THE USE OF DATA IN SCHOOLS
Is big brother watching teachers or is it really all about pupil performance?
There have been significant improvements in the last ten to fifteen years in the quality and amount of data available on pupils performance in our schools , which is integral to the schools accountability framework.
However, Teachers worry that the use of data in schools may be more about judging them and their performance than it is about measuring pupils achievement and progress, according to new research
. The findings in the report ‘Dictatorship and Data Democracy‘ from CfBT Education Trust (October 2010) suggest that there is a conflict between how data is currently used and how teachers think it should be used. More than 800 secondary-school teachers were interviewed for the survey about their perceptions of data use in schools. Participants were drawn from the full range of teaching experience, level of responsibility and subject backgrounds, and from a range of schools. The current focus is thought to be on external drivers rather than improving pupil performance. Tension is also inherent in the fact that the same data is used for both improvement/evaluation and accountability/monitoring purposes. However, that said, the teachers surveyed generally welcomed the use of pupil performance data in schools, with 95 per cent of respondents using data in a practical way to inform teaching and management .Maths, English and science teachers are the most confident in their data skills, according to the survey.
Tony McAleavy, the education director of the CfBT Education Trust, commenting on the report in the Times (Public Sector-7 October) wrote ‘ … what is important is that the role of data and targets in the public sector is in line with the concerns and culture of the people working within the sector. Without getting the majority of practitioners on board, the data culture will not be effective. If we can resolve this conflict between how teachers believe they can best use data and how it is used at present by politicians and policymakers, then schools can become much more efficient, having a greater direct impact on pupils’ learning.’
The full report ‘Data Dictatorship and Data Democracy: Understanding Professional attitudes to the use of Pupil Performance Data in English Secondary Schools’ Anthony Kelly Christopher Downey Willeke Rietdijk;(University of Southampton) is available to download from CfBT’s website: http://www.cfbt.com.