From the President: Time for a conversation about data collection
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 126 No 2, 12 March 2021, page no. 7
Workload reduction remains a key priority for the Queensland Teachers’ Union, and this recently resulted in the revision of the Joint Statement on the Purpose and Use of Data in Queensland Schools, supported by information from the QTU and regions. So what, you might think? What does all this mean for me?
I remember when we were first collating and developing our school data plan. The first iteration had every single thing related to data collection that we were doing in our school dumped into it. From there, some synthesising occurred. Not much though, and basically, as a school, we continued to do everything we had always done. As each new idea came from central and then regional office, we added to the school data plan.
Over time, we began to have more detailed conversations at our school LCC about the purpose and use of data in our school. If there was a request to do something new, we began to ask the purpose of this new data collection. If it had to occur, what would be removed from the current data plan? These discussions began to really sharpen the data collection at a school level but didn’t remove a lot of duplication that was occurring.
The thing is, we do need to gather data, to inform future planning, teaching, learning and assessment for the students in our classrooms and schools. And schools have become much more efficient in the ways they collect and discuss information about students and improvement.
This is where the Data Literacy Framework (DLF) can support the how and why of data collection in our schools. The department, with much consultation with the Queensland Teachers’ Union, recently released the DLF to provide guidance to teacher and school leaders on the use of data to support student learning, wellbeing and school improvement. The DLF is available now to support data-informed practice in your school. In addition to the DLF, the department has also released a new suite of resources to support the development of school data plans.
You’ll notice that these updated materials have been released now to give us all time to understand the DLF, build our data literacy capability and use this year to have conversations, and draft and redraft our school plans.
This year, 2021, will be a familiarisation year for the updated advice about school data plans, moving to implementation in 2022. This is a very deliberate strategy of the department and the Queensland Teachers’ Union to provide teachers and school leaders with time to understand the expectations of the DLF. This gives all teachers and school leaders the opportunity to interrogate data collection and the ways and means of this data collection. Much of this work was already in progress, and the workload reduction processes of Term 3 in 2020 further supported the development of the DLF.
This will be a great opportunity to have a real conversation within your schools about challenging the way we have historically collected data, questioning current processes that generate reams of data (which often duplicate the same information), and asking how this could be streamlined to be more efficient.
The Data Literacy Framework provides some interesting guiding questions for the collection of data within schools. With a view to reducing workload, robust conversations should take place at a school level considering the following.
- Is it purposeful?
- Is it collaborative?
- Is it solution focused?
- Is it ethical?
- Is it inclusive?
In addition, the department has released school data plan minimum requirements, including mandatory data sets to include within a school data plan to support the implementation of the joint statement and school performance policy. There is so much data collected across the system, at a region, school and classroom level. These mandated data sets will minimise requirements for multiple data entry points and assist all teachers to focus on their teaching practice. Discussing alignment of the current data plan and these data sets will support the five questions asked earlier.
The DLF invites teachers and school leaders to reflect upon their data literacy. It is not a performance evaluation tool. It is a framework to enhance collaborative conversations about the use of data within the context of supporting student learning, wellbeing and school improvement in schools.
Having 2021 to engage and alter documentation in your schools to reflect these documents provides an opportunity to see what can be gathered centrally or at a regional level. This then won’t need to be duplicated at your school. It is an opportunity for school leaders and teachers to have meaningful conversations about data collection and reducing workload associated with these practices.