Collecting and using school data
Former Principal Chris Day provides insights into his experiences with school data and its effective use. See also the “Using data” presentation Chris made to He Kākano participants at a recent wānanga.
Schools collect data ad infinitum sometimes, they have lots and lots of data. From there there’s very little information coming from it, in my view, to inform teaching practice, programme design and ultimately student achievement. So there’s a big gap between collecting the data and doing something really useful with it.
A lot of it is to do with programme design and the method of teaching and quite often that is quite a difficult discussion to have with a teacher, to say this data’s indicated that in your particular class students, Māori students, are not performing as well as they are in other classes. And that’s where I think that the difficulty is, people feel possibly a bit threatened and don’t realise their teaching needs to change in order for achievement to change. Secondary schools are really quite complex organisations and you need to have an intervention or some sort of support at the level of the principal or the leadership team, you need to have support at the pedagogical or at the teaching ‘talk-face’, if you like, and also using the data in order to inform what you’re doing. And it could mean making some quite dramatic changes, it could mean making some subtle changes, but I think the key issue was, what happens in the classroom, in terms of the relationships between the students and teachers, was pivotal in getting that shift in achievement.
The underlying values in a Te Kotahitanga or He Kākano school have got to be clearly articulated and ‘owned’, if you like, by all the stake holders – the board, the principal leadership team, the staff and the students, and more importantly, I guess, the community, to say this is what this school is all about.