Helping MATs make sense of their data

James Pembroke is the founder of the school data company, Sig+, and he’s written this very handy article to help Multi Academy Trusts make sense of their data.  

What are the benefits and risks of data collection in MATs?

Due to the nature of MATs, there’s a wide range of expertise that can be utilised to develop effective, common approaches to assessment. Decision makers are more well informed, so they can direct resources to where they’re most needed, and large numbers of pupils mean more reliable, meaningful data. The risk of data collection, though, is that it might lead to a top down, accountability-focused system of assessment that increases workload but doesn’t have much of an impact on learning. So, how can we make sense of all this data, and put it to good use?

Ofsted’s approach to measuring progress

Ofsted does not expect schools to predict progress scores – this is because they are aware that this information will not be possible to produce, due to the way that progress measures at both KS2 and KS4 are calculated.

The Ofsted Handbook states that “Ofsted does not expect performance and pupil-tracking information to be presented in a particular format. Such information should be provided to inspectors in the format that the school would ordinarily use to monitor the progress of pupils in that school.”

How can school leaders support the effective use of data to promote learning above tracking?

6 golden rules of tracking:

  1. Do not recreate levels
  2. Ensure that your tracking system is a tool for teaching and learning, not accountability
  3. Separate teacher assessment from performance management
  4. Do not compromise to fit the rules of a system
  5. Use systems to reduce workload, not increase it
  6. Measure progress, but don’t obsess over it

Reviewing workload

The performance of MATs is monitored, and senior leaders need to know how schools in the trust are doing. So that MAT leaders can spot areas of weakness and effectively direct resources, they must track attainment and progress of pupils, groups and cohorts in core subjects. To do so, they need quick access to robust data without increasing workload.

  • Be ruthless: only collect what is needed to support outcomes for children. Always ask why data is needed
  • The recent removal of ‘levels’ should be a positive step in terms of data management; schools should not feel any pressure to create elaborate tracking systems

In light of this article, what are the benefits of standardised tests?

Remember that Standardised scores are not the same as scaled scores.

  • Question level analysis
  • Benchmark against other pupils nationally
  • Validate teacher assessment
  • Provide a more robust progress measure
  • Give an idea of VA in advance
  • Test practice
  • Compare standards within and between schools
  • Reveal attainment gaps between groups

What should my trust level reporting system do?

  • Aggregate standardised test scores (and comparative judgement data)
  • Show progress of cohorts and key groups year-on-year
  • Track attainment gaps between groups, particularly disadvantaged/non-disadvantaged pupils
  • Compare schools within the trust
  • Provide changes in percentile rank (i.e. IDSR-style measures)
  • Take advantage of MAT numbers to calculate statistically significant shifts in data
  • Standardise non-standardised test data

What 3 questions should I ask before collecting data?

  • Who is it for and why is it needed?
  • What impact will it have on learning (and workload)?
  • Is it reliable and comparable?


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The Year 6 SATs are over, so what next for Year 5?

Thanks to Ruth Duckworth, Year 6 Teacher/Writing Lead at Christ Church C of E Primary School, for this really insightful piece full of handy hints and tips for transitioning your Year 5s into Year 6.

The Year 6 SATs are over for another year; writing pieces will soon complete the end of Key Stage 2 assessments and many staff will breathe more easily for a few weeks – until ‘data day’ in early July. So, many of you will be thinking about the next cohort to come into Year 6.

Transitioning from Year 5 into Year 6

Current good practice in many schools sees Year 5 pupils starting to work with their soon-to-be Year 6 teachers before the summer break. There may not be much of a break for teachers fresh from SATs cramming in the core subjects, but when the Year 6 teaching year is not ‘a year’ (with SATs in May), making accurate teacher assessments this summer term is vital.  Also, the building of close working relationships with pupils now, ready for September, can certainly be of great benefit for staff and pupils alike. In our case, Year 5 is a much more challenging cohort of pupils than the one we taught this year, both in terms of academics and behaviour. For the first time, we feel it necessary to greatly extend our usual ‘move-up day’ plans.  We scheduled end of Year 5 summer term assessment tests in late May, so we are now able to have a six-week block of consistent teaching and gap filling for Year 5 pupils in June and July. Our strong Year 6 staff team will be largely based in Year 5 in the mornings, from immediately after the half-term break.

