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Consider the evidence: What is meant by "data and other evidence"


All schools have access to a lot of numerical data about student achievement and student behaviour – test results, attendance patterns, etc. But schools have access to a lot more information than what is normally thought of as data. Some of this evidence, like student opinions and teacher observations, can’t be easily recorded and processed in the way we analyse numerical data. So it’s best called "evidence".

The term "evidence" is used here in the same way that it’s used in courts of law and in standards based assessment.


Any facts, circumstances or perceptions that can be used as an input for an analysis or decision. For example: how classes are compiled, how classes are allocated to teachers, test results, teachers’ observations, attendance data, portfolios of work, student opinions.

Data is just one form of evidence.


Known facts or measurements, probably expressed in some systematic or symbolic way, most often as numbers. For example: assessment results, attendance, gender, and ethnicity statistics.

For some, this will be quite a narrow definition of data. The main point is that if schools want to improve student achievement they can look at a lot more than what some traditionally think of as data.

In this Evidence-driven eating scenario, some factors are data, and some are other evidence. How much money you have, how far you need to go to buy food and how much time you have are data. What you feel like eating, what you’ll be having for dinner, and where you’re going to eat are other evidence. What your diet allows could be data or other evidence, depending on how it is expressed.

A real example:

Sarah had been known as a "busy" girl at school. She played lots of sport, was fully involved in field trips, etc. She was quite a capable student but a bit inclined to leave work uncompleted.

Sarah’s geography teacher reported that Sarah was not getting her assessment work in on time and had pulled out of the geography field trip. The NCEA coordinator also put a note through to the assistant principal in charge of year 13 students explaining that Sarah had not completed her assessments in two other subjects.

On checking Sarah’s file, the assistant principal discovered that Sarah had a large amount of outstanding fees owing.

When the year 13 coordinator spoke with Sarah there were tears as she explained how she had to work many hours after school and evenings to make ends meet. Mum and Dad had just been through a bitter separation and Dad was refusing to give Mum or the girls any money. Completing school work out of class was the least of Sarah's worries. She didn’t have time to complete her homework and she didn’t have the money to go on the field trip.

By connecting different types of data and other evidence, staff were able to identify a core issue and help the student towards a solution.

Note: This resource treats the word "data" as a plural noun – hence "data are …". The resource uses terms commonly used in schools and the usage and meaning intended is that generally applied in educational circles. The Terminology section provides a discussion of terms used in this resource.