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Using data to monitor student growth

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Using data to monitor student growth

Staff at this New South Wales school are using data to monitor student growth and measure how students are progressing through their learning.

In his latest Teacher video Greg Whitby, Executive Director of Schools in the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta, speaks to Candice Ferey, a teacher from St Columba’s Catholic College in Springwood about this approach.

Ferey says they’re not just looking at formalised assessments like NAPLAN or PAT (Progressive Achievement Tests), but also looking at the material that they generate as a school and using that to watch the progress of students and plan next steps, strategies or interventions to progress their learning.

‘We’ve also started to develop quite a lot of our own screeners. Linked in with our literacy and numeracy goals that we develop as a college, we identify areas that we want to work on and we say that we would like students to have so much progress over a certain set of time,’ Ferey explains.

The screener is implemented at different points throughout the year and marked by staff. Ferey adds a lot of planning went into this process and the school has had to modify and adjust the approach over time. ‘We had to review the numeracy screener because after the first or second time that we implemented, a lot of kids were at the top of the screener already, so it wasn’t giving us that greater growth because students were just hitting the top. So, the maths teachers – and this is where their expertise came in – looked at more questions that were … harder, so we could see the students moving beyond that capability.’

Ferey says it’s been a really worthwhile experience for all the staff involved and recommends it to other educators. ‘I think it’s a really worthwhile process to go through and it’s worth considering.

‘I think its worth, together as colleagues, talking about this. I know we have cluster meetings with our goals with two other high schools and it’s really beneficial to hear what they’re doing and hear what we’re doing.

‘To think about these things and to look at growth, it’s tricky but it’s really worthwhile.’

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In what ways do you use data to monitor student growth over time? Do you use both formal assessments as well teacher observation and feedback?

Candice Ferey provides an example where her staff had to review the screener they’d developed once they realised students were exceeding its limit. Think about an assessment you’ve developed – does it do what you hoped? What are the limitations? How could you adapt the approach to make it even more useful?

Anthony Blackhurst 05 December 2017

Wonderful work! I started doing something similar in South Africa last year. I have been organising Mathematics tasks into my own idea of differentiated levels (difficulty and depth factors). We are starting to measure pupil progress across these levels rather than according to grade syllabii. We also do external benchmarking, locally and internationally.

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