FEATURE: ASSESSMENT TRACKING Home Pupils Results Reports Parents Office Admin Help

Who’s afraid of the big, bad, Tracker?


ata dominates school life these days, but how can overworked teachers maintain

a sensible relationship with it? Pupil Asset’s Steph Reddington explains how the company’s Tracker is helping schools reduce workload, carry out gap analysis, set targets and report effectively.

Following his speech at the BETT Show in 2019 on how advances in technology can be harnessed effectively, Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, went on to launch a new EdTech strategy at the Schools and Academies Show, in April. Championing technology as ‘one of the single most important elements in the educational arsenal’, he also acknowledged that technology in the education sector can sometimes increase workload, particularly around collecting data and the additional burden this can put on teachers. Couple this with findings from the Teacher

Workload Advisory Group: ‘Making Data Work’, which stresses how the ‘overproduction and misuse of pupil attainment information can cause unnecessary and unsustainable workload’, and you can see why assessment tracking software has recently come under scrutiny. It is not uncommon on Social Media to see

teachers complain about being made to tick off long lists of curriculum objectives for no purpose other than for a system to automatically generate a termly, summative grade. Worse still, others cite such data being used for accountability purposes - as a measure of performance. In these cases, it is easy to understand why tracking software is getting a bad name. But what about schools who are using the

software effectively? Schools who have carefully designed curriculums which don’t involve 100s of objectives and that don’t require teachers to be inputting repeatedly for the sake of it? Teachers need to be able to understand how

pupils are doing, to plan for future instruction and to provide responsive teaching. Of course, there are many methods for doing this, but what if quickly inputting such data into a tracker can help reduce workload in other ways?

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The following examples showcase how some

schools are using Pupil Asset’s Tracker effectively for planning, gap analysis, target setting and reporting - further areas which can add to staff workload.

Lesson Planning Having designed their own curriculums, it is also possible for schools to provide their own exemplifications of the skills that are to be taught. This can be in the form of progressive steps and/or learning advice to support teachers with deepening pupils’ understanding or to provide recommendations on how to help pupils who have not understood a concept. In some cases, schools have started to add links

to actual lesson plans from popular websites, saving teachers hours of time searching for relevant activities for pupils.

Summarising Achievements Eliminating the need for separate medium- term planning, many teachers use the Achievement Summary to quickly determine which curriculum areas need to be revisited, either as a whole class or as follow up work for individuals. Clicking on the numbers presented shows pupil

names, providing teachers with valuable information for differentiated lesson plans. Filtering to specific groups/cohorts allows for targeted interventions to be planned.

Achievement List Providing a full list of individual pupils’ achievements or a customised list of the different stages, the Achievement List is currently used in a number of ways. Some schools choose to print this list to share with parents as interim reports. Others opt to use it to inform end of year reporting where statements can be inserted into individual’s reports. PA MIS customers often choose to share this information automatically with parents/carers via the PA Parent App.

Small Step Progression Many of our specialist provisions rely on progression being monitored in much smaller

34 June 2019

steps than is often achievable with summative grades alone. Being able to analyse formative assessment data provides our Alternative Provisions and SEN schools with a basis for discussions on pupil progress - not in terms of grades or best fit descriptors, but in terms of the number of skills achieved and students’ depth of understanding. Of course, there will be some that argue that

this granular level of data needn't be collected, especially when examining workload; however, with frameworks being fully customisable, objectives can be reduced to a smaller number of key performance indicators. Also, with features such as a Teacher App for quick collection of evidence and/or recording, it needn’t become onerous. That said, it’s not for everyone, and school

leaders should be mindful of whether such practice is being implemented as a supportive tool for teachers to facilitate pupil learning or for ulterior motives such as for accountability and compliance. Teachers regularly collect attainment information, every day in their classrooms, via mark-books or on lesson plans - doing it electronically is just an alternative method. School leaders need to understand the limitations of such data in assessing the quality of teaching and overall school performance and encourage the use of tracking software to optimise and enhance existing practices. When comparing tracking software, it is

important for schools to consider how the recording of attainment data can be utilised. Only then will the technology have a positive impact on teaching and serve as a tool to reduce workload. If your tracker requires 100s of boxes to be ticked on a half termly basis with very little consideration for what else this information can be used for, perhaps it is time to consider a new one.

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