Effective Data Assessment

Staff development network

Dr Mark Dowley June 6th, 2024 · 2min read

This week’s reading, A proposal to save five million hours per year of teacher workload without harming achievement, by researcher/author Sam Sims discusses the inaccuracy of testing tools and the cost of teacher time in assessment.

Key points

  • Many schools regularly collect, and then centrally deposit, test data with the aim of tracking pupil progress and planning interventions for students who are falling behind, yet this data is rarely used effectively.
  • Measurements on assessments are imperfect at best and, at worst, irrelevant.
  • Data drops generate additional work for teachers who already have a problem with workload.
  • A government report into school use of data stated, ‘We have not encountered any examples of schools where the actions arising after a half termly deposit of attainment data justify the time investment required by teachers to facilitate six data collection points a year.’
  • Data is most useful when it leads to specific actions.

Read the full article.

What you can do

  • Complete an audit of your current data systems to clarify the data you have.
  • Link each data set to an output, ideally one that changes student behaviour and learning.
  • For example, many schools report on achievement and give a summary to parents. This data can be given to tutor/homeroom teachers and used for coaching conversations.

Celebrate the success of students who have shown improvement or excellence in achievement or behaviour.

Happy coaching,


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