4 key questions to check whether your assessment data is accurate?

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Data can’t disguise what is happening in the classroom. Data identifies key questions, but it doesn’t provide, without further enquiry, the answers.

Here are 4 key questions that can easily be answered with accurate assessment data

1. What my students still don’t know or can’t do?
Teachers spend large quantities planning and teaching in engaging motivating lessons. It can be demoralising in the realisation of just how little students know or remember during an end of topic assessment. In many classrooms, a grade or level is subsequently and reluctantly entered into a computer and the teacher has to then move on to the next topic. A 'production line' of teaching. It is time to move away from aggregated data to data that reveals where there are gaps in learning. A mindset needs to change from the quantity of the curriculum and more towards securing the necessary knowledge, skills and understanding. These are the foundations on which future learning can be built. This assessment helps to plan the next lesson and avoid the ‘pushing on regardless’ approach of production line teaching.
2. Am I about to spend valuable time teaching my students ‘stuff’ that they already know?
Without accurate assessment recording, it is difficult for teachers to remember what has already been taught and learnt successfully from term to term. Teaching ‘stuff’ that students already know can switch students off and lead to class behaviour issues. This can also be difficult when teachers change, for example covering an absent colleague, as they don't know at what stage the students are in their learning. Schools need to look at ways of assessing students and recording that not only easily identifies gaps in learning but also highlights exactly what has been taught previously. Teachers know where students are in their learning and those ‘covering’ can pick up a lesson.
3. What am I teaching well and where can I improve?
Self-reflection is a key trait for improvement, both individually and for an organisation. Teachers need to be willing and feel confident in evaluating their own ability based on accurate evidence. Looking at student assessments helps teachers to become skilful at spotting patterns and trends. It opens a professional dialogue with a colleague who appears to have different data and possibly taught it much better.
4. Was there a good pace in my teaching?
The conclusions that can be drawn out from accurate data are about what our students know and don’t know, or can and can’t do, and what we do teach and don’t teach well are more useful than ever before. Accurate assessment and its recording sit is key in improving teaching and learning. The better the collection of appropriate data the more impact it has on improving teaching and learning. Remember accuracy is the key as ‘poor data is as good as no data’. You can read more from me regarding my views and opinions on education right here on the ESP Thinking blog You can also find out more about ESP Thinking - a teaching resource that has been specifically designed to make life easier for schools by tackling workload.