- A simple explanation on what this means in context (e.g. ‘student X performs above their classmates in reading but less well in writing’) and
- Suggestions on how they should improve (e.g. ‘make sure you keep reading a chapter of a book every day, and make sure you practice writing at least 100 words every day’).
If students or parents have limitations in their reading ability, information should be presented in visual form. For the school community, including teachers and school principals, it is possible to present the data in a simple table or chart along with a summary.
For large scale assessment, traditional approaches to reporting involve creating a lengthy report full of charts and tables, often in paper form. This is then disseminated to educational officials and administrators, where it often sits in their office on a shelf and gathers dust!
This approach to reporting and dissemination is very old-fashioned, however, and does not take account of the needs of stakeholders. It is increasingly recognised that many people find it very difficult to look at charts and tables full of numbers and interpret what this means. This prevents assessment data being optimised to improve teaching and learning.
As a result, there is growing awareness of the need to design reporting and dissemination strategies, both to make the interpretation of assessment data easier and also to recognise that different stakeholders need different types of information.
The key educational stakeholders for reports on large scale assessment include: government ministers, policy makers, state and district officials, school leaders, teachers, parents, students, the general population and the media.
Each of these groups of stakeholders is very distinct, with different needs in terms of the amount of detail, how data is presented and the kind of summary. All stakeholders should receive a written summary as well as any data display, highlighting key findings and also making suggestions about how to improve teaching policy and practice.
One of the benefits of assessment data is that it can enable monitoring over time. For example, a cohort of students might be assessed in grade 3, again when they reach grade, 5 and again when they reach grade 8. This is a very useful way to show how successful the education system is in helping all students improve their learning over time, and identifying particular types of students that need additional support.
To do this, however, the assessment programme needs to be well designed. For example, giving a test form to students in 2019 and a different test form to students in 2020 does not allow monitoring over time. Instead, student performance will depend on the difficulty of the two test forms and it will not be possible to make any valid comparisons.
If monitoring over time is desired, the assessment programme – from the initial planning stage and through all activities – has to be done in a way that complies with global best practice, including linking test forms and performing psychometric analysis. It will then be possible to place student performance on a single reporting scale and follow their progress across different years.
To find out more about how assessment data can how assessment data can support monitoring, and how reporting and dissemination can be optimised, go to #Intermediate.