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RAISEonline Mark 2 is on its way

Colin Logan and Tom Middlehurst offer a sneak preview of the proposed new RAISEonline, including their improvement suggestions. You can pre-test it too…

What is going to replace RAISEonline now that the contract for the current version has come to an end? Earlier this month, SSAT’s head of policy, Tom Middlehurst, and I were invited to meet the developers and try out and comment on the latest version of the proposed new resource.

Although there is still further development taking place, we know that the new RAISE will be an online tool with a similar look and feel to the new performance tables website. Earlier reports had suggested that it would be a much cut-down version of the current model, leaving the way open for commercial providers to fill any gaps left by what might have been left out. This is generally not the case. (Having said that, the department is still keen to make pupil-level data available to approved commercial developers, so we shall almost certainly still see alternative software coming on the market.)

The DfE is saying that the new site will provide nearly everything that was previously there, although there won’t be provision for schools to upload their own data (which wasn’t widely used anyway) or any trend data (which would be of limited use at the moment, given the changes in accountability measures).

Also absent from the version we saw was anything on school context, prior attainment and characteristics of current year groups; one of our recommendations was that these should be included as schools find them useful in setting the implications of historic data into their current context.

The new version currently lacks anything on school context, prior attainment and characteristics of current year groups

The launch page shows headline performance data: for key stage 4 this was Progress and Attainment 8, Ebacc and A*-C passes (2016-style) in English and mathematics. In an effort to have a one-stop shop approach, there are hyperlinks to reference materials showing methodology and definitions, instead of having the separate RAISE library tab. Significance for A8 and P8 is shown using the five-colour banding familiar from the performance tables, ranging from ‘well above’ to ’well below’ average.

From each headline indicator, hyperlinks connect to group-level data, although there was no indication of significance in the version we saw. This is apparently still under discussion and might not appear in the first release.

Interestingly, ethnicity did not feature at all in the main tables. In order to limit the length of each table, it could be accessed only by additional filtering. We felt this was a backward step, as key information about ethnic groups is crucial for many schools and could be missed if not presented prominently.

Key information about ethnic groups is crucial for many schools, and could be missed if not presented prominently

A8 and P8 headlines also link to scatter charts in a similar format to those found in RAISE 2016. Hovering over each data point gives a useful pop-up showing the name and data for the selected student. There was no option to filter the charts by student characteristics, however, and this was another recommendation we made, although there is currently the option to highlight different data points based on student characteristics.

Our further suggestions

We suggested that they have another look at how grades and point scores are presented, particularly in chart axes. Things will be confusing enough in 2017 with a mixed economy of numbers and letters – we felt that attainment could be better shown as an actual grade (eg a 7 in English or a D in science) rather than as a total point score in an Attainment 8 pillar that then has to be divided by two (English and maths elements) or three (Ebacc and open elements) to give an average grade equivalent taking account of doubling-up or the number of subjects in that pillar.

RAISE 2016 attempted to show everything, including information about gaps for disadvantaged students, on a double page. This resulted in a mass of information clamouring to be noticed. That approach has been replaced with a separate tab to show disadvantaged performance. We did ask, however, for the misleading headings of ’national average’ to be clarified by referring to ’national other’ (ie non-disadvantaged), to avoid the widespread confusion caused initially by RAISE 2016.

Although we didn’t see them, there will continue to be tables for absence and exclusions and the option for both primary and secondary schools to produce QLAs (question-level analyses) of key stage 2 test results.

There is currently no option to ’save as my report’. Although not currently widely used, we felt that this would be a useful option to retain, to avoid having to produce the same filtered report every time.

Still to be decided is what will be included as a downloadable pdf to replace the current summary report. If everything is included (including full ethnicity data), this would currently run to 60+ pages – but what, if anything, should be left out?

The highlighted pages for governors were no longer identified in 2016, and governors’ access to the new version needs to be discussed.

Although each live report and chart had a ’print’ option, we pointed out that users would want an option to save to Excel and/or pdf. Also, the ability to choose either ’print this report‘ or ’print all reports‘ would be useful, to avoid having to do so one at a time.

And what is the proposed name of the new resource? Current options are either ’Analyse School Performance Data‘ or ’Analyse Pupil Performance Data‘, each of which would be followed by RAISE in brackets to maintain the brand identity. It seemed to us that the focus is much more on school than pupil performance, so the former would be more appropriate.

The production of a version for LAs, MATs and diocesan groups is being explored.

Your chance to test and comment

And when are we likely to see a working version? The aspiration is to provide the 2017 version earlier in the autumn term than is currently the case; but we can only wait and see if that happens.

Planned for the end of April 2017, however, is a release to schools of the new version containing 2016 data, to enable them to acquaint themselves with the new format and to provide final feedback before work starts using 2017 data.

What eventually emerges could well be different from what has been described here; what we saw was a work in progress. But the developers are keen to come up with a resource that meets the needs of school leaders, so do please provide them with feedback when the opportunity arises. We are continuing to work with the developers as they refine the tool and will keep members updated on its progress.

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About Colin Logan

One of SSAT's senior education leads, Colin has in-school experience as a deputy headteacher and headteacher.

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