How does assessment data influence teaching and learning in Australian schools? At the recent GL Education Forum, leaders from Catholic, Independent, State, and Higher Education sectors gathered to discuss this pressing issue. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t long before conversation turned to data and AI, and how they are instrumental in redefining our educational landscape.
The need for evidence-based approaches
Schools across Australia have widely adopted formative assessment data, but its application and effectiveness are inconsistent. Unlike the UK, where Ofsted monitors educational progress, Australian schools lack a central reviewing body. This decentralisation leads to a lack of uniformity in how educators use data.
Amid this variety, one point stands clear—an evidence-based approach is non-negotiable. Assessment data can drive meaningful change only when applied strategically and aligned with long-term educational objectives.
Bridging the gap
We know transitioning from primary to secondary school is often difficult for students. Educators are becoming increasingly aware that sharing assessment data during these critical years can help students adapt and thrive in their new environments. As a result, many schools have started to implement baseline assessments at the end of year 6 or the beginning of year 7. While this is a step in the right direction, a more strategic, uniform approach would increase its impact significantly.
The rise of data leaders
However, practical data usage requires the tools and personnel with the skills to interpret and apply this data. It was encouraging, as part of our discussions at the forum, to see so many schools recognise the importance of having a data lead to effectively train teachers and disseminate this vital information.
We can’t just rely on this one person however as successful data implementation is often a team effort. The data lead can guide the teaching staff, but buy-in from senior management and even the students themselves is key to a successful data strategy and can significantly amplify the benefits.
While it's essential to collect data, it's equally crucial to communicate it effectively. Sharing this information involves a variety of stakeholders—teachers, senior leaders, parents, and students. It's a lot to deal with, so creating a plan on how and when to share is essential.
The growing trend of student agency with data
One growing trend is giving students more control over their data. For example, when playing video games students like to see how they are progressing, why should progression at school be any different? By giving students more agency over their learning it empowers them, increases their engagement, and makes the learning experience more personalised and effective.
Online tools are making it easier than ever to share data with students. Schools are harnessing tools like Power BI to create student facing dashboards enabling them to take control of their own learning through seeing personalised targets, progress and development.
AI: The new frontier
We can’t ignore the elephant in the room. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is making headway into educational settings, raising concerns about ethics, fairness, and effectiveness. A draft principles-based framework is under review in Australia to guide schools on integrating AI ethically and responsibly in their settings.
GL Education's approach to AI
Our Director of Education, Crispin Chatterton, said it best “Our goal - and that of our owners, Renaissance - is to use technology and AI to support the work of teachers. We too think it has the potential to free up teachers’ time, reduce their workload and broaden their students’ horizons. Indeed, without these elements, AI will not enhance education. But we are also alive to its risks – and, in particular, our responsibility as an assessment provider to ensure that we make adjustments to prevent malpractice. Protecting the integrity of our assessments is vital if schools, students and parents are to retain confidence in the results and know they provide an accurate picture of academic ability and attainment.”
Conclusion: The road ahead
The GL Education Forum served as a vibrant platform for educators to discuss the future of data and AI in education. The overarching message? A strategic, evidence-based approach is pivotal for leveraging these tools to drive educational success. Let's commit to harnessing data and AI as we move forward, ensuring our students and educators a brighter future.
The GL Education Forum was launched in 2023 with the aim to bring together influential educators and key industry representatives to discuss key topics and trends that are happening in the education space, share best practice and foster a community of learning and support.
The next forum will be held in 2024, if you are interested in attending or finding out more please contact [email protected]