The purpose of these WalkThrus is to try and ‘demystify’ the things school leaders do by making visible some of the common routines and processes they carry out. I have found, through working with Oliver, that these visual aids can help to simplify otherwise complex processes.
Feel free to use, adapt around your own school, subject and context.
Progress Meetings Or Class Attainment & Progress (CAP) meetings are carried out with each class teacher and relevant leaders shortly after each summative assessment point, no more than 2 or 3 times a year. Their purpose is for everyone to reflect on the current challenges and priorities within a class or year group. A range of sources, including assessment data, is evaluated to inform adaptations to the provision, curriculum or targeted support for the next term. Leaders can often interpret data in different ways from class teachers, so it is really useful to have this joined-up discussion once a term. It helps as a check point to hold both teachers and leaders to account for their contribution towards improvement, and allows leaders to see where any additional support or intervention is needed.
Organise CAP meetings to take place at the end of each term after a summative assessment point.
Analysis should be carried out before the meeting and agreed documentation should be completed which identifies the strengths and areas of focus for the next period. Good teachers are constantly evaluating children’s progress and adapting provision throughout the term, and this just formalises their thinking.
The meeting should be a professional discussion that focuses on classes, groups and individual children and what can be done to address their needs, rather than crude percentages or which borderline children might get ‘over the line’.
The main discussion should centre on how teaching approaches and the curriculum can be adapted within the next term to address any areas of concern.
Try to avoid the temptation to steer the discussion onto solutions to do with teaching assistant intervention and parental engagement. These may be useful things, but the 27.5 hours of curriculum and teacher time afford the greatest opportunity to make an impact.
Use research to support your decision-making. If suggestions focus on specific interventions or organisation such streaming or reducing class sizes, look at what research says about these areas and read around the issues more closely.
Agree what the actions are going forward for the next period and make a shared record of these. Start each meeting with a review of the previous agreed actions. Did everyone do what they said they would? What impact did these actions have? What are the next steps?
As part of this series of short posts to introduce my book, Wholesome Leadership, today I’m sharing a preview of Chapter 8: ‘Assessing Like a Consultant Doctor’.
Wholesome Leadership is now on sale for pre-order and will be published around the 22nd of May 2018. You can read some of the early reviews or find out how to order here – www.wholesomeleadershipbook.com
Assessment has become a primary culprit in the ongoing challenges of teacher wellbeing, recruitment and retention. Workload in this area has spiralled out of control – particularly in areas such as marking, data inputting and evidence gathering. Alongside this, a lack of clarity around national assessment since the removal of levels and increased accountability pressure on schools to achieve in performance tables have combined to create the perfect storm.
Within the chapter, I share some of the challenges that are faced by schools in this area, suggest 10 steps to ‘sorting out summative assessment’ and talk about how we can reduce workload through revising approaches to marking and feedback. The analogy of a ‘consultant doctor’ is used to suggest how we can use assessment in a more manageable and meaningful way within schools.
Assessing like a consultant doctor
One of the perks of having a child with a disability and a complicated medical history is that you get to see the expertise of consultant doctors up close. I have immense respect for everyone in the medical profession, but some of the specialists who have worked with Freddie have been class acts. One of the things that strikes me about these doctors is how they look beyond the obvious and avoid drawing quick conclusions. Rather than making decisions based on limited information, the most skilled and experienced doctors will examine a range of information about a patient as part of their assessment, including blood tests, scans, examinations in clinic, patient history and referrals from other medical professionals. Similarly, the most effective teachers and leaders understand the limitations of any particular test or assessment and can use their experience and expertise to interpret them wisely. And just as careful and intelligent consideration of patient information can lead to an accurate diagnosis and the prescription of helpful treatment, meaningful assessment can lead to greater understanding of gaps in learning and effective tailored teaching and intervention.
Within the chapter, I interview Daisy Christodoulou (Director of No More Marking and author of Making Good Progress and the 7 Myths of Education‘. who kindly gives up time to offer her expertise about the challenges that remain in schools to adapt to a life without assessment levels.
Here is a summary of the chapter in one page…
Wholesome Leadership is now on sale for pre-order and will be published around the 22nd of May 2018. You can read some of the early reviews or find out how to order here – www.wholesomeleadershipbook.com !
I’ve had quite a bit of interest in the assessment and analytics development that we’ve been working on as a trust in the last few weeks so I thought I’d share some of our thinking along with some insights into how we’ve developed consistent summative assessment processes across our trust of 8 primary schools. I was also supposed to make a presentation at the BETT Show this week sharing the analytics tools we’ve developed but couldn’t make it so instead I’ll share some thoughts here.
