Learning from Raise

Thanks to Michael Tidd for this helpful article.

The excitement of opening up Raise Online when the data is first published is… well, perhaps excitement is not quite the right word. Nevertheless, when the data finally arrived this term headteachers will have been poring over it trying to extract every last detail of information about last year’s performance. Doubtless governors too will get their chance to share in the scatterplots and tables, wisely guided by the professional leads.

The problem is, it’s too late for all those children, and just like the stock market adverts always tell us: historic performance is not necessarily a guide to future success. Leaders and governors need to consider what has gone before, but all the while need to be keeping an eye on the future. So while Raise can tell us something of what we achieved last year, how else do we keep everyone informed, including our governors?

One big thing that is evident from this year’s Raise summary is the clear focus on disadvantaged pupils, i.e. those eligible for pupil premium funding. Barely a page goes by without the group being separated out from the rest of the cohort and their attainment and progress being listed separately. In many cases, it’s also compared to other pupils nationally, but it’s important to note that it’s not other pupil premium children, but rather the non-PP children they’re being compared to. That’s important to consider when looking at other data in school.

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Ofsted and assessment

THE PHASING OUT OF NATIONAL CURRICULUM LEVELS

National Curriculum levels will cease for Years 1, 3, 4 and 5 at the end of this academic year and for Years 2 and 6 at the end of the 2014/15 academic year. In future schools will be expected to make their own decisions about how to assess pupils. This has implications for future Ofsted inspections, which currently rely heavily on National Curriculum level-related data in RAISEOnline.

HOW OFSTED PLAN TO INSPECT SCHOOLS

This excerpt from Sir Michael Wilshaw’s speech at the North of England Education Conference in January 2014, illustrates what Ofsted will be looking for when carrying out their inspections:

Good schools have always tracked their pupils’ progress and Ofsted will expect to see this continue. We will not endorse any particular approach. But we do expect every school to be able to show what their pupils know, understand and can do through continuous assessment and summative tests.

I don’t know of any good or outstanding school that doesn’t set targets for children to achieve at the end of any key stage. I don’t know of any good or outstanding school that doesn’t use assessment to establish whether children are hitting those targets. I have never seen a good or outstanding school that doesn’t have summative tests at the end of each year.

Regular testing has received a bad press in recent years, as if it were somehow separate and antithetical to the business of education. It is not. It is an essential tool that allows students and their teachers to assess progress. Continue reading →