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MIS Systems Thread, Assessing Pupils' Progress (APP) and Online Reporting in Technical; <RANT> Is it just me, or is there no communication between central government and the MIS companies? We need to ...
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    Assessing Pupils' Progress (APP) and Online Reporting

    <RANT>

    Is it just me, or is there no communication between central government and the MIS companies? We need to implement 2 big initiatives in the next 12 months and the only way I can see of doing it is to pay for a custom web app that does the job properly, with the UI and reporting we need and which somehow (and we've all read plenty about the problems involved in this) talks to the MIS...

    Example #1:

    Has anyone found a sensible way of recording assessments under the new APP scheme? I talked to a Serco rep about it several months ago and he wasn't aware of its existence. "ALFIE", their KS3 assessment tool, seems to be an application for making tests, which kind of misses the point completely. We will be reduced to paper I think.

    Example #2:

    Online Reporting (in place for September 2010 please) requires parents to have access to progress/attainment, attendance and behaviour information. In Eportal we have Lesson by Lesson, we have Behaviour Events, but the best we can do with assessment is a grade or level. We would like therefore to record more detail about individual assessments (i.e. some free text) and do away with annual reports. Unfortunately, as far as I can see both Serco and Capita still see reports to parents as a piece of prose written termly or once a year. The last Serco rep I spoke to recommended Markbook, but I can't see how that lets us enter text (e.g. a next step).

    Thinking even further ahead, shouldn't teachers be able to specify an activity online or on the VLE as a next step? That would just need a field which allowed hyperlinks...

    I suppose the frustrating thing is that we shouldn't be suggesting developments - we should be wowed by what the companies themselves come up with! Isn't that meant to be the point of a competitive industry? Clever solutions to problems? I can't believe high level meetings don't take place between the companies and civil servants/ministers to let them know what schools are going to need to implement.

    Any schools with the answers (or indeed reps from the MIS firms telling me I've got it wrong) please reply...

    </RANT>

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    If it's any help we record pupil progress on a monthly (or so) basis in Assessment Manager in SIMS. We are piloting Gradebook in Moodle with some departments with success, and these teachers are beginning to rely on this as a method of APP. At the moment, these results aren't fed into AM, but it would be ideal if they were (damn capita and their 'read only'). Online reporting to parent is currently handled through SIMS Learning Gateway portal, but this, in my view, is not ideal. At my school I would rather see reporting to parents handled through Moodle, where the parent could have a more complete view of homework set, behaviour, attendance, etc. with one login.

    To be honest, I think that this area is being held back by the 'educationalists' who think they know what they are doing, but this is proving not to be the case. We have separate applications for separate levels of reporting, when what should be developed is an integrated solution. However, the educationalists don't seem to 'get it' when such a global solution is described. This, unfortunately, would really have to be specified on a school to school basis as each have their different focusses and different systems, so a panacea is not inevitable.

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    This is possible in Sims.net -- it just requires thought!!

    You can use Profiles(with comment banks) and links Assessment Manager. With Assessment Manager you could have Assessment Focuses and levels collected each AF1,2,3. You could then link the results to the comment banks which you will copy and paste all the assessment foci e.g
    AF1: Across a range of contexts pupils:
    • Plan how they will use ICT to solve a problem
    • Comment on success of their solution
    • Refine and develop information using ICT tools and techniques to make changes
    • Describe how they use ICT at school and how it is used outside school


    Which can then be reported to parents! It might take a days worth of work but it can work!

    It could be communicated online to parents via SIMS Learning Gateway and on Paper via reporting.

    Not sure how you would do it in Facility.
    Last edited by kiran; 10th October 2009 at 12:37 PM.

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    APP isn't statutory and it's down to the school to do what they want, and what suits them best. It's a bit like the primary numeracy/literacy strategy - you don't _have_ to do it, but if you are advises to do it unless you have a system that is better. APP isn't about teaching to assessment criteria, nor are you required to keep a tick list of the assessment criteria pupils have met.

