My previous two posts have led me to this point relating to what information schools share at each data point. Parents, teachers and students all have different priorities when it comes to the information that is shared with them. My aim is to unpick why we communicate certain pieces of information and whether or not we communicate the most important pieces of information.
As a parent of two children, I can understand why parents are so keen to ascertain what specific grade or level their child is working at. They may be keen to compare it with any targets set or they may want to know how the grade or level compares with other students and subjects. The more competitive parents may want affirmation that their child is one of the top performing students. The big question here is, if the grade is the main priority for parents, how much do parents value information about what their child actually can and can’t do? I would hazard a guess that if teachers started by talking about a child’s strengths and areas for development parents would be thinking this is interesting but what grade are they working at?
The cynical side of me would say that teachers are mindful of PM targets and so information about the performance of groups as a whole is important. Again trying to shift the mindset, the most useful information to teachers is that which relates to the strengths and areas for development of the individuals within our groups as it is this information which will allow us to adapt our teaching.
In an earlier conversation with @Concordmoose, she informed me that the results of a student voice survey revealed that students want grades they can trust as well as information that will help them improve. The same can be said for the students in my school.
Although students want feedback on what they need to improve, the grade/level still seems to be the priority to them. Where grades are the most important piece of information for both students and parents, we face a constant battle in articulating that the grades/level are simply a result and that what we should actually be focussing on are the individual areas for development which could relate to particular topics or specific skills that need refining. Primary schools may well be better at this than secondary schools with regards to the specific feedback they give to parents. Equally, many secondary schools may have refined the way they report to parents to give them more information than the predicted grades and attitude to learning. At my school, there is still work to be done on this.
This leads me to two key questions: 1. Is there a way in which schools can report information that is useful to all stakeholders? 2. Should schools report information based on the needs of all stakeholders?
One solution to the first question would be to apply a PLC methodology to summative tests in order to give both a grade and forensic feedback on areas of strength and areas for development. I have included an example of this below. With regards to the second question, the honest answer is that I don’t know and I would welcome feedback on this. What I am absolutely sure of is that every effort should be made to shift the focus from specific grades/levels to what students can actually do and what they need to do better.