Diary of an NQT: Getting my head around data

Written by: Diary of an NQT | Published:
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Our NQT diarist used to be intimidated by the idea of data analysis, but he is slowly getting to grips with this side of teaching…

When I began my NQT year, I was intimidated by the idea of analysing my students’ assessment data.

During my ITT year, I had marked a lot of formal assessments, but the data analysis was normally carried out by the host teachers. As a result, I did not feel confident in my abilities to carry out this crucial element of the job, and I highlighted this as an area for professional development when I started my first teaching post.

As the academic year’s final assessment cycle approaches, I am able to reflect on how much I have learnt about data analysis in a short space of time. I have developed my ability to both input and accurately read the data pertaining to my students’ progress, and this has had an impact on my teaching in myriad ways.

My school has strict policies around the recording of data and we are expected to carry out our analysis promptly after each assessment cycle. This benefits everyone, as we are able to use our students’ latest test results to improve their attainment in a meaningful way.

As well as highlighting those that are making good or expected progress, the systems that my school uses allow me to clearly identify those students who are not achieving their potential. This is invaluable as it forces me to reflect on my in-class practice and develop new strategies for working with certain students.

As soon as a class’s assessments have been marked, my first task is to input the data into the management information system. By inputting the assessment data into the programme, teachers are given a clear view of how their class – and each individual – is progressing, as it provides a colour-coordinated spreadsheet highlighting those students who are not on track to meet their target grade.

The system also allows us to put in “next step” comments, telling students what they need to focus on to improve further. Once the raw data has been put into the system, we then use an online analytics programme to give us a clearer view.

The programme is not the most user-friendly and it takes time to get your head around how it works. However, after using it many times throughout the year, I have found it to be far more intuitive than I first thought.

The programme is able to break down a class’s data into various categories, allowing me to separately track the progress of male and female students, as well as those with additional needs. It is particularly useful in highlighting the progress of students on the SEND and Pupil Premium registers. This is absolutely crucial, as the school is committed to closing the progress gap between these students and their peers. This is a valuable tool when identifying areas of concern.

Once the data has been analysed, we must then transfer it into our Active Learning Folders, which must be close to hand at all times in the classroom, as well as being available to any senior colleagues who enter our lessons.

Our “ALFs” also contain details of the interventions that we have put in place to help students who are falling behind, providing tangible evidence of the work we are doing to ensure all students make optimum progress.

I would urge current ITT students to take the time to investigate data analysis during your training. While it may seem daunting, it is a vital part of the job. Although it can be laborious, it is very satisfying to complete the analysis of an assessment cycle and you will find that it informs almost every aspect of your practice as a teacher.

  • Our NQT diarist this year is a teacher of history at a comprehensive school in the North of England.


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