Someone asked me this question recently and it made me think about what the answer is – because since joining SIMS many years ago to work on our assessment products, I’ve seen a lots of ways of tracking achievement.
I’ve said it before, but that's because it's true – the best part of my job is visiting schools of all types and seeing how they use the SIMS software every day, and learning about how our customers use the insights that SIMS delivers to make a difference to the outcomes of the students that walk through their doors every day.
Just before I started working for SIMS (around 17 years ago!), I was a Deputy Headteacher in a large secondary school and we had built a pretty good system for recording, reporting and analysing assessment data in SIMS Assessment Manger (Version 5 for any SIMS geeks out there!)
Things are a lot different now of course, both in what schools expect to be able to do with assessment data, and how software can help them achieve their aims. And, because of the flexibility of the SIMS Assessment solution, schools have been able to tailor their assessment systems in SIMS very precisely to what they want to achieve and how they want to operate their assessment policy. As an assessment coordinator once said to me, the reason they like SIMS Assessment was that their assessment software was being driven by their school policy and processes - and NOT the other way around!
There are as many different approaches to assessment as there are schools. Just Google ‘SIMS Assessment Manager’ and click on images – you can scroll forever with different examples of SIMS marksheets! And, even if what is being assessed is the same, how schools capture, report and analyse the data is likely to be different.
So, and I’m not going to write a blog that claims to know how to create the best assessment tracking system. The most effective schemes do, of course, share similar characteristics in that they are simple to understand (by students and parents, as well as teachers), focus on quality and not quantity of data, and most important of all, support real decision making and drive meaningful interventions when necessary.
I’ve seen lots of such systems in my time, and last year I had the pleasure of looking at what Susie Lacey, Data Manager at Reed's School has developed. The difference with Susie’s system is the real focus on doing something with the data that is collected and presenting it in a way that can be shared and understood by a wide range of stakeholders across the school community – so they get a full picture of their students and can use the information to make a difference on learner outcomes.
Anyway – the Reed’s assessment tracking system is so brilliant it was award nominated at the recent i25 iExcellence Awards for innovation. I can’t do it justice here so I’d encourage readers of this post to take a look at this short video outlining how their system operates and how the highly visual Data Dashboards are used to provide tracking information across GCSE and A level groups.
Assessment Tracking at Reed's School
So, 'the assessment and tracking system at Reed's school' is my answer to the question in the title.... at least until the next school visit!