At this time of year I’m remembering the questions we used to have in our school about the PATs - ‘Term 4 is coming up - what week shall we do the PATs in?’ ‘Have we got enough Test 3s for the Year 5s?’ ‘When’s the BOT report due - we need to have it sorted by then?’. You know those conversations I’m sure.
Improving learning means improving teaching - how can you use the data you gather for a teaching inquiry to improve teaching? After all, even though you may have a lot of teaching going on in your school, education is about learning and if there is no learning going on then there is no education.
As Term 3 starts, you are probably getting ready to start gathering student achievement data. Not only will you want to use this data to measure the impact of the changes to teaching and learning you’ve made this year, but you may also want it to become the basis for your next focused inquiry.
When I was a principal I confess we only ever assessed using the recommended test for each year group and we measured progress by the stanine. We had no idea the tests were designed to give teachers rich, descriptive information about the level of the curriculum each student is working in, and, what their next steps should be.
I was working with a school recently and left them feeling good about using STAR because they had found out about a whole lot of new ways to use the data. As one teacher said, ‘You don’t know what you don’t know’. They suggested I get this information out there, so here goes.
Question #1: Did you know you can choose any test for any child?
Teachers making decisions about their students’ achievements based on a range of sources of evidence is the cornerstone of an effective cycle of inquiry in any school. The evidence-based cycle of inquiry is the engine that drives improvement to teaching and learning in classrooms and in school-wide initiatives (Timperley et al, 2010). Research says this is how you make a difference.
On TKI Assessment Online, under ‘New Zealand's Approach to National Standards’, one of the reasons outlined for the introduction of the National Standards is to "affirm your ( the teacher) role as the professional who knows the most about your students’ achievement rather than relying on national tests."