The debate surrounding how to track in-year progress at both schools and MATs is constantly evolving. Since the removal of levels, schools and trusts have been struggling to find a replacement to ensure consistency and comparability in measuring assessment data. A number of different models are unfolding - from the promotion of standardised assessments by James Pembroke and others, to using teacher judgements in progress trackers, and aggregating up to the MAT level.
We thought we’d give you our two pence on which methods have been successful within the trusts and schools we work with:
1. Flexible tracking approach for each school with periodic standardised assessments, which works well when:
The benefit of this is that schools are given the ability to meet the individual needs of their students. Particularly across different geographical areas and with the presence of localised challenges (high EAL, feeder schools to local grammar schools etc.), where a ‘one size fits all’ approach is unlikely to work.
The challenge of this approach at a trust level is the comparability of assessment data. If each school is doing something slightly different, it becomes very difficult to aggregate results up to the trust level.
A solution to this problem, which is gaining some traction, is the use of standardised tests (Rising Stars, GL Assessments etc.) to monitor and compare student achievement. These types of tests give central teams a comparable way of viewing student achievement, providing greater insight into which local approaches are working well and which aren't, opening up opportunities for school to school collaboration across the trust.
2. Standardised curriculum and/or teacher-based assessment, which works well when:
The benefits of this are that it ensures consistency across the trust (although it can take a while to get up and running, due to the need for exemplar materials and moderation networks) and allows the trust central team to quickly identify which schools are a potential cause for concern and require additional assistance (opening up opportunities for school to school collaboration).
The challenge with this approach is the lack of local variation offered when the comparability of data is key at the trust level. Some trusts offset this by allowing schools to use their own approach to the curriculum, whilst submitting teacher judgements in the trust format.
Arbor MIS for schools and MATs helps school tailor assessment to their own needs through one of three frameworks for assessment (based on curriculum tracking, summative tracking or a blend of the two). We are also working with MATs to improve how central teams access and report on assessment data across the trust.
Our Group MIS is designed to help trusts collect and centralise data points, which are typically difficult to collect, such as live attendance, behaviour, summative assessment and ASP data from each school. In our previous blog post on the evolution of MAT infrastructures, we explored how trusts are increasingly taking advantage of centralised workflows in the same way many businesses do. Automating workflows has become commonplace in the private sector (we use plenty of automation tools at Arbor to increase the efficiency of our internal operations) as businesses are recognising that technology can minimise the burden of repetitive or laborious tasks, a challenge faced by many in the education sector. As budgets become increasingly squeezed over the next 5 years, MATs will require more than dashboards and data visualisation, as their focus will have to shift from identification to action. We’ve built this thinking into our MAT MIS, allowing trusts to operate with the same efficiency as their private sector counterparts.
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