    APP is more about a working assessment system that includes assessment for learning as a key feature. All the teachers I've seen use APP seem more bothered about recording levels for activities and not about how to move to the pupils forward.

    All the commercial APP systems I've seen (and I've been looking at science rather than other strands) just keeps a tally of who has met what criteria, which adds a whole unintended level of bureaucracy to the process. Recording numeric levels is just as valid.

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    It is possible to record AF progress using SIMS, with a bit of work and thought. It is very noticeable that a lot of third-party solutions for recording exist though.

    We're working on this area now, but there are a lot of issues involved, not least in terms of giving consistency across the curriculum - not all subjects have an APP scheme available, so how do you make sure that judgements across subjects are compared like-for-like?

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    fiendishlyclever's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattMitchell View Post
    We're working on this area now, but there are a lot of issues involved, not least in terms of giving consistency across the curriculum - not all subjects have an APP scheme available, so how do you make sure that judgements across subjects are compared like-for-like?
    Judgements across subjects aren't like for like.

    Judgements within subjects need to be moderated. Any decent department can manage moderation (and should be doing it for KS4/5 exam work...)

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    Sorry, slight rephrasing required...

    Since some subjects are levelled on the basis of homework/tests/teachers' professional judgements within the old NC framework, and some subjects are levelled using the different APP methodology, it may be the case that one subject or another appears to be "doing better", either at student level or at cohort level.

    Has anyone noticed any impact (positive or otherwise) on tracking in this regard?

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    I dont see why you cant easily set-up an assessment system using facility to record short comments together with levels. Whilst the standard Serco models dont offer this flexability, the software does easily.

    An APP model is currently in final stages of testing for release to primary schools (who are interested) in Birmingham, so its possible....

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    At our school parents log in via moodle. They can see what work has been set via the moodle system for homework etc.

    I have also extended a moodle/facility integration module so that parents can also access Eportal type information ie Events relating to behaviour, Documents ie letters sent home to pupils, reports, gradebooks by subject etc. The module already gave access to attendance and timetable.

    So not really sure why you think MIS can not meet your needs. Even if we used Eportal only our Gradebooks pretty much match what you have been asking for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MattMitchell View Post
    Sorry, slight rephrasing required...

    Since some subjects are levelled on the basis of homework/tests/teachers' professional judgements within the old NC framework, and some subjects are levelled using the different APP methodology, it may be the case that one subject or another appears to be "doing better", either at student level or at cohort level.

    Has anyone noticed any impact (positive or otherwise) on tracking in this regard?
    Yeah, we've noticed this problem. Some departments argue that their lower levels reflect the reality that it will take a whole year for students to be achieving their target levels. To compensate for this we've introduced interim targets for the first term or first half of the academic year that are one or two grades (or levels) lower. Then the calculated residual is more of a reflection of if that department feels the students are 'on track' or not.

    We're also moderating on a whole-school level. Heads of year are noting discrepancies from just looking at the traffic-lit columns of assessment data - some subjects are all red, others all green! We're just feeding this back to HoDs and they're gradually adjusting their mark-schemes and/or implementing interim targets.

    It's a slow process but we're getting there, I think.

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    Is it just me or do people have varying concepts of what APP means?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MattMitchell View Post
    Is it just me or do people have varying concepts of what APP means?
    It's not just you! I've noticed it too.

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    Ok, slight thread hijack here: is anyone recording APP assessment focus data in SIMS? How awkward has it been to do it and has it brought any benefits?

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    As a stopgap solution until we get the SIMS Learning Gateway running properly, we have bought into IRIS which other than my reservations about their public DNS hosts the behavioural management stuff.

    goto Schools Data Services Ltd for more info, but their Java based user upload is a little flakey - but this is the only interaction I have with it, usually when SIMS has been updated and it stops working (understandably as it is on the wrong version) or it just plain crashes as I think it has a long term memory leak (it lasts for about a half term before it needs a kick).

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    What's a behaviour management system got to do with APP???

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