One of my responsibilities across Northampton Primary Academy Trust is to develop our approaches to assessment in a world without levels. A big part of NPAT’s development is to constantly look at where we standardise practices and where we leave approaches down to individual schools and teachers. One area that made a lot of sense for us to standardise was our summative assessment processes and over the last three years we’ve been working on the what, why, when and how of assessment.
Like many others, we’ve come around to the view that standardised tests across schools are a really important part of our internal assessment system. There are different standardised tests out there and we use PIRA and PUMA for Reading and Maths respectively. Although ‘testing’ can get a bad press, we see a number of real benefits including the following:
They are more reliable than a teacher assessment grade in comparing attainment.
They take much less curriculum time than other forms of ‘Teacher Assessment’ or tests – the ones we use take 45 minutes each.
The workload associated with standardised tests is much less than other lengthy processes we’ve experienced involving evidence gathering or maintaining tracking systems with large amounts of objectives.
On the subject of standardised testing, James Pemroke’s post is well worth a read here.
If there is a question around tests such as PIRA and PUMA, it’s around validity and how relevant the information is that you get from them in relation to say the new end of KS2 tests. A specific example here is that there is almost no arithmetic in the PUMA tests in comparison to the new requirements at the end of KS2. But where the outputs are useful is as a predictor of what outcome children are likely to achieve at the end of Year 6 and thankfully some early correlation work now exists such as this from Tyrone Samuel from Ark Schools which we can build on. Having a sense of how our children are performing in relation to the rest of the country is a really useful thing.
Stop Chasing Shadows
Getting good standardised attainment data from across different classes and schools is really helpful when identifying what the current strengths and weakness exist in the school – particular in comparison to others. By being able to see data such as comparative average scores, we can flag up where there are potential strengths and weaknesses more accurately across KS2 and crucially, before children get to Year 6.
Having an earlier radar on standards can help us to focus on the live issues in the school rather than being duped into a game of chasing shadows responding to what RAISE/ASP or FFT says about the children that left months before. It also gives us the opportunity to intervene earlier when necessary in KS2 which I hope can mean that there is less clamour in Year 6 as cohorts progress through.
How does it work?
Very simply, we have identified 3 standardised assessment points across the year (AP1, AP2 and AP3). These are in December, March and June. For children in Years 3-5, they complete PIRA and PUMA tests at this time. Children in Year 6 complete the 2016 SATs paper at AP1, 2017 SATs paper at AP2 and then the real thing in May. This happens consistently in all our schools at these times.
Collecting and Cleansing Data
Once tests are marked, teachers input the results into our MIS system (SIMS) and then this data is checked centrally to ensure that it is complete and in the right format. There is a lot of data ‘cleansing’ to do at this point in the process where data needs reformatting, double checking and testing. This is a really important stage and has required us to invest in staffing to manage the process as well as solving technical challenges so that the data manager has access to each school’s MIS remotely.
Once the data is in SIMS is complete, it is then sucked up using a ‘data agent’ and all the information held in the different schools is then stored centrally in a data warehouse. This part is really clever; way beyond my skill set and we’ve worked with Matt from Coscole Ltd. who does this work across our trust.
Once the data is in the warehouse, it can then be used for different purposes. This is part of our mantra to ‘collect once, use many times’.
Power BI (again customised and hosted through Coscole Ltd.) then provides the ‘front end’ which is the bit that school staff can engage with. It’s a part of our Office 365 dashboard which all staff already have access to and so it doesn’t require any additional login.
The following three screens are dashboard extracts from our system which allow us to compare attainment from standardised tests across schools in the trust. There are a range of filters you can tinker with to then view these same analytics by either school, contextual group etc.
Please note that the images here are from a version of our data in which all names of schools and individuals have been changed and results randomised so that no-one and no school can be identified.
This final screen is a scatterplot matching prior attainment (1 = Low, 2 = Middle, 3 = High, 0 = No Data) against current test scores. This is a much more visual way of comparing these two fields than looking down a spreadsheet. The same comparisons can be made with targets.
There’s lots more I could write about assessment (who knows I might have a chapter in an upcoming book?) but that’s all for now and hopefully enough to get a taster.
We’re hoping to host a visit to the trust later in the Spring term where anyone interested can find out more about how the data analysis works.
I’d be interested in any comments, suggestions for improvements and to know what other trusts or groups of schools are doing in this area around data.