Teachers matter more to student achievement than any other aspect of schooling. Many factors contribute to a student’s academic performance, including individual characteristics and family and neighbourhood experiences. But research suggests that, among school-related factors, teachers matter most. When it comes to student performance on reading and math tests, a teacher is estimated to have two to three times the impact of any other school factor, including services, facilities, and even leadership.
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but in education, information speaks volumes. Data analysis can provide a snapshot of what students know, what they should know, and what can be done to meet their academic needs. With appropriate analysis and interpretation of data, educators can make informed decisions that positively affect student outcomes.
Presentation by John Hattie: Maximising the dividend of professional learning
Steps for designing a diagnostic
Now that we have discussed why diagnostics are useful and when they are suitable, let’s get started on how to design an effective diagnostic assessment. We have come up with five simple steps:
- Define your goal
- Identify impact on course design
- Assess learning objectives
- Determine question format
- Develop a message to learners
Diagnostic assessment is a hot topic at the moment. There are many questions about designing, management and delivery of this assessment. We have to consider why we are doing these assessment and how we are using them to support our students. I am sure it will be a topic we will need to cover after this full school review. I believe it is something we will need to develop together.
The package containing data from last spring’s mandatory state exam landed with a thud on principal Roger Bolton’s desk. The local newspaper had already published an article listing Franklin High as a school “in need of improvement.” Now this package from the state offered the gory details. Roger had five years of packages like this one, sharing shelf space with binders and boxes filled with results from the other assessments required by the district and state. The sheer mass of paper was overwhelming. Roger wanted to believe that there was something his faculty could learn from all these numbers that would help them increase student learning. But he didn’t know where to start.
School leaders across the nation share Roger’s frustration. The barriers to constructive, regular use of student assessment data to improve instruction can seem insurmountable. There is just so much data. Where do you start? How do you make time for the work? How do you build your faculty’s skill in interpreting data sensibly? How do you build a culture that focuses on improvement, not blame? How do you maintain momentum in the face of all the other demands at your school?