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Using data to inform teaching and learning at Mairehau Primary School

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Principal John Bangma and Deputy Principal Jenny Washington discuss data driven decision making at Mairehau Primary School. In this video they discuss how data is used to inform teaching and learning. They believe that the data we gather in our classrooms may not necessarily be used effectively to inform teaching and learning, but is gathered only for the sake of gathering data. At Mairehau School they make decisions about what data to gather to support student achievement.

There are two videos in this series:

Professional learning conversations

These questions and suggested actions encourage you to reflect on your own school context.


The New Zealand Curriculum (p39), states that:

"The primary purpose of assessment is to improve students’ learning and teachers’ teaching as both student and teacher respond to the information that it provides. With this in mind, schools need to consider how they will gather, analyse, and use assessment information so that it is effective in meeting this purpose."

  • What data is currently being gathered in your school and what is this data used for?
  • Is it being directly used to influence teaching and learning?
  • What data collection can be culled, as it is no longer informing student achievement?

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Assessment Online
This website supports schools to gather, analyse, and use assessment information to improve students' learning and teachers' teaching.


Principal, John Bangma

We have dedicated one of our syndicate meetings in three to be specifically looking at data and that is because in the busyness of school we are actually wanting staff to recognise the value and importance of using that data to influence their practice. We have changed our planning format and one of the additions we have put into our planning format is specifically the reason why people are teaching a particular subject, a particular focus and there is a space for them to actually be able to record that. And although we recognise that yes that information may be available somewhere else in their papers, we want them to actually be using that as their starting point. So there is no ad hoc learning but there is evidence to say this is why we are teaching this at this particular time for our children.

Deputy Principal, Jenny Washington

With our targets over the last couple of years, instead of having them being driven at a leadership team level we have asked our and our planning team leaders to create and come up with a target over an overarching concept. So really what it does it looks at teachers taking a group of children, looking at the data and then as a team making some decisions about what practice can happen in classrooms. And we link this back to our professional development because we try and keep our target related around our professional learning that we are achieving at the time. So how this helps our student achievement is that the teachers have all got a real focus on the learning concept that is also the target. So what the target then does is look at a specific number of children and from that we look at the child as a whole and then from there we ask our staff to get entry, mid and exit point data. And when they are gathering this data, what we ask them to do is look at that data really closely and with that data we expect them to look at what currently is happening in their practice within their classroom, what they have noted in the data, let’s say from the entry to the mid point, and how they can make improvements for the child. Now when we’re doing this we usually get our staff to look at about six children, two top, two middle, and two children who need improvement. And really what we’re asking is then to look at the whole range of their classroom but we specifically get them to focus on these children. And we find that once the teachers do this together as a planning team, there’s a lot more discussion about what’s happening in classroom practice, what specific things that they can improve on and therefore how they can move the child, because it’s about making the student achievement data improve in moving the child from where they are at to moving them on.


So when the teachers have taken the data and we spend time looking at the data using the ladder of inference, and that has been a really important change for us because in the past we were prone to be collecting data for the sake of collecting data. So the ladder of inference has allowed our teachers to actually break down the process to really get to grips with what that data is showing and the final question of that ladder of inference asks so what now what. And we very much believe that any evidence that we collect, any data, any assessment work, if it is not going to be used to improve teaching and learning and influence what is happening in the classroom then there really isn’t a great deal of point in collecting it. So we have culled off quite a bit of data collection that we have done in the past.

Deputy principal

This whole focus for us around gathering the evidence based assessment has driven us towards a focus on predicting and preventing. So one of the things we have looked at is looking at the data and going, and instead of looking at the data and going ‘we can’t do a lot about it now’ we are looking at the data going ‘what can we do so these particular children won’t get to this point?’ ‘What can we do so they can make improvements before they get there?’ So we are predicting where children might be. So let’s say for example if a five year old child comes to school on entry and is having difficulty recognising letters, that we’re going to make sure that there is a part of the classroom programme that is a real focus for that child so that by the time they get to five and a half that we can see some improvements and again there, from their six year net, when they are tested for their six year net, when they are tested for their six year net, we are looking at where that child will be for their six year net and preventing anything that would be detrimental for the child for their learning. So we are trying to get into that model of predict and prevent rather than being the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff with our data.

Published on: 27 Aug 2010