Professional attitudes to the use of data in England

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English schools arguably have more sophisticated datasets at their disposal than any other jurisdiction in the world. These datasets gather the academic outcomes and a range of demographic data for all young people in England from age 4 to 16. They are used to provide schools with a wide range of school- and student-level measures related to academic attainment and value-added progress to inform school self-evaluation. This chapter discusses some of the ways these data are utilised in English secondary schools in order to inform school improvement. It presents findings from a nationwide survey of teachers on their self-reported use of, and attitudes toward, student- and school-level attainment and progress data. The purpose of the survey was to investigate the extent to which teachers in schools use these data; whether they are satisfied with their level of understanding of data; and the frequency of training they feel they require to both interpret and utilise it. The survey found that levels of data use in English secondary schools are high and that satisfaction with data use is linked to teachers’ level of responsibility, with Deputy and Assistant School Principals reporting the most extensive data use and greatest satisfaction with their level of data use. The frequency of training in data use appears to be positively linked to teachers’ self-reported level of understanding of data. The results suggest that teachers with no formal leadership roles require training on at least annual basis to significantly improve their understanding of data. Teachers strongly feel that data analysis and interpretation should be delegated to a greater extent throughout the staff in the school. There is also a perception that Heads of Department should take the leading role in data analysis and interpretation, more so than is the case in many schools where analysis and interpretation of data is often the province of more senior members of the school leadership team.

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Downey, C., & Kelly, A. (2013). Professional attitudes to the use of data in England. In Data-based Decision Making in Education: Challenges and Opportunities (pp. 69–89). Springer Netherlands.

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