Data analysis the easy way?

The blog by ICTEvangelist discusses school data and the need to ensure data is analysed in such a way as to make sense of what you are looking at. I couldn’t agree more and as a Head of Science data analysis has ranged considerably over the last few years from my own Excel spreadsheets with little guidance, Fischer Family Trust printouts (reams), 4Matrix which never seemed to work for Science as the various entries confused either it or, more likely, me.   In my previous post an in-house data manager was appointed who would respond to requests from one and all – if you wanted to know how many boys on Free School Meals (FSM) were targeted a grade C, had attendance over 80% and achieved a grade C then that information was provided the same day. Now that’s spoilt!

fischer_ks2_value B0IlVyaIEAABD1e.png-large

Clearly, data requires analysis and senior, middle leaders and class teachers need to respond to the findings whether they be positive or not. But the danger is paralysis by analysis and often there is just so much information that responding in a meaningful and useful way can be difficult.

The method I like to use may seem too simple, which is what I initially thought when Steve Garnett delivered this on his course (How to be an Outstanding Subject Leader, which I highly recommend), but I have since shared this with other middle and senior leaders and it has been well received, and I still use it four years later.

This is a great activity in a subject meeting: Staff are provided with a blank version of this graph – they then plot the data for an examination class – target vs actual grade. They can use initials to identify students, use different symbols for gender, and annotate for FSM if required. Points on the line are on target, below the line below target, and above the line above target.

class evaluation

Staff then identify pockets of underachievement, whether it be lack of A*/A, or girls / boys missing targets for example, for their own classes and as a department common issues or themes become apparent. Writing a team improvement plan then develops very easily, from the data, and staff in my experience have more ownership over what needs to be done.

Clearly, this is not a technique to be used beyond a single class analysis as it gets to busy for a whole year group but is a useful and possibly more simple method to look at your class results. I keep meaning to setup a spreadsheet to produce the graph for me – if I do then I will place a copy here.