adapt our teaching.


Students – In an earlier conversation with @Concordmoose, she informed me that the results of a student voice survey revealed that students want grades they can trust as well as information that will help them improve.  The same can be said for the students in my school.


Although students want feedback on what they need to improve, the grade/level still seems to be the priority to them.  Where grades are the most important piece of information for both students and parents, we face a constant battle in articulating that the grades/level are simply a result and that what we should actually be focussing on are the individual areas for development which could relate to particular topics or specific skills that need refining.  Primary schools may well be better at this than secondary schools with regards to the specific feedback they give to parents.  Equally, many secondary schools may have refined the way they report to parents to give them more information than the predicted grades and attitude to learning.  At my school, there is still work to be done on this.


This leads me to two key questions:


  1. Is there a way in which schools can report information that is useful to all stakeholders?


  1. Should schools report information based on the needs of all stakeholders?


One solution to the first question would be to apply a PLC methodology to summative tests in order to give both a grade and forensic feedback on areas of strength and areas for development.  I have included an example of this below.

summative PLC

With regards to the second question, the honest answer is that I don’t know and I would welcome   feedback on this.  What I am absolutely sure of is that every effort should be made to shift the focus from specific grades/levels to what students can actually do and what they need to do better.

Part 2 – How do we prevent data being the catalyst for change?

Just to clarify, I am no data heathen.  I merely want to stress that we should not rely on data to set our learning and teaching priorities.  The most important data to me is the data which tells us exactly what the students within our care can and can’t do.  A school with a good grasp on this will find no surprises when it comes to analysing whole school data.

I don’t particularly like the term data as it removes the personal element from the information about the students we teach, turning individual skills and talents into numbers and graphs.

As made abundantly clear in my previous post, my biggest gripe relates to the use of summative data to inform learning and teaching actions.  That being said, how then do we ensure that there are no surprises at the data entry points throughout the year?  For me, the key is for teachers to focus on establishing a much clearer on-going picture of what exactly the students in their classes can and can’t do.

A reapportioning of time to formative assessment methods is one way to ensure that lessons are adapted regularly in order to respond to the ever-changing needs of the students.  One way of tackling this, which many schools are now utilising, is by using Personalised Learning Checklists which help to provide an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of each student.  I have included a couple of examples below, but I am keen to stress that the focus is not on what they look like or indeed how they are filled in.  The one key focus is that the information is used to inform teaching on a daily basis.

PLC example 2


PLC Example 1

PLCs in essence, are a breakdown of whole specification or individual topics into key areas or statements which are then used to assess pupil progress.  They can focus on key skills or the whole subject content but when used effectively, they give a comprehensive overview of the individual strengths and areas for development for each student.  Although the statements can be progressive and can be used to attribute a grade, the key point is to give a personalised overview of progress for each student.

So how can PLCs prevent surprises at each data point?

Using formative assessment methods to fill out the PLCs, identifies gaps at the beginning, during and towards the end of a unit allowing teachers to adapt their lessons in response to the needs of their groups.  This methodology should systematically prevent gaps from opening meaning that there should be no surprises when analysing the data at the end of a unit of learning.  Any gaps that are apparent from summative data, will already have been identified by subject teachers and work will already have begun on strategically using PLCs to modify teaching to close any such gaps.  Actions off the back of PLCs could include:

  • Interleaving weak topic as starter tasks.
  • Personalised homework tasks.
  • Lessons focused on common problem areas.
  • Communication with parents about exactly what their child can and can’t do as opposed to identifying units that they underperformed in.



PLCs can help ensure that lessons are personalised, teaching time is efficiently used and that any developing gaps are systematically closed.