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assessment trackers

Discussion in 'Assessment' started by bezm, Jul 4, 2010.

  1. Does anyone out there use Target Tracker from Essex for tracking their pupils? Can you tell me what you think of it?
  2. I don't have any first hand experience of it although they do claim to have 000's of schools using the software (the equivalent of all primary schools in 8-12 local authorities). As you are probably aware there are several other APP commercial systems available.
    Based on their website questions which I would be asking include:
    1. Do you have to use APP? Can you make changes to it or disable certain assessment observations etc?
    2. How do you record APP evidence?
    3. How many mouse clicks does it take to set base lines eg for a new pupil to the school do you have to separately record every assessment observation for the previous years of schooling before he/she is level 4A. How many clicks does it take to set the same APP observations for a subset of the class?
    4. What scope is there for entering additional comments and information on a pupil basis or for an APP observation?
    5. What 'Powerful Analysis' is provided? Can you, for instance, produce Venn diagrams for 2/3 subjects showing performance comparisons for ethnic and other subsets?
    6. Can APP data be entered when evidence is observed or must this been done as a marathon every term or half-term?
    7. Can you generate reports for parents and pupils indicating their targets and the milestones they have to pass in order to achieve those targets?
    8. Is there scope to record information (eg goals, timescales, etc) relating to intervention groups?
    9. What is the underlying technology and can the information be accessed from home?

  3. Why don't you ask them to put you in contact with a school near you that uses it? You can then get answers which are the real views of a user, not coloured by any sales pitch. You could possibly go and see how the school uses it which may also answer the questions above and probably others which are not so APP biased.
  4. With the head teacher of my son's primary school, we produced our own assessment tracker that uses APP, you can find more and download a demo here: www.schoolintel.co.uk.

    The other packages that are available are:
    • School Pupil Tracker
    • RainbowPPT
    • Classroom Monitor
    • Assessment manager (part of SIMS)
    • OptimumReports
    • TargSATS
  5. T34

    T34 Lead commenter

    Inform Tracker
  6. We use Target Tracker. It does everything we need and more, including producing reports for the SEF and, if you need it, APP.
    I'd used it when working in Essex and was delighted to discover, upon relocating back to my home town in Devon, that my new HT was about to subscribe. As Assessment Leader, I went up to Essex with my HT for the training, which was excellent. The program itself has inbuilt video tutorials and there is also a brilliant helpline.
    The package has saved us an enormous amount of work. Even the ICT 'luddites' have taken to it as, at the touch of a button, one can access data which identifies those who need intervention as well as producing individual profiles and information which can be presented to parents in order to demonstrate progress, or lack of.
    Of course, a tracking instrument is only as reliable as your assessment practice but I really would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who can afford it (the only drawback).
  7. I tend to make a distinction between 'tracking assessment' and 'tracking learning'. The former can be done with a relatively simple spreadsheet with columns for NC assessments termly, annually or as needed. There is a range of software which demands less data re-entry, makes data validation easier and provides some analysis. Saves SMT time but makes work for every-one else with little benefit to them.
    If you want to make a difference in the classroom then you need to be 'tracking learning'. A recent OFSTED report identified that a school needed to improve:
    • <li class="dash">using assessment data well to ensure that planning clearly meets the needs of all pupils
    • <li class="dash">providing good levels of challenge in all lessons, particularly for the more able pupils in all classes and girls in Key Stage
    • <li class="dash">developing consistency of practice in relation to pupils' awareness of their targets, the levels they are working on, and how they are helped to improve their work through marking
    A system with learning objectives such as series of 'I can' targets can provide consistency of assessment quality as well as informing children (and via reports parents) of what they need to improve. Several of the better tracking systems are now including such functionality. Where these are adapted from APP you have something much more concise and useable than sheets of paper - and electronic versions of the same forms don't save much time, if any.
    I can't comment on either the cost or the availability of 'I can' targets for target tracker. However, I know that you won't find the TaAPP software overpriced and that it has a choice of targets which can be used. See http://www.taapp.co.uk
  8. NicoleK

    NicoleK New commenter

    We have been using Target Tracker extensively in our school for the last 6-7 years. We find it fantastic and our tracking systems were highly praised by Ofsted in this year's inspection; if that holds any weight with you!
    Happy to answer your questions about it, fire away!
  9. NicoleK

    NicoleK New commenter

    By the way, although TT have added more and more APP"stuff" to the package, we don't use it. As APP is no longer supported or promoted by the DfE, I really wouldn't let APP related aspects sway your decision either way.
  10. I'm not surprised Target Tracker does loads of things as at it's core is a spreadsheet; spreadsheets are very flexible. The challenge for that company is to produce that functionality on the web so parents can access the information.
    We use SIMS Assessment Manager to hold all of our data and export this for analysis. It's great and gives us even more flexibility for reporting than any pre-prepared spreadsheet.
  11. Wow! You give parents access to Assessment Manager?
  12. suggest you make the most of your schools' MIS system- Sims, CMIS or other. in our exeperience the target tracker is not compatible with the MIS and therefore involves manual entry of data. also not convinced that the point scores are accurate in the system.
  13. T34

    T34 Lead commenter

    Except that the big firms' offerings for tracking look very much like afterthoughts. There is no reason why dedicated software should be any worse than SIMS or CMIS offerings and every reason why it should be better.
    What is "not compatible"? A pupil data file is easily accessible from the MIS and can be imported into any decent third party tracker software. No manual entry is involved.
    SIMS and CMIS grab <u>your</u> data into <u>their</u> database and use the buzz words "Integration" and "compatibility" to palm off on you the rest of their second rate programs.

