Reading time: 3 minutes. Relevant course: A series of training events on ASP, the IDSR and data for both KS4 and KS5
SSAT senior education lead Colin Logan updates on Ofsted’s new approach to data
Those of you at a loose end at around 9pm last Saturday evening will no doubt have spotted and eagerly downloaded your school’s inspection data summary report (IDSR), which appeared at around that time.
The IDSR – Ofsted’s replacement for the inspection dashboard – is the first port of call for inspectors as part of their preparation. In a short inspection it will inform likely key lines of enquiry, although these should always be discussed and agreed with school leaders before any activity takes place.
I wrote about the proposed IDSR back in September’s blog piece, but the publication of the real thing merits one or two further observations.
It is a significant departure from the old dashboard, with a look and feel similar to the new performance tables and the RAISE replacement, ASP. The changes are much more than cosmetic, however.
Context is king
The IDSR puts the school’s context right at the front of the document instead of being hidden away at the end, as it was in the old dashboard. That emphasises Ofsted’s commitment to considering data in the light of the school’s context and the importance of taking the wider picture into account before reaching any preliminary judgements. Interestingly, school context does not feature at all in ASP, at least not at the moment, whereas it was very prominent in RAISEonline.
The front page no longer provides strengths and weaknesses, judgements that were purely data-driven with no human mediation. Instead we have ’areas to investigate’, which has an altogether different emphasis and connotation. One potential topic to look out for here, however, will be the suggestion that a secondary school’s results might have been affected by gaming the system through the use of certain subject entries or entry patterns that could have improved that school’s overall headline measures.
One intention behind the new format was to move away from data that could be over-analysed. For example, drilling down to disadvantaged students by their prior attainment grouping often produced numbers too small to make any justifiable judgements and could lead inspectors away from key issues elsewhere. The IDSR urges caution by identifying in grey any group of 10 or fewer and, more importantly, does not break down performance by more than one characteristic; so we have attainment by prior attainment and for disadvantaged students but not a combination of both. The aim is to reduce content to include only ’meaningful and significant data’.
Ongoing changes to assessment and accountability at the end of key stage 4 have made valid comparisons from year to year almost impossible. And yet most of us would agree that one year’s set of results should not be taken into account without considering trends over time. The IDSR attempts to get over this by showing three years’ worth of data for most measures and including percentile ranking to show how a school’s performance compared in each measure with all schools nationally each year.
Although the IDSR doesn’t show a breakdown of performance for students with SEND (because any such analyses in the past ignored the complex and varied nature of these students’ needs), Ofsted is stressing to schools and inspectors that the performance of these young people will still be very much part of an inspection. What school leaders can tell inspectors about the provision for and the outcomes of their students with SEND will be crucial.
IDSR no longer shows breakdown of performance for students with SEND (any such analyses ignored the complex and varied nature of these students’ needs), but Ofsted is still interested in provision and outcomes for these students
IDSRs for key stages 2 and 4 have now been published and the KS5 version is due any day. There will be a further update of the current reports – which only include unvalidated data – in the late spring. For KS4, this will include information about student destinations and for post-16 the completion and attainment progress measure for Tech Levels.
The KS5 version of the IDSR has one or two other characteristics worthy of note. Firstly, as the same IDSR will be used with school sixth forms and sixth form and FE colleges, school sixth forms will be compared with all post-16 institutions in the report, not just with each other.
Level 2 study programmes will be included and the tables showing the progress made by students who didn’t get an old grade C in English or maths have been greatly simplified to show the numbers involved in each subject, how many improved their grade and by how much, and the overall progress score. This will be highlighted if progress is greater by more than half or three quarters of a grade compared with the national average; or if it’s more than a quarter or a third of a grade below national. Any highlighting here will automatically transfer to the ’areas to investigate’ section at the front.
DfE reviewing its practice
Destinations have also been simplified but the usual health warning applies with this data: it refers to the cohort that left in 2015 and has been compiled using a range of government statistical returns. The DfE is aware of these limitations and is reviewing current practice. In the meantime, inspectors should greatly appreciate being given the information that schools themselves currently gather, with an acceptance that it will not have been externally validated in any way.
The context page for all key stages shows whether or not a school has met the current floor standard, or whether it fits in the coasting category at KS4. For KS5, around 5% of institutions will be below floor standards for 2017. The DfE intends to increase this by approximately 1 percentage point each year by raising the floor standard until it reaches 10% by 2022. As a result the floor standard will effectively become an indicator of rank order rather than of performance below a prescribed minimum level.
DfE intends to increase the KS5 floor standard by c1 percentage point each year, until it reaches 10% by 2022
Read more about data on the SSAT blog: How much confidence should we place in a progress measure?