Friday, 19 April 2019

Student Data - More Than A Summative Grade

In addition to my goal of wanting to increase connections with whānau, another goal this year (and my inquiry), is to reflect more regularly on student achievement and data within my practice. This is something that was discussed in my end of 2018 appraisal, as well as my first term appraisal this year.

A couple of simple things I have already implemented are checkpoints for my Year 12 Health class and offering lunchtime tutorials. The checkpoints have definitely helped so far to hold students accountable, but to also start discussions with them about how they are going and where they are heading next. I have been able to make time for each student individually to support them, but also to contact home if I am concerned they are falling behind (although not positive connections with home, still more connections than last year). I have offered 2 lunchtime tutorials for my Year 11s and 2 for my Year 12s, but only one student has shown up so far. At the end of the day though, I am trying to encourage students to take more responsibility for their learning and be self managed, and many seek help from me outside of school hours through emails and Google Doc comments for instance. I will continue to offer these tutorials, so I know I have offered the time if students need additional help.

To support my inquiry, I have attended a webinar on data to support teaching as inquiry (hosted by Darcy Fawcett and The Education Hub), watched this seminar about data to improve teacher practice (Dr Aaron Wilson and The Education Hub) and read this blogpost by My Study Series about how to best utilise the flipped learning platform (have used with 11PE so far and will use with 13PE next term). I have some thoughts after reading/watching these sources of information.

Using data to inform teacher practice is useful, is important, is pertinent. BUT, we must ask ourselves whether the learning is relevant and authentic. Are the children actually learning? Their test results may be high, but are there valuable learning experiences? Finally, are you judging your teacher effectiveness (or other teachers' effectiveness) based off their academic results? 

Throughout my dissertation, and Aaron reminded me in the seminar, that data does not just have to be related to academic results, does not have to be quantitative (we can use other sources of data, not just academic results). I am guilty though, as are many others, of feeling disappointed that we haven't given our best, and responsible when our results aren't as high as we had hoped. I had a discussion with another teacher last week about grades, and they said they were embarrassed when they had lots of students with the grade 'Not Achieved'. Though it may be difficult to see low academic results, the important thing to ask ourselves is 'did we do everything we could to help this student achieve?' 

Aaron discussed the importance of not just comparing the mean result though, because it may not be an accurate comparison. The bar graphs below show two sets of classes and student results. When the means of the two sets were compared, they were near identical, but it is clear in these graphs there is a considerable difference in individual  student results. Therefore I will need to reflect on students' results like this when comparing 2018 and 2019 results, not just the overall mean.

In addition to the quantitative achievement levels of students, when seeking/collecting/analysing data, we should be considering student progress. Students may be making significant progress but achieving poorly, or may be making little progress but achieving highly. Hence the importance of checkpoints, feedback opportunities, one to one conversations, and other forms of qualitative data. Moving forward I need to be completing more of the aforementioned, as well as providing opportunities for students to apply their knowledge, to relate their learning to other contexts, to utilise learning most relevant to them and to discuss their learning and ideas with others. These will provide opportunities for me to 'collect' informal data, and formatively assess student progress.

As previously blogged about, at Orewa registered teachers do not complete teacher observations, but instead complete Ako observations (which are essentially conversations with students about their learning journey in that class). Aaron identified, as can be seen alongside, some of the problems with completing teacher observations. These are some of the reasons why I value the Ako observations, as I feel they are more authentic and we don't go in with any preconceived ideas or judgements. I did not have anyone come into any of my classes to complete an Ako observation last year, which was disappointing, so hopefully I have some this year as I believe it would be invaluable qualitative data to have the student voice to reflect on.

I have a lot to continue to reflect on and look out for as identified throughout this post. If you are interested to learn further about data in teacher practice, I do recommend watching Aaron's seminar.


  1. We were fortunate to have Aaron present this in person and it was a valuable session. Even more so having the webinar as a rewindable artifact. There were some great reminders there and you have made interesting connections to your context in this post. I will follow with interest to see how it outworks during the year.

    1. Yea I was very greatful to see it uploaded to YouTube as I couldn’t make the session. Lots of great information to reflect on!


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