Use of Data in Independent Schools

By 23/03/2011PGCE, POT 2, Teaching

Yesterday I attended a training session on how KES use data in the school to monitor and track pupils’ ability.

When pupils enter the school at year 7 there are up to 100 new pupils and in order to assess what ability level they are. The test is by a Durham company called MidYis which basically assess pupils’ inelegance and ability in various areas such as English and maths. Apparently the testing is helpful to indicate and show the more able and less able pupils at the top and bottom end of the spectrum. The top students score about 140 points and the bottom students score around 70 points. The problem they find is that the correlation on a graph on what they are achieving and what they should achieve is quite broad as they are at the top end of the spectrum of the ability when you compare against the national averages. KES find it important to compare their results against other Independent schools as they are way above average when you look at national averages. Most of the pupils are strong and capable which makes it hard to distinguish between the two when it comes to the middle of the road cohort. The main purpose of this test not for pupils but to track how certain departments are doing when they take the MidYis in year 7 compared to the MidYis results in year 9. Each testing session costs £500 per year group.

KES find their own in house results more useful when it comes to tracking pupils’ progress in a statistical manner. They use their SIMS system to set targets based on 3 years of previous results and then plotting graphs with what they should be achieving based on what they are achieving. This basically shows how departments are doing and if they are under or over achieving. It is sometimes hard to use it as gospel as exam years change particularly in subjects like English literature.

The main point that is important here is that according to KES they don’t want to let the data and results that are mathematically calculated dictate how well their pupils are doing and they only use the results from the SIMS and exam results as an avenue in to show pupils where they are at and what they could be achieving. It is great to see that that they are trying to steer away from being completely data driven.

From my point of view it is really interesting to see how this statistical data changes between independent schools and maintained schools and I can personally see the difference when teaching in a academically selective school as the pupils are more able and you need to set work at a higher level to stretch and expand their ability. I have seen in comparison to Norton Hill School that the ability is lower and I have had to adjust my teaching to cater for these pupils. This is not a problem or an issue but just something that I have been learning particularly when it comes to differentiation in the classroom.