Continue reading →

SATs 2018 Round-up: surprises, challenges and lessons-learnt

Thanks to Tennyson Road, Christ Church CE Primary, and Medmerry Primary school for sharing their reactions to the 2018 SATs. 

How did you find the SATs this year?  Tweet us your thoughts on this year’s tests @RSAssessment

Tennyson Road Primary School

“Thanks to Rising Stars resources, our children were well prepared and took on the challenge with enthusiasm” – Carla Gotch, Tennyson Road Primary School

‘I really enjoyed that Miss!’ was the cry from Kestrel class after closing their final paper on Thursday Morning. A smile creeping across my face. If nothing else I had done my job right! 30 happy children all confident and enjoying SATs! Or maybe that was just the SATs breakfast they had each day… Continue reading →

What does active assessment look like in Primary schools?

Far too often, assessment is divorced from teaching and learning because it is a relatively passive experience. 

Thanks to John Dabell, trained teacher and former Ofsted inspector, for the following article.

Assessment makes a significant difference to learning, especially when children are actively involved in their own learning, when assessment is an essential part of the learning experience and when assessment boosts self-esteem and motivation.

The first and most important principle of learning is that children are engaged in the process. Assessment isn’t done to children but with them as an active process.

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What does effective assessment look like in primary maths?

A good test isn’t just a summative experience – it is also packed with rich formative opportunities.

Thanks to John Dabell, trained teacher and former Ofsted inspector, for the following article.

Effective assessment in maths is all about team-work and joined-up thinking. It doesn’t stand alone or parade data like a pedagogical peacock.  Instead, it links together teaching, learning and assessment in a creative and integrated fashion, so that teaching promotes learning, learning enables assessment to take place and assessment acts as a stimulus to both teaching and learning. Continue reading →

Reception Baseline Announcement – implications for schools

What are your thoughts on the reception baseline assessment?

Following the DfE’s announcement on 11th April 2018 that a new statutory baseline assessment will be introduced in autumn 2020, we collated some initial thoughts about the announcement.

Thanks to James Pembroke and Michael Tidd for sharing their views on this.  You can join in the conversation on Twitter @RSAssessment.

Continue reading →

6 ways to improve GPS test technique

How about a few more marks on grammar papers?

Thanks to Ruth Duckworth for the following article.

As we are in the last few teaching weeks running up to the end of Key Stage Two SATs again, Year Six teachers like myself are now well-entrenched in test practice – encouraging pupils to keep their full focus to achieve their best and grasp the all-important ‘expected’ score (from last year of course) before May.  Then, we may all be a little more confident that whatever the real tests bring, the 100s will flow.  Continue reading →

7 things you need to know about standardised scores and scaled scores

Scaled scores and standardised scores – what’s the difference?

By Cerys Hadwin-Owen, Assessment Publisher

WCerys Hadwin-Owenith so many different assessment measures being used throughout primary schools, we’re often asked to clarify the difference between them. So we’ve gone back to the drawing board to provide some quick facts about two key test outcomes: scaled scores and standardised scores (because while both show performance, they aren’t quite the same thing).

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6 things you need to know about the new 2018 KS2 writing teacher assessment framework

We asked Shareen Mayers to share her personal views on what the new KS2 writing teacher assessment framework means for schools, and to highlight some of the salient points. Please note that this guidance relates to KS2 writing only.

Please see Shareen’s previous article for a summary of the key changes to writing, including a greater focus on composition.

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Building and boosting vocabulary to improve results in reading and grammar tests

Thanks to Ruth Duckworth  for the following article.

One of the areas that has been identified as a weakness for Year 6 pupils taking end of Key Stage 2 reading tests relates to content domain 2a: ‘give or explain the meaning of words in context’.  This is an ongoing concern for teachers, as 20% of the questions on the 2017 reading SATs paper focused on this domain.

Further reaching than Year 6, teachers from Year 2 and across Key Stage 2 know that the increased pitch of vocabulary in both English reading and grammar, punctuation and spelling test papers is a challenge for many pupils – especially when undertaking more formal SATs type format tests (whether half-termly or at the end of each term).  It is therefore imperative to read widely with all children, plan English lessons around high quality texts, and also explicitly teach new vocabulary in context across wider curriculum subjects. Continue reading →