As part of my talk at ResearchEd in Birmingham last weekend, I explored the role of centralised data collection, the ever-present bell curve, the problems with morphing fine-grained ideas about standards and achievement in different subjects into common data formats – all as a pre-amble to examining the limits of ‘can do’ statements. (That’s a whole other post)
Rebecca Foster (@TLPMsF) tweeted this from my talk – and it got lots of hits:
In context, the spreadsheet in question is the one sitting on the central system; the one owned by the the Deputy Head in charge of assessment – or whoever. I don’t suggest that a teacher’s own data from various assessments can’t help to track or pinpoint Amy’s areas of strength and weakness. However, even here, it is more likely that a teacher’s engagement with Amy week to week will tell them more.
The main point I was making is that knowing Amy is struggling isn’t the key question. The key question is: what can you do about it. I honestly feel that we generally spend way too much time focused on identification of students of concern relative to the time we spend devising effective curriculum remedies to problems with learning. And I absolutely do not mean interventions after school – I mean the stuff you do in class or that you get students to do for themselves.
This is where the ‘feedback as actions’ idea comes in. I’ve written that in a separate blog here. #FiveWays of Giving Effective Feedback as Actions
This is just one part of it. Another part is related to responsive teaching, curriculum design, the need to scaffold learning from where students are, not just cram them through a preset curriculum map regardless of their level of confidence and mastery. It’s complex and requires thought.
I would argue that most of the time leaders spend scouring their centralised databases to identify trends and gaps or fuss around chasing up teachers who didn’t enter their data on time or correctly would be better spent getting to know what teachers can and should do in the detail of the learning – the curriculum – to support students who find things hard; to educate themselves about what happens in French, Art, Maths, History, Drama, Chemistry, English…. and engage in detailed conversations about curriculum-level interventions. That’s where the action is and that’s what I was talking about at the time of Rebecca’s tweet.