Losing track of your data?

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Under the new Ofsted framework, inspectors will now “ignore all tracking data” and from September 2019 Ofsted’s goal will be to view performance measures more in the context of the quality of education provided.

Consequently, ongoing and urgent discussions are intensifying around how schools should measure and demonstrate pupil progress, or even if it can be done at all.

It’s no surprise that many schools implement systems with an over-reliance on too-frequent data collection and meaningless tracking, which inevitably leads to excessive teacher workload.

Here is a small selection of some of the blogs that offer a summary of the key issues and some common-sense suggestions on what schools can do about them:

Sig+ : School Data Updates

James Pembroke’s blog post The Nuclear Option looks at the ineffectiveness of many of the tracking systems used in schools to show progress and highlights three key issues around the ‘cacophony of data noise':

  • Data is a distraction
  • Data is unreliable
  • Data is too diverse

However, he also questions whether we should willfully ignore high-quality data because a lot of tracking data is unreliable.

His recommendation? Use a simple, customisable system.

Becky Allen: Musings on education policy

You may already have read Becky Allen’s earlier discussion on the question of why we cannot easily measure progress, and her latest post Poor attainment data often comes too late! advocates being positive about the ‘right kind of data.’

She takes a thorough look at the issues around the frequent collection of attainment data and suggests five kinds of data that could lead to some actionable changes. Rather than waiting to find out that attainment data is poor, she suggests school leaders should identify the indicators to take action sooner.


Tom Sherrington’s The Ideal Assessment Tracking Regime? offers a clear recap of the problems around widely-used approaches to assessment tracking and reporting.

He sets out some of the key principles schools should adhere to (do not collect more data than teachers can usefully use to lever improvement, reference discussions about attainment and progress to detailed information about what students need to know, benchmark internal data against national cohort data) as well as offering practical suggestions for what sensible assessment and reporting might look like, including:

  • Baseline tests using widely-used national systems (e.g. MidYIS)
  • FFT data to be used for internal use only
  • Multiple use of low stakes tests/assessments that track understanding of the curriculum, so that teachers form a rounded view of student attainment in a format that suits them in a timeframe that is meaningful

More Information

Find out how schools are using CEM assessments to support their students in our selection of case studies.

Read Signs of progress: what can we learn from results?