How can learner attainment data support maths mastery?

|4 min read

Are you making the most of learner attainment data? Or collecting data just for the sake of it? Think carefully — it could help your learners achieve maths mastery.

Do you know how well your learners understood a lesson? How do you record that judgement? And most importantly, what happens once you’ve gathered and recorded the information?

As a maths mastery consultant, I’ve heard many different answers to these questions. But it’s important to take a step back before jumping to any one conclusion. First, you need to first ask, why?

Getting an idea of why you’re doing something means you have the right foundation to start thinking about how you’re going to do it, and then what you’re going to do with the information.

Step one: decide why you’re keeping a record of learner attainment in individual lessons.

Ofsted has made it clear they’re no longer interested in internal data. Now, the goal of recording learner attainment is deciding who needs more support or who’s ready to be challenged.

How to use learner attainment data to help your learners achieve maths mastery

For a mastery approach to be effective, learners need to have similar starting points when you begin a new lesson or topic.

Of course, there will be variations as your learners have a range of prior experience. Still, the English national curriculum expects, “the majority of pupils will move through the programmes of study at broadly the same pace”.

You can only move your class at the same pace if you know how to identify the outliers. To provide the right support for struggling and advanced learners, think carefully about your learners and your teaching practice.

Here are some questions that you could ask yourself:

  • How will you provide extra support?
  • Will you provide pre-teaching for learners who need a little additional reassurance before the lesson starts?
  • Can you set aside time for same-day intervention to give struggling learners a second chance to master today’s lesson?
  • How will you provide extra scaffolding or supporting resources in a lesson?
  • How will you give additional stretch and challenge for learners who are ready to go deeper?

Track learner attainment with these teacher-approved strategies

Now that you’ve thought carefully about why you’re recording learner attainment in lessons, you can start to think about how. Many of the schools that I visit have systems in place to track learner attainment, here are three of my favourites.

1. Colour coding

Wouldn’t it be great to have a simple way of seeing how your learners are progressing without sifting through a mountain of data? One school I’ve visited uses a nifty colour-coding system that lets you do just that. The system is well-established across the school, so all teachers and learners all know how the colours relate to attainment in lessons.

Teachers put a coloured flash mark at the top of the first workbook page for each lesson. The colour coding lets you flick through the workbook and instantly see how learners are doing over time.

2. Marking diaries

Once you’ve identified the struggling or advanced learners after each lesson, what do you do with that data? Another school I visit uses marking diaries to log any learners who have either exceeded or didn’t meet the objective after each lesson. These diaries track the progress of outlier learners and support them as needed.

If a significant number of children have struggled with a particular question or concept, you don’t have to waste time writing down their names. Begin your next lesson with a ‘feedback starter’, where you address the issue with the whole class.

3. Bookmark objective cards

Another tip for making the most of attainment data is encouraging your learners to track their own progress. Asking learners to reflect and self-assess helps build their metacognitive skills and growth mindset.

So how can you do this without making children feel like they are being scrutinised?

Give each child a card that communicates the objectives of each lesson, where they can record attainment against that objective. The card lives in their workbook and doubles up as a bookmark — particularly handy with younger pupils who can take time to find today’s page!

As with everything, a whole-school approach is often best. Take opportunities to discuss learner attainment data with your colleagues and listen to their solutions.

However you choose to record assessments of your lessons should make it clear what you are doing to help your learners meet the national curriculum objective of moving through the programme of study together.

Following the carefully constructed sequence of lessons provided by Maths — No Problem! means you can be confident your learners are on a progressive journey through their mathematical learning. As NCETM say, your next step is your next lesson.