  14. In my experience the 'compatibility' issues are often around data conventions not format. This might extend to codes for ethnicity or SEN; whether gender data needs to be translated eg 'Boy' to 'Male' or abbreviated to 'M'; conversion of date formats eg 03/31/10 to 31-Mar-2010 or 2010-3-31 etc. Life gets more interesting when transferring assessment data, NC targets, APP data or 'learning objectives' and finding conflicts between data value conventions eg 3A, 3a or 3 secure etc. Differences in how missing results are accommodated, assessment dates/frequency etc brings more challenges.
    In practice, this means that its often cost effective to automate the transfer of pupil information from systems such as SIMS into in-house spreadsheets or commercial learning objective and assessment tracking software. Many small schools don't have the expertise to convert and upload legacy spreadsheets into systems such as SIMS and its more cost-effective to re-enter just the relevant data.
  15. T34

    T34 Lead commenter

    Why do you want to transfer assessment data?
    I can only imagine you would want to do that the once, when you change to different assessment program.
    The new program will hopefully have a data import wizard of some sort which will be able to cope with different naming conventions. Or you can do a find-replace where necessary.
    Did you miss out a "not"?
    If so, you seem to be saying that once you are using SIMS you've got to stick with it because it's too hard to get the data out. I don't think it's<u> that</u> difficult.
    Now you are talking about transferring to using SIMS from some other program and saying that is difficult in that it involves a lot of manual entering.
    How does that square with your advising the use of SIMS?

    You seem to be making a general statement about the difficulty of switching from one assessment systm to another, not making a comment about which system is the best.

  16. At least in our local Primary schools, the information which is recorded in the classroom is greater than that needed by SMT which in turn is less than that reviewed by our LA (a subset of which is entered into RAISEonline). The more progressive classroom teachers record all assessed work sometimes in a spreadsheet and the learning objectives assigned to each child. The SMT tend to focus on those child whose performance attainment or progress is below expectations - often children with SENs or IEPs - with termly data. The LA (and the school governors) look only at annual progress and attainment. From an IT perspective, you will not have a good take up of a system which is specified by the LA with little or no consideration of those who most frequently enter and use the data who are in the classroom.
    Our LA enforces SIMS on Primary schools for certain tasks from which it is relatively easy to export lists of pupils, for instance for library systems. SIMS isn't configured and probably wouldn't give adequate performance for use in the classrooms. However, the format required for importing into SIMS is not one that can be readily generated using a spreadsheet.. Consequently, re-entering the relatively small amount of data which the LA requires in SIMS is a cost-effective solution. A newish SIMS module also has an ability to import/store spreadsheets but this gives no added value unless a wider range of analysis and reporting tools are then available and that this accomodates legacy spreadsheets.
    If the online reporting requirements are not going to be abandoned, then much more of the classroom data will need to be in an accessible secure database. I think there is a scepticism amongst software developers that online reporting will still happen in the current economic climate.

  17. T34

    T34 Lead commenter

    I like the way you've split assessment into the three "clients", classroom, SMT and LA.
    It seems that your LA is pushing Capita for returns and probably everything else. I wonder why? Probably because it makes it easier for them. But it may not make it easier for the particular school. But nowadays a school can use what it wishes and tell the LA to go hang.
    SIMS is basically a database, and things like assessment manager are separate programs. Your office staff enter your pupil data in SIMS but that does not mean you have to use SIMS assessment manager for assessment if there is somethingbetter available.
    There are plenty of other programms, Essex target Tracker (the theme of this thread) for one.
    I'm still at a loss as to why you recommended SIMS for assessment since since then you have pointed out that it has drawbacks.
    Online reporting - noone seems very bothered about this since BECTA got the chop. A good thing too. No need for it online, IMO. Termly paper reports would do just as well. I guess online reportingrequirement will be quietly forgotten.
  18. I didn't intend to endorse SIMS, its just that our LA (and others) are committed to it and it takes an unusually brave SMT of a Primary School to criticize the computing choices of its LA. Such comments from Governors who claim to be knowledgeable are inevitably ignored.
    I suspect you're right about online reporting but I also believe its one of the better BECTA objectives. This is because it would force schools to set and communicate Learning Objectives as well as communicate progress and attainment. I agree that there is no need for it to be electronic - our previous Government tended to push computerisation regardless of whether that made tasks easier and cheaper.
  19. You might also like to look at our Primary Progress toolkit: there is info at http://www.primaryprogresstoolkit.co.uk or we would be happy to demonstrate it.

    Roger Watson
  20. Yes, our school in Devon uses School Pupil Tracker. It is essentially a school self-evaluation tool. I have also been on a course in Exeter run by SPT themselves. On the course we learnt specifically how to interpret our data in the view to writing our SEF. I know that local schools to myself have also had OfSTED commenting on how much impact it can have on SLT's to help them to get to know the ins-and -outs of the performance of their school. We have TISP schools here (those that require significant help to improve) all of them use SPT for this very reason and I know that a couple were taken out of special measures last year which School pupil tracker helped towards. Fab programme! Their website is www.schoolpupiltracker.co.uk


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