With government expectations that every school will join a multi-academy trust (MAT) by 2030, how can assessment practices be part of an effective data strategy to drive school improvement?
Increasingly, MATs are choosing to align curricula and implement a common assessment framework across the whole trust, to create a coherent and collaborative approach to aims, policies and ways of working.
They might also use standardised tests alongside teacher-based assessment to get valuable insights into student ability and potential - insights that inform decision-making and empower teachers to make data-driven interventions that positively impact student achievement.
What role can consistent and comparable data play in the pursuit of ongoing school improvement within MATs?
Using comparable assessment data means using better-connected data. And better-connected data means trust leaders can gain quicker and clearer insights into the performance of individual academies.
Standardizing the evaluation of school performance in this way enables a fair and consistent assessment of each academy's strengths and weaknesses and informs better targeted interventions and improvement strategies.
Comparing performance data between academies within a trust also helps to:
- Identify trends across the trust and support strategic planning
- Recognise high performing schools and see where best practice can be shared
- Understand where additional resources are most needed and will have the greatest impact
- Decide the intervention strategies to address areas of weakness or underperformance.
Why use standardised tests in MATs?
Teacher assessment is essential, and the insights gained from it incredibly valuable – however, in any one subject, there may be many different tests used by many different teachers, using different criteria across the MAT. Consistency and tracking can be difficult to achieve in one school, and the challenge is multiplied when dealing with multiple schools.
Comparable data from CEM’s standardised tests for MATs offers trusts the reassurance of evidence-based reliability and validity. It gives trust-wide data that helps to track trends and drill down at a school level, year group level, or individual student level, supporting trust leaders to understand the story behind their data and understand context of each school.
Benchmarking and collaboration
CEM’s assessment data allows trusts to compare data between academies and against the national picture, enabling trust leaders to identify best practice and successful strategies that can be shared and turn trust-wide data into action in the classroom.
Benchmarking against high-performing schools within the trust can encourage collaboration and build a culture of continuous improvement within the trust. It creates a shared language between academies, opportunities to learn from one another, exchange ideas, and work collectively towards improving outcomes for all students.
Data sharing and collaboration may take various forms, such as regular meetings, joint professional development sessions, or virtual platforms for sharing resources and experiences. This exchange of ideas and knowledge helps foster a sense of collective responsibility for student success within the trust.
Using standardised data to drive decision-making helps to set clear performance expectations, to monitor progress and work towards common goals.
Regular review and analysis of the data creates the space for ongoing performance conversations between trust leaders and academy leaders and provides an evidence-based foundation for the discussions around strengths, areas for improvement, and the development of action plans to drive progress.
Better connected data
Accessing data through a variety of systems, platforms, processes, and formats means comparisons across academies can be time consuming and tedious for trust leaders.
In practical terms, using standardised tests gives trusts objective, independent and ready-made analysis. The speed with which the assessments are administered, and the results retrieved, makes it easy for MAT leaders to support new schools joining the trust, support teacher assessment, and focus on specific targets and areas for school improvement quickly and reliably.
Better-connected assessment data means better decision-making that empowers trusts to drive continuous improvement across all academies within the trust.
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