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Summary of important issues

  • A single assessment result is just a snapshot in time, so a range of approaches is necessary in order to have a comprehensive picture of what a student’s unique progress looks like. While a result can be indicative of levels of achievement, it can be affected by variables to do with timing, administration, validity, student health and other factors. Also see Making an overall teacher judgment.
  • It is essential that the data with which you are working is "clean". This means that it is consistent, accurate and complete. You should be alert to any anomalies, either within the numerical data itself or the demographic information attached to it. Making sure that data is clean before starting to work with it will help prevent misinterpretations, or having to repeat the process if problems are discovered.
  • Always check assessment data for inconsistent results. If something in the data is unexpected, it needs to be investigated. It may just be a small problem, but may also indicate a widespread problems within the assessment or the data gathering itself.
  • Data needs to be disaggregated to get to the core of what is needed in the classroom. A useful expression is "mining the data". The deeper and more personalised the analysis of data, the better the teaching and learning goals that can be set from it.
  • You should always share assessment results with students. They are the prime owners of their assessment results; they need the information to be able to determine for themselves where they are with their learning and to set goals related to their own learning. This same principle applies at every level of the education enterprise. Achievement data needs to be shared, discussed and ‘owned’ by principals, middle leaders and classroom teachers alike.

Privacy and data sharing and collection

Your school should have policies and systems regarding the collection and sharing of data to ensure that information is available to enhance teaching and learning in a way that does not compromise students' privacy.