Data and Information Richness


The Secondary School as a Data Rich Organisation (abbreviated version)

(For the full version of this paper, click here )

1. Essential: Use data to inform decisions at all levels in the school.

The basic philosophy behind the idea of data-rich schools is to use data to inform decisions at all levels of the school, from management to classroom.

2. What kind of data?  

It is useful to collect a range of intake-data in Year 7, including data provided by feeder primary schools such as Key Stage 2 test results, and, if available, results on reading tests etc. conducted in the primary school. It is also useful to test pupils at entry. Data collection should continue into the higher years of secondary school.        

3. Examples of use of data in schools

There are basically two main uses for this kind of quantitative data in schools: (1) as a pupil tracking device and (2) as a device for identifying strengths and weaknesses at the school, departmental and possibly teacher level.

4. Caveats

The questions you can answer with these kinds of data are always WHAT questions. What is going on with boys in the school, how are departments doing, etc. You cannot, however, answer WHY questions with these data. Why is department X doing better than Y, why are low ability pupils doing badly in our school etc.

Eventually, schools must move beyond a view of data as something that is disseminated from above to departments and teachers, towards a situation in which teachers can access the pupil database if and when they need to do so, and in which departments can analyse their own performance if and when necessary. Good accessibility of the database is therefore of the essence.

Effective use of data: CAT’s, Reading tests and Yellis

Some Specifics

1. Target setting using CAT and Yellis test scores.

2. Literacy intervention based on reading test scores and on singling out underachievers by comparing their reading and cognitive ability test scores.

3. Comparing departmental effectiveness using Yellis residuals.

4. Within departments a standardised system of regular teacher-developed testing, allowing one to monitor progress continually, is advisable.

5. CAT and reading test scores can be used to set pupils in Year 7. In later years teacher testing as described above can be used to that effect for different subjects.

6. A useful strategy, used in a number of schools, are meetings with whole staff/department heads to discuss data and explain what it means.

7. A number of schools have successfully involved Heads of Year in target setting, moving them from a purely pastoral to a more academic role in the school.

8. One person on the staff needs to be responsible for the data system. If necessary training in the use of databases/spreadsheets should be provided. 


Publications and Resources:

Cuttance P (1994) 'Monitoring educational quality through performance indicators for school practice', in School Effectiveness and School Improvement, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 101-126

This article discusses the management of quality in education systems through using a system of indicators developed to monitor the effectiveness of practice. Information gained through the monitoring of this effectiveness is explored.

                                    Click here

Reynolds D, Stringfield S, Park J, Treharne D & Muijs D (2003) 'Towards Data Rich Schooling', a conference paper given at the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement in Sydney, Australia 

This conference paper discusses the High Reliability Schools (HRS) project, focussing particularly on the need to make schools data-rich because commitment to the use of data was one of the key factors in the success of the project. The basic philosophy behind the idea of data-rich schools is to use data to inform decisions at all levels of the school, from management to classroom.

                                   Click here  

Scheerens J (1990) 'School Effectiveness research and the development of process indicators of school functioning', in School Effectiveness and School Improvement, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 61-80

This paper concentrates on the development of process indicators from a comprehensive model of school and teaching effectiveness. The advantages and disadvantages of constructing and using these process indicators are then discussed.

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Stacey N (2002) 'The importance and use of data in schools'. Report written by Nigel Stacey - Headteacher of Cwrt Sart School

This report discusses the use of data to change the culture of a school: outlining how schools can use data to set expectations for pupils early in their secondary career, thereby challenging perceptions of pupil ability, and enabling creation of the strategies required for individuals to realise their potential. 

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Visscher A, 'A framework for studying school performance feedback systems'.

This paper presents a framework showing the relationships between School Performance Feedback Systems and the factors influencing their impact.

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Dr. Muijs's powerpoint presentation:


This presentation examines the main uses of data in schools: tracking pupils and identifying school / departmental strengths / weaknesses.

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