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Inside Teaching : October 2010
Inside Teaching | October 2010 CURRICULUM & ASSESSMENT 34 NAPLAN scores, VELS levels and attendance figures generated by roll-marking software. All students at our school have a personal learning plan, with which they set goals and targets for their own learning. An important step in doing that is to identify their current standard of achievement by referring to the data held in the spreadsheets. By consulting the various spreadsheets, students share the process of analysing their own progress and deciding where their learning should go next. At team meetings we also use student achievement data to decide on the course structure and lesson content. Analysing student performance A new development in some Victorian regions has been the Student Performance Analyser (SPA), a commercial educational tool developed by Philip Holmes-Smith and currently being used by northern metropolitan schools. This tool uses data from the NAPLAN, teacher VELS judgements and on-demand testing to compile personalised profiles on each student. Holmes-Smith’s website has a demo version of the SPA where you can get a feel for the way the data is used and presented. It would be a whole-school decision to buy this software, but even the demo website gives teachers, especially those who work in teams, insights into how to use data intelligently. You still might have problems like no time in fourth term and the gap between the May test and the September results, but this is where the SPA offers something new – by adapting Lev Vygotsky’s concept of the zone of proximal development to help teachers to analyse and use the data. As Figure 3, from the SPA demo, shows, most students have answered the first 12 items correctly – the whole class grasps the concepts tested by those items – but many students have not correctly answered the last six or so items – they may be conceptually too advanced for most kids at this stage of their development. The middle range of items reveals a mix of correct and incorrect answers – this is likely to be the teaching zone, where concepts and skills are accessible and developmentally appropriate, but need further elaboration and explanation. Using the item analysis report downloaded from the NAPLAN Data Service we can then identify the content of this proximal zone and devise lessons to engage our students in clearer exploration and instruction, rather than wasting time on content they already know or bamboozling them with concepts for which they’re not ready. Approaching the data in this way, whether with the SPA or BY CONSULTING THE VARIOUS SPREADSHEETS, STUDENTS SHARE THE PROCESS OF ANALYSING THEIR OWN PROGRESS AND DECIDING WHERE THEIR LEARNING SHOULD GO NEXT.