I have worked in various roles throughout my career and in all of them I have used tracking as a way of monitoring pupil progress. I have always loved spreadsheets, and I suppose I am slightly addicted. A teacher only needs to mention grades and data and I’m already offering up an excel spreadsheet!
There are a few key reasons why I love them and use them on a daily basis:
1. It’s impossible to remember the intricate deviations in grades a pupil may have achieved at the beginning of the year as opposed to the middle.
2. It enables teachers to monitor whether pupils are on track to meet their target grade, or are in fact exceeding it - in which case a new target can be given.
3. It’s good to be able to see early on which skills need to be re-taught or approached in a different way.
4. It’s a very quick way of seeing how close or far away from their targets they are.
5. It’s a fantastic way of diagnosing trends across a class or year group.
6. It’s a good starting point when talking to parents and pupils.
7. It's a quick and easy way of entering data into reports. Instead of rifling through books and folders and trying to come up with your own 'average' or 'overall' grade, the tracker does all of this for you. And if you're lucky you will have a SIMS/ISAMS person who is able to import data for you!
8. It informs any intervention that is needed.
9. It’s easy to see which areas of the course pupils need extra help in.
As a classroom teacher, I use my tracker on almost a daily basis. I track any homework, classwork and assessments and use colour coding as a way of quickly identifying where a pupil has either fallen below expectations or fallen below their previous mark, grade or percentage.
I also find that I use it a lot at KS4 & 5 in the run up to exams. I am able to quickly group pupils by areas of weakness and target my intervention in a more effective way.
In terms of grade boundaries, I’m always cautious about this and usually add a few marks to the previous year’s boundaries. I also look at trends across years to see how many marks are added or removed each year. I do this because it’s important to be accurate when recording data. If the boundaries inflate one year and I hadn’t accounted for this in my own boundaries, it may be that a pupil who believes they are on track for an A, who has ensured they can get the required marks for an A, actually gets a B. Ultimately as, we are preparing pupils for the next stage in their educational career, I want to be as thorough and accurate as I can when telling pupils where they currently are and how to move forward.
I have trackers for absolutely everything:
· KS3 classwork, homework and assessments
· KS3 spelling tests (yes, this too)
· KS4 classwork, homework, assessments, mock papers
· KS5 classwork, homework, assessments, mock papers
In addition to my tracking, I also require students to track their own progress. However, they do this in terms of worded targets that are skills based. I’m a great believer in fixing targets before moving on to another piece of work, therefore I ask pupils to make a note of their grade, mark or percentage and also what they need to improve on for next time. In the same way that I can spot trends through data, they can also spot trends across pieces of work and begin to notice when a target appears a lot. They can also celebrate when it disappears because they have now mastered this skill.
As teachers we do an awful lot of work for our pupils, however I can honestly say that once a tracker is set up, it’s quick and easy to use. Spreadsheet trackers can calculate anything you want, all you need to do is enter a raw mark and they then reveal so much about individual pupils or classes.
They are a fantastic tool for HoDs as a way of giving a snapshot overview of the progress of a year group as well as being invaluable for classroom teachers.
If you’re new to using trackers or currently use them but want to spruce them up a bit, leave me a comment and I can give you some advice or tips. Please visit my tracking page for further ideas on how to use these.