Effective use of data in schools
In this section, we will explore how to use data in schools effectively. We will also introduce a step-by-step model that can guide you and your school team to collaboratively improve teaching and learning through evidence-based analysis.
Data for success in schools
In order to effectively use data, all schools should have a school administration system. The National Education Information Policy (NEIP) does not dictate that schools use South African School Administration Management System (SA-SAMS), but it is commonly used. This course will therefore reference SA-SAMS. However, the principles are generally applicable directly to improving emergent and early grade reading instruction.
Click here if you would like to learn more about using SA-SAMS.
Based on SA-SAMS, there are various categories of data that should be recorded by schools. Among them are:
- Learner and parent information
- Curriculum-related data, such as managing school-based assessment programmes and results
In this module, the focus is on curriculum-related data as it relates to the Foundation Phase Language Assessment for Learning and Assessment of Learning.
According to the Policy on the South African Standard for Principalship (2015), managing the quality of teaching and learning is one of the key areas of school leadership. The policy further highlights instructional leadership as one of the five main kinds of school leadership. There are several elements of instructional leadership that the policy outlines. Among them is the development and implementation of an instructional leadership framework that is data-driven, research-based, and aligned with the national curriculum.
Data-driven decision making in instructional leadership
Jimerson and Wayman cited in Marishane (2015) note that “data” are broadly defined as any pieces of information that assist educators to gain better knowledge about their learners. The data may come from a qualitative (descriptive) or quantitative (numerical) source of information about the school and instructional improvement. The information has been purposefully and systematically collected, organised, and analysed.
Marishiane (2011) argues that schools are complex organisations with multiple data at their disposal. Of particular interest in this module is the data from assessment. There are two types of assessment that a teacher is supposed to carry out:
Click on the tabs below to learn more about the two types of assessment.
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Click on the attachment below to download a Subject Improvement Plan template.
The collection of data should not only be seen as an administrative function or for the sake of compliance. The use of data, particularly assessment data, is a curriculum management function. Data needs to be processed, analysed, organised, and presented to make it meaningful or useful information which provides the knowledge necessary to use in making good decisions by the teachers and instructional leaders.
I used to think that data collection is a mundane administration task, but I recently realised that using data (particularly assessment data) is a curriculum management function. I have learnt that I need data so that I can make important decisions as a school leader.
The Data Wise Approach
In this module, the Data Wise Approach, developed by Harvard University, is used to provide a hands-on and step-by-step guide to using assessment results to improve teaching and learning. The Approach is advocated by the Department of Basic Education (2018). It is divided into three phases, and each of the phases consists of a number of steps, as shown below.
Click on the dots to explore the three phases and the steps within them.
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Click on the attachment below to download a graphic that summarises the three phases of the Data Wise Approach.
The video below goes into more detail about the Data Wise Approach.
Before we explore each phase of the Data Wise Approach in the rest of this module, take a moment to check your knowledge of what happens in each phase.
Drag and drop the description at the top to the correct phase.
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The rest of this module delves into each of these phases and the steps that fall under them. We will start by looking at Phase 1 in the next section.