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MIS Systems Thread, Assessment - Frequent assessment & reporting in Technical; Hello... I'm started supporting a secondary school new to SIMS. They issue very frequent reports to parents (monthly, and weekly ...
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    Assessment - Frequent assessment & reporting

    Hello... I'm started supporting a secondary school new to SIMS. They issue very frequent reports to parents (monthly, and weekly in some cases).

    They have set up marksheets with discrete aspects for each reporting period i.e. similar to english comment 1 wk 1, english comment 2 wk 1.... english comment 1 wk 2, english comment 2 wk 2 etc etc. for 12+ subjects multipled by potentially every school week.
    Current setup associates each of these with a result set. This was on advice from Capita but I do not know how well they understood the school systems. We are not in the UK.

    This strikes me as very fragmented and does not facilitate analysis of specific issues over time. Question, if we don't use result sets in this way, can I ensure that:
    (i) reports for a specific date show a blank rather than the data from the previous assessment date - where a teacher has not input latest data, or it is not available
    (ii) historic reports are available where these are requested - e.g. John's report from March 15?

    Many thanks

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    I'm not 100% sure I understand the question, but that sounds like a very convoluted and messy assessment setup which is actually doubling up the work needed.

    In an ideal world discrete aspects (without a result set) are only used for entering data which is static/fixed, and not dependent on the date it is entered. Things like prior attainment group, or an end of key stage target etc. When you want to enter specific data at a series of dates, and be able to easily report on this data, you should use a single aspect but multiple result sets. So you would have a single aspect called 'English Comment' and then a series of result sets, "Week 1", "Week 2" etc etc. This way, any time you want to report on a particular result, you would also include the result set you are after. If there is no result in the aspect with that specific result set, then a blank will be shown. If the result set is left blank, the most recent result will always be shown (unless specific filters have been applied.)

    If you are using individual reports to create the reports, then historic reports should always be available providing you have a different template for each one. Even if you haven't, the underlying results will always be available if the result sets have been set up correctly so the reports can always be re-created. You can also upload each template when they are complete, so a copy of every report will be available in the student linked documents. Be wary though that if you upload a template a second time, it will replace the original linked document. If you were using the same template to create/upload multiple reports you would have to clone and re-name the templates first.

    I have a feeling that some might suggest it is good practice to always include result sets, even to static results, since there are various tools in AM that only work effectively when result sets are used. I haven't always done this, but am starting to see the benefit.

    Hopefully that makes some sense.
    Last edited by Ecclesbury; 18th April 2012 at 12:14 PM.

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    ProjectO (18th April 2012)

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    Thanks Ecclesbury

    Your response supports my initial reaction that the current configuration is needlessly complex. For clarity, the legacy system (Access-based and grown organically over 10+ years but "much-loved") is used for some weekly assessments with 3 'aspects' per subject. The in-school staff have endeavoured to replicate this in SIMS but, perhaps, without a full appreciation of the potential / functionality of SIMS.

    If I understand your suggestion correctly, we could use 3 aspects per subject (for the entire year or multiple years regardless of how frequent reporting takes place) and associate these only with result sets defined for each reporting period. This would mean that administration / maintenance of the system deals primarily with result sets on an ongoing / regular basis.

    Is it then possible to design a single set of reports that use result set as a variable for each report run? and how straightforward is this?

    My concern is that I will be in support role for the immediate future only and, as a non UK school, there is limited other support available. If possible, I would like to enable sustainable (independent) use of the system and separately encourage the school to schedule regular (possibly external) review periods.

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    Ecclesbury's advice is sound. Almost always use result sets. No need for three aspects per subject IF you are measuring the same thing each time.

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    Thanks both!

    I am beginning to suspect that I will have to accept the local configuration 'as is'. The school does assess and report on 3 different elements of student performance per subject on a monthly basis for all students and on a weekly basis for some. At least the current config of SIMS uses result sets for each of these aspects, which appears to offer some protection for the future...

    When we review our pilot run later this month, we can review and I might be able to encourage some (non technology-based) reflection on how the school manages assessment and reporting. It certainly is quite different to any UK model in my experience (but it does appear to work for them).

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    Quote Originally Posted by ProjectO View Post
    Is it then possible to design a single set of reports that use result set as a variable for each report run? and how straightforward is this?
    I think I see what you're after now, but I don't think SIMS will go quite this far. Presuming these reports are Word style A4 sheets, or similar, you would want a "Monthly Report" template, for example, which you could run, select the required result set from a tick list and hey Presto! Unfortunately it doesn't work quite like this. The best you could do would be to have a separate template for each result set (the first report would have to be cloned and the result tags all updated with the next result set and so on) In terms of on-going maintenance if you had to add a new result set, you would have to create a new report template each time, and presumably a new marksheet template (and with your current set up, a whole set of new aspects)

    If you haven't already, have a look at the "Individual Reports" section of Assessment Manager as this is where you would want to produce the reports.

    If all the assessment points are fixed then you could set up the system so that it didn't require any annual maintenance (other than new class marksheets.) The only problem would be if they wanted to change/add any assessment points. Using single aspects and result sets would mean that in order to add a new assessment point you would just add the results set, create the new marksheet template (or add the new column to an exisiting marksheet) and then create or amend a new individual report. With the new 'replace result set' tool in templates, this isn't as arduous as it sounds. Just a case of cloning various things.

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    Sorry, another thing just occurred to me that you might find it useful to look at the Tools>Performance>Assessment>System Utilites

    This includes various bulk update tools which you might find useful if you find you have to re-design anything and tidy things up without losing any old data. It is these tools which often become much easier to use if you have used result sets correctly.

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    I would go with starting again, as it will save you a lot of hassle. The path isn't easy, but well worth it in the end. Set up with 3 unique aspects per subject, then make 52 resultsets. or 33, whatever you need.

    Recent additions to AM7 mean you can easily clone a template and bulk change the resultsets, though i reckon, you probably would be better off using termly templates, that show e.g. weeks 1-6, then the next one does 7-12. If it's lots of little changes, in a fixed pattern, i have a vbscript that could also help.

    There are a few people that have programmatically created templates in XML, but it's too fiddly and needs doubling checking.

    The harder part, as described will be making all your individual report templates, it is however fairly easy to clone your initial one and then bulk replace all the resultsets. You use find and replace, and there is a specific set of instructions available to let you do that without corrupting your template.

    Do you have access to Capita's SupportNet website?

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