Te Kete Ipurangi Navigation:

Te Kete Ipurangi

Te Kete Ipurangi user options:

You are here:


You have evidence-based information that you see as reliable and valid. It indicates a need for action. How do you decide what to do about it?

The information you get from the analysis will not always point to an obvious intervention. How do you decide what action to take? You use professional judgment.

Data analysis does not remove the need for teachers to make professional decisions. In fact, information from the analysis simply adds new knowledge and understanding to a school’s collective professional experience.

The analysis itself often confirms a problem without suggesting a solution.

A teacher asked: Have my students not achieved a particular history standard because they have poor formal writing skills, rather than poor history knowledge?

They analysed assessment results across other subjects and decided the answer was ‘Yes’.

Now the teacher needs to think about how to improve students’ writing skills.

Another example:

A school asked: Do any particular groups of year 11 students attend less regularly than average for the whole cohort?

The analysis identified two groups. Now the school needs to think about how to deal with irregular attendance for each group.

What schools decide to do as result of the information they get from the analysis is guided by professional experience.

A school looked for factors related to poor student performance in formal writing.

The analysis suggested that poor homework habits had a significant impact on student writing. They could take action to improve homework habits – but they’ve tried that before and the success rate was low. In any case, teachers decided they had more control over other factors.

Teachers made some professional judgments. They decided that students who do little homework actually just don’t write enough. Poor performance in writing was not really about homework, but about the total amount of writing students do. The real need was to get students to write more often. They started to look at factors like how much time they gave students to write in class.

Information and professional judgment might suggest a number of options for action. How do you decide which action to choose?

In planning an intervention schools need to consider factors such as these:

Control What aspects of the situation do you have most control over? Should you run a limited pilot rather than a full scale intervention, so you can have more control?
Impact What can you do that is most likely to have the desired impact? Do you play it safe and intervene only where you are sure you can make a major difference?
Resources What will you need in terms of time, money and people? What do you already have? Will you be able to get the other resources needed? What other activities could be affected if you divert resources to this project?

Other factors to consider when you are planning an intervention:

  • Is this actually a major change to policy that could have far-reaching consequences – or a more limited procedural change?
  • What other changes are being proposed in this area about the same time?
  • How soon can you make this change?
  • How will you achieve wide buy-in?
  • What time and resources will you need?
  • Who will coordinate and monitor implementation?
  • Is this an incremental change? Or are you just tweaking how you do things?
  • How will you fit the change into your regular work?
  • When can you start the intervention?
  • Will you need extra resources?
  • How will this change affect other things you do?
  • How will you monitor implementation?

Timing is all. You are carrying out this action to see what impact it has. If your evaluation of the impact is to be meaningful, when you do it could be crucial.

  • How long should you run the intervention before you evaluate it?
  • When is the best time of the year to start (and finish) in terms of measuring changes in student achievement?
  • How much preparation time will you need to get maximum benefit?

You need to plan for evaluation. You are carrying out this action to see what impact it has on student achievement. So you need to decide in advance exactly how you’ll know how successful the intervention has been.

To do this you will need valid and reliable baseline data. The baseline evidence you need for evaluation might be different from the data you analysed earlier in this project.

  • What evidence do you need to collect before you start the intervention?
  • Do you need to collect evidence along the way, or just at the end of the intervention?
  • How can you be sure that any assessment at the end of the process will be comparable with assessment at the outset?
  • How will you monitor any unintended effects?

Don’t forget evidence such as timetables, student opinions, teacher observations …