Using data to improve teaching – a work in progress.

I don’t think many teachers would disagree with the idea that its a good thing to use student assessment data to try and determine what students need to learn next, at least in Victorian schools – or would they?

Often teachers disagree on what student assessment data they find useful for one reason or another or they may argue about the relative worth of time spent on one on one interviews as opposed to online assessments with instant results.

I think the sharing of assessment data in teams is a real cultural change for us,  as we try and figure not only what the students need to learn but also what is it about our teaching that’s effective, or not as the case may be.

What’s becoming obvious is that we need to continue to support teachers to use data more effectively and when its best to use certain tests, online assessments or protocols for looking at student work.

We recently had Philip Holmes Smith [pictured above] workshop teachers on what some of our data sets meant for teaching and learning and how we might go about determining students zones of proximal development [ZPD]. This zone indicates the sorts of learning challenges students are capable of achieving successfully.  The developmentof ZPD’s  is a work in progress.

What I found very useful was ws the development of software enabling us to track students over several years and plot their levels of development in easily identifiable ways. The software enables us to pose some challenging questions about whether students are progressing below or above the expected levels of development and what are we doing about it.

We have started using Philip’s SPA site to do this tracking and analysis of student progress and whilst this is our first year its already supporting us in holding those teacher discussions about student progress.