Since the introduction of the 2014 National Curriculum and the removal of levels, tracking has been somewhat a minefield.
I’ve tried to carve out a path for our school, convinced that recreating levels was not the way forward. Attainment was pretty straight forward. Progress not so much.
Use standardised tests in Reading and Maths. Use Comparative Judgements in Writing. Teacher assessment checks all 3, more so in Writing. It’s not perfect but I think it’s the best we’ve got. It doesn’t diminish teacher’s professionalism, instead it gives them the tools to make informed decisions.
Simple. Don’t measure progress. Leave that for national tests — we don’t need manufactured scores. For tracking purposes, what you ideally need to know is where each child is, in relation to the as-yet-unknown end of Key Stage 2 boundaries they will face. And as they are as-yet-unknown, the best you can do is monitor their progress against each year group’s National Curriculum objectives.
2 tools. The first is to support our Governors and comes with a big flashing sign saying ‘this should only be used as a guide’. Progress Tables: They show the class average standardised scores for each term. This gives stakeholders an idea about performance. Granted, you could have a couple of real high fliers with half the class just off track. Much worse than all those same children all being just on track. That’s why you only use it as a guide. The second tool is the behemoth. Progress Matrices: These allow you to pick 2 points in time and see how individual or groups of children have attained over time. What more do you need?!
At first we made our own progress matrices. That took AGES. Then I started to look into Insight Tracking. They have a couple of different offerings. We plumped for ‘Insight Essentials’ which is the simpler version that doesn’t include individual objective assessing. With the workload review and Ofsted no longer looking at internal data the same way, why would we waste time entering that kind of data into a tracking system the way we had done previously? What impact will it give us? None. Look at books, talk to children, do some test analysis. Nothing more.
Some might say, why pay for a tracking system at all? Fair enough. Some tiny schools might not need to, but purely based on the amount of time it took to manually create our original progress matrices, I think it is money well spent a hundred times over!
So what makes Insight our chosen provider? Let’s make this simple:
1: Meaningful and useful statistical attainment data. This image shows a class’ data based on standardised tests and comparative judgements. I could just have easily generated it using teacher judgements.
This is a group breakdown of the Reading bar above.
2: Progress Matrices. This image shows a matrix without individual names. You can view those with 1 click. Our first port of call for KS2 children is to compare the End of KS1 tests with ‘now’. For KS1 children, we compare EYFS with ‘now’. Then we can dig deeper with (again) just a couple of clicks by choosing a previous term rather than end of KS1, or the same term from a previous year. Whatever is desired.
You could even have different assessments on each scale. This one shows spring for both assessments, but instead of KS1 test results… book bands! (we only bother tracking to grey). And yes, we could filter for key groups very easily.
3: Heavily customisable. You can get any excel spreadsheet data in very easily. How Insight matches existing users with the data you import is extremely slick. And quick. It took me little over an hour to import all 12 of our class’ standardised tests for the spring term (our staff had already inputted test data into MARK so I wasn’t going to ask them to also enter it into Insight).
It really is very customisable. We have comparative judgement data (a scaled score) sitting alongside standardised test data. Book bands, teacher judgements and national test data.
4: Simplicity. It really is. And now, Insight syncs with your MIS.
So that’s the approach. It’s become simpler and simpler over the years and with Insight, I’ve been able to join the dots. And with the emergence of progress matrices in particular, the possibility of increasing impact.