Weekly Column from the Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta
If you’ve ordered anything online recently, you’ll be familiar with the tracking process that begins from the moment you select ‘Purchase’ until the parcel arrives at your front door. As technology progresses, this process is becoming ever-more sophisticated. While we’ve seen watches that can monitor walking steps and smartphones that get real-time updates on pizza deliveries, we are yet to see the same advancements when it comes to tracking how students are progressing at school.
Having the ability to monitor the academic milestones and outcomes of each child makes good sense. In fact, Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said recently that the introduction of the Gonski recommendation of a system that provides teachers and schools with real-time information on academic progress was at the top of his agenda.
Research tells us that the more understanding teachers have about student capability and performance, the more likely it is that they will be able to help the student with their learning. Historically, the tracking of students has been ad hoc or non-existent except for school reports produced twice a year.
Understanding student achievement has always been problematic for schools. Traditionally, we have viewed progress in terms of how students perform on a standardised test or assessment. These happen after a task or at the completion of a subject. What is needed is to be able to assess before learning, during and after so that teachers and parents are able to see where and what the learning gains are for individual students.
We have the technology that can help capture where students are right on an almost daily basis. This kind of monitoring would allow teachers to see immediate progress based on standards, key concepts or skills such as collaboration. It would also hopefully provide evidence for more immediate intervention strategies.
Knowing the learner is central to personalising learning. Tracking student progress enables teachers to plot the next steps, provide parents with up-to-date information on their child’s learning and progress and, importantly, allows students to see what they’ve learned and where their strengths are.
The more we know about the individual learner, the better we are able to meet their needs.
Executive Director of Schools – Diocese of Parramatta