15 April 2016    No. 11-16
[download pdf] 

Unpacking the Joint Statement on the Purpose and Use of Data in Queensland Schools

In response to a number of workload issues raised in QTU member surveys, the QTU has sought the development or revision of a number of the DET/QTU joint statements.

The joint statements address a range of professional issues and are recognised by QTU and the DET as enforceable under the current certified agreement.

The most recent, the Joint Statement on the Purpose and Use of Data in Queensland Schools, has been developed following member and DET consultation.

The key principles of the joint statement

  • Evidence-informed decision-making is vital to inform classroom practice. 
  • It is important to take a considered approach to how we use data within our schools, including managing teacher workload demands around collecting, analysing and responding to data.
  • The most important data pertaining to student achievement is that relating to the curriculum being taught within the classroom.
  • School leaders and teachers need to focus on relevant data that informs everyday teaching practice and the next steps for learning for students.
  • It is counter-productive for teachers to spend time on data tasks that are not intrinsically linked to student learning, or that are not relevant to their roles, the school priorities and departmental requirements.

Implementing the joint statement in schools/workplaces

The joint statement identifies that schools should develop, in consultation with teaching staff (including the local consultative committee (LCC) in schools required to have one), a data plan which documents the approach to data that will be taken in the school.

Consequently, schools should establish mechanisms by which agreement can be reached on:

a)     what data is necessary (do existing data sets i.e. A-E meet our needs or is there a genuine need for more data?)

b)     how this data will inform teaching and practice and school improvement (how do we use this data to support the learning of students in the classes that we teach?)

c)     what data is to be collected and when (e.g. how frequently does data need to be collected and is it occurring as a result of teaching and learning in the school?)

d)     roles and responsibilities of teachers and other staff (who does what, e.g. it is not the role of the teacher to contact parents when students are absent; are teachers focused on teaching and learning and not data entry tasks?)

e)     where is this data to be stored (is there an agreed single point of data to avoid multiple data entry points?)

f)     how will this data be represented, tracked and monitored (e.g. is there an agreement about the visibility of data, how this is recorded and how this data will be updated?)

g)     the audience for the data, how it will be reported and the frequency of reporting (e.g. who are we collecting the data for? How often do we report on the data? If we report to parents more than twice a year, is this agreed and what is the form of this reporting? Is there an unrealistic expectation that teachers will be reporting to parents more often than the formal reporting cycle?)

h)     what resources will be allocated to the priorities identified by the data? (e.g. are we using I4S funds to address issues identified in the data? How will we celebrate success? If we are having conversations regarding the data, when do these take place? If the plan identifies the need for cooperative planning, what resources will be directed to the release of teachers for this purpose? The joint statement clearly states that non-contact time is to be used for preparation and correction, consequently a school’s data plan should identify the relevant time or resources that build in the opportunities for teachers to collect and compile evidence to inform teaching practice).

All members should have the opportunity to have input into the development of the data plan. In most schools these elements will be easily identified through the pedagogical framework, annual implementation plan and the school’s response to school reviews/teaching and learning audit (i.e. QSR). It is essential that the LCC is used in the development of this plan.

The joint statement also provides school leaders with a tool to “push back” against unreasonable data demands.

Proposed steps in achieving a data plan in a school

  1. School leaders and Union Reps should meet to discuss how consultation will occur.
  2. Consultation commences, including consideration of existing programs/processes in the school.
  3. LCC meets to consider an initial draft of the plan.
  4. Consultation on the draft takes place.
  5. Plan is further considered by LCC.
  6. The school’s data plan is finalised and provided as a resource to all employees in the school.
  7. The data plan is subject to review at LCC and other meetings and updated as necessary.

The importance of the LCC (or small school consultation processes) cannot be understated – it is the vehicle for consultation and change management in the school. The role of the LCC is not limited to consulting on initiatives (in this case the data plan) but also to support the implementation and review of these initiatives. Consequently, the data plan, along with the planning processes and schemes of collegial engagement in schools, should be standing items for LCC meetings so that issues can be addressed and changes made in a timely manner.

Further information and assistance

The QTU appreciates that most schools will already have programs in place to address school priorities – it is these programs and how they are chosen that form part of the plan. The consultation regarding the school-wide data plan provides an opportunity for schools to review current practices and teacher and school leader workload and determine whether or not they continue to support the school’s priorities.

Additionally, it is not the expectation that every school will have a data plan immediately. However, given the agreement reached between QTU and the DET around the joint statement, work on the development of the data plan should be undertaken as soon as practicable so that it can inform planning processes for 2017.

Should you require any assistance in unpacking  the Joint Statement on the Purpose and Use of Data in Queensland Schools, please contact your Organiser or QTAD 1300 11 7823 or qtad@qtu.asn.au

2015 Financial statements now available

The draft 2015 Annual Financial Statements for the Queensland Teachers’ Union and the Australian Education Union, Queensland Branch together with the draft 2015 Annual Financial Disclosure statement are now available to view in the About Us/Financial Statements section of the website. You will need your QTU member number and password to access these documents.

 Authorised by Graham Moloney, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union