In a seminar today at ‘The Sunday Times Education Festival’, Paul Kelley discussed the assessment system and how we might utilise the data and analytics so many teachers despise for actually moving towards evidence based teaching that can make a measurable difference to learning.
Our data says that we are getting better, with grades at A level increasing each year. However, PISA and OEDC studies show a different story. The external measure of the British system, Kelley claimed, say that literacy is going down.
Columbia, Georgian, Norway and New South Wales are using new technologies to drastically reduce costs and timescales associated with exams, as Ewan McIntosh reported some time ago…
Cost is one thing, but what about speed? When exam results come immediatly rather than in a brown envelop months later, could the summative assessments often accused of being of little use to learning actually become formative?
He shared John Hattie’s evaluation of the effectiveness of interventions. These results are suprising, and some teachers in the room obviously disagreed with some of them, in particular the evidence that ability grouping has no benefit to learning. Many of these findings don’t ‘feel right’ to teachers, both new and experienced. The question we need to ask is do with go with evidence to shape our practice or gut feeling?
Kelley argued that when you have rigerous, regular and quick assessment, you begin to move to place where educational practice can be specifically evaluated in terms of what makes a difference. At present, he characterised our educational system as where medicine was in the days of the leech; we are applying things based on a hunch they will work.
It strikes me that the biggest problem we have here is engaging school teachers with research, so that their criticism can move from it ‘not feeling right’ to more critical questions of methodology and validity. In our current system there is not the time or the culture of engaging with this kind of work in a sustained, embedded way, and until there is we will continue to work on our hunches despite being told the ‘evidence’.