Could interactive data enhance student learning?
As one of leading Western countries in many industries, there is belief that the Australian educational system also reigns supreme.
However, according to Pearson's 2015/2016 rankings, cited by MBC Times, Australia finished a distant 15th, down from 12th in 2012. This result placed Australia behind the likes of South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Finland.
To give our next generation the best opportunity of take our country forward, our educational system must improve. Whether this comes in form of better trained teachers, advanced subject matters or higher quality facilities, it is going to be important to close the gap between students who are struggling and those pushing ahead.
Work with the individual, not the group
In 2015, the Grattan Institute released the Targeted teaching: how better use of data can improve student learning report. According to this document, Australian teachers are struggling to create individualised student plans because of the massive gap between the most advanced and those behind the class.
"The best schools in Australia are not necessarily those with the best ATAR or NAPLAN scores."
Disturbingly, students of the same age and year level may exhibit skill levels around five to six years apart – creating a real issue for parents, teachers, principals, administrators and, most importantly, the students themselves.
Grattan School Education Director Pete Goss explained that this revelation highlights why individualised student learning outcomes are key. If a teacher understands how a particular student is progressing over a period of time, it's easier to pinpoint areas of improvements and set a course to lift their performance.
"The best schools in Australia are not necessarily those with the best ATAR or NAPLAN scores but those that enable every student to make the greatest progress in learning, regardless of where they start from," he said.
"Every teacher, principal and education expert knows this to be the case – the challenge is to implement targeted teaching properly. School systems must give teachers the time, tools and training to collect the best evidence about what students need to learn next and use it as the basis of their teaching."
Supporting NAPLAN testing procedures
While NAPLAN is a well-respected, large-scale standardised assessment system, the report cited that "it is too infrequent and imprecise" to provide teachers and principals with high quality data to improve student outcomes. Of course, these assessments are only conducted in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9, so there is a significant 27-month gap between results.
The Grattan Institute does support NAPLAN testing for system monitoring and overall classroom metrics, but it fails to address the needs of individual students whether they are performing below or above the average across the school, state or country.
Data should be accessible across the board
In The University of Queensland's 2013 report titled Teachers using classroom data well: Identifying key features of effective practices, one of the key findings was around improving the flow of NAPLAN test scores and other related student data.
According to the report, access to this information was limited to those in senior management such as principals, deputy principals, department heads and curriculum heads. This meant that Australian teachers didn't always get the data they required to make positive decisions on an individual student's learning.
Of course, this is where Annualised NAPLAN Analysis (ANA) can be of assistance to all parties. Providing testing opportunities in between regular NAPLAN years, teachers receive instantaneous data as soon as the results are entered into the system.
From this position, these professionals can analyse how well students are learning and where there is room for improvement. Principals and administrators can also access the wider dashboard to interpret longitudinal reports, which includes individual, cohort and year level student data.
To learn more about how ANA works, contact the team at Best Performance today.