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1.   Consider underachieving Sam: Sam is not doing all that well at School

One parent says Sam is lazy and the other parent says Sam is discouraged

  • Who is right?
  • How do you know?
  • What are some other possibilities?
  • How will you respond? 
  • To what?
  • Where to from here?

Data in Schools are multitudinous and rarely straightforward

Consider what we can bring to bear on Sam's situation. Can we identify possible starting points for making sense of Sam's situation

  • How might we validate these possibilities?
  • What response might we make to each valid possibility for improving things for Sam?
  • Knowledge is necessary for achieving  improvement
  • Knowledge comes initially from observations & measurements.

Hence there are three matching questions

  • What to measure & observe, (ie, what concepts are involved)?
  • How to measure & observe?
  • How to act on the measures & observations?

Acquiring data  What process is used to acquire each kind of data as follows (give an example of each)

  • counts
  • measurements
  • ratings
  • perceptions
  • opinions
  • hearsay and/or gossip

Indicate the level of reliability of each.

2.   Next Example  Underachieving Sam again: Sam's teachers are concerned that he/she is not very productive in class. What do we need to 'measure' to get a good understanding of the situation?

  1. How well is Sam's work done?
  2. How much of the work does Sam do?
  3. How efficient are Sam's work practices
  4. How well does Sam apply his learning?
  5. When (what part of the day?)
  6. Where (which lessons, with whom ... ?)

3.   Follow Up  Combining data Sam also complains that he/she can't do the work. "It is too hard and boring

What data do we need to make a response to Sam's claims?

3.1     Possible difficulties for Sam in relation to the learning task

  1. Interpretation & translation ? (Improve reading, listening, observations,...)
  2. Insufficient knowledge, information,...? (Acquire knowledge,...)
  3. Insufficient understanding/skills ? (Get coaching, practice,....)
  4. Poor task management? (Improve planning, action, checking, ...)

3.2    Possible Thinking problems

3.3    Possible Learning problems

3.3    Possible Learning Dysfunctions

4.     Tantrums (and all behaviour problems) need data to verify progress or lack of it.  Terry has a history of of throwing tantrums. Terry's  family is distressed that at Granny's 80th birthday, last weekend, Terry really 'lost it' when a younger cousin got the first piece of Granny's cake.

To help us know about Terry's tantrums we need three pieces of data:

  1. Are the tantrums getting further apart?  (By how much)
  2. Is the recovery time getting shorter? (By how much)
  3. Are the tantrums becoming less severe? (By how much?) 

In Terry's case it has been over a month since his last tantrum. He was pretty much his/her usual self about 30 minutes after his/her cousin got the first piece of cake. Terry did have to be removed from the room but this time Terry's family didn't have to go leave the party (like the time at Uncle John's fortieth, but that another story...)

Progress is generally  made in the order listed above. Terry has actually made a lot of progress and this means he has considerable control and is therefore much more responsible. His tantrum was not much fun but his parents have meaningful data and are therefore better informed and make better responses.

See also Using Data at Riverside Primary School, and Playground Studies. Also check out possible process data in the Quality Issues column of the Midyear Reporting process.