Smart Data in the Classroom

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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Why do so many teachers cite data as the biggest contributor to their increased workload?

… over two-fifths of teachers spend more time administering pupil assessments than actually interpreting the data. Yet, a staggering proportion of teachers – 95% – think that data has a place in the classroom.

In this webinar, I ask Sue Thompson, Senior Publisher at GL Assessment, questions about their assessment tools and analysis of 1,000s of schools, to provide insight and advice on how teachers can get the most from data in their classroom. (Source)

Smart Data in the classroom webinar – 4th May 2016

GL Assessment Smart Data Ross McGill @TeacherToolkit Sue Thompson Mark Cooper

(left to right: Mark Cooper, Ross McGill (@TeacherToolkit) and Sue Thompson Mark)

In a recent survey, Greg Watson, Chief Executive of GL Assessment said: “our obsession with data is crippling education not enhancing it.”

53% of 44,000 teachers blamed data. Yet as our survey makes clear teachers are not anti-data. Indeed, an overwhelming majority, 95%, think data has a place in the classroom.

Why the discrepancy?

“Why do so many teachers cite data as the biggest contributor to their increased workload” says Watson.


Capture2Working in schools, we all have first hand experience of data collection for leadership teams and for impending inspections. Data for tracking, interventions and for targeting students who are under-performing.


Sadly, much of the information is left with leadership, and little feedback shared back to the classroom teacher, leaves teachers left out of the loop in desperate need of time to analyse, interpret and action.


The answer must be that too much of the data being used in schools is being misapplied or is pointless, while a lot of it isn’t data at all but subjective assessments unrelated to other objective information.

In short, there is far too much bad data in schools and not enough good or ‘smart’ data.


Workload Reports:

We only need to refer to the recent summary from the Data Management Review Group for excellent recommendations for schools, school leaders and in particular, teachers:


  • Record data accurately and ensure it is correct first time.
  • If you do not understand why data is being collected, ask. Suggest alternative sources of data or processes if you think better ones exist.

Some 43% of teachers say they spend 60% or more of the time administering assessment rather than interpreting what it means for individual students.


Do’s and Don’ts:

Scott Heyhoe, GL Assessment’s Director of Education, explains how teachers can get the most from assessments.

  1. Do make sure you understand what you are measuring and what you are not.
  2. Do have a consistent and effective plan.
  3. Do be open with students.
  4. Do trust your judgement as a teacher.
  5. Do remember to share the information with parents.

and the don’ts.

  1. Where possible, don’t mark high stakes assessments yourselves.
  2. Don’t get hung up on small differences in student performance.
  3. Don’t mistake similar standardised scores in different years for a lack of improvement.
  4. Don’t dismiss the idea of standardised assessments just because they aren’t appropriate for every child.
  5. Don’t over assess.


You can download GL Assessment’s Smart Data paper.

GL Assessment Smart Data


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One thought on “Smart Data in the Classroom

  1. Hi, I’m Liene from Edurio – a London based EdTech startup that is building a comprehensive toolkit to help schools manage feedback data from students, teachers and parents.

    Edurio gives teachers and school leaders actionable and easy to interpret results, not just data – it allows comparing feedback from different classes or subjects, or deep diving into the results for different groups of students. The schools can benchmark their performance against similar schools and track their progress over time. We are currently working with leading text analytics providers to be the first to offer trend assessment in open text survey responses.

    Currently schools can spend up to 4 weeks of administration time setting up, conducting and analysing a single feedback survey – we remove 95% of the time and effort, while giving valuable results for the school network, school leaders and teachers. Insightful results are immediately available in a web browser, in PDF reports or Excel extracts.

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