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Fifteen minute forum

Transition Matrices: Thursday Morning Thriller 18th December 2014

It was my turn in the chair (again!), this time talking about the transition matrices functionality available to all teachers via Go4Schools. It is clear that a set of teacher owned data that allows individual staff members to drill into the detail of the progress that different students within teaching groups are making is a very powerful tool.  What is equally clear is that teachers do not have the time to spend hours manipulating data to find out what, for a significant proportion, their deep understanding of the individual students they teach is already telling them.  Imagine my joy when I became aware of a tool that can, in the time taken to perform a few clicks, provide detailed and useful analysis that will allow classroom teachers to accurately identify students that are stuck or not making expected progress!  Without wishing to make too big a thing of it I believe that this tool has the power to transform the way in which an incredibly busy classroom teacher can interact with and analyse the data that relates to the students they teach, with the potential to ensure that any interventions and support are accurately deployed.

Transition Matrices?

Transition matrices are a matrix that allows different progress measures to be plotted against a start point. In essence it allows the user to see how far from the baseline an individual student has got depending which measure you wish to use.  Currently teachers at Oriel can measure progress from Key Stage 2 results to target grade, current grade and professional prediction (the honest grade that teachers think a student will achieve at the end of the year or the course; depending on Key Stage). It is also possible to analyse progress in relation to external results retrospectively (useful for the post results reflections) Those who are used to dealing with Raise online will be familiar with the transition matrices for English and Maths; the Go4Schools tool allows this level of detail for all subjects and all groups within that subject and in real time when you can do something with the information!

The colour coding on the matrix shows the following:

Red: 2 levels below expected progress KS2-4 (1 level from KS2)

Yellow: 1 level below expected progress KS2-4 (2 levels from KS2)

Green: Expected progress KS2-4 (3 levels from KS2)

Purple: More than expected progress KS2-4 (4+ levels from KS2)

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 20.22.33

Bluffers Guide:

The key steps in making this tool work for you:

1) Select your individual teaching group by clicking on th relevant group code:

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 20.15.42

2) Select the grade type you want to use as the measurement from KS2 baseline (target, current level, professional prediction, external result):

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 20.30.06

3) Work out which students are in which position by clicking on the number in the relevant position on the matrix; this will then show a list of names on a new tab that can inform praise or an intervention action.

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 20.31.11

This tool has empowered those members of staff who have engaged with it to accurately and effectively manage praise and intervention.  It quickly sharpens focus on students who, as yet, have not made expected levels of progress as well as providing a holistic picture of class performance rather than allowing a teacher to become obsessed with the percentage of those students reaching a threshold.  Of particular note to me was the number of students in the classes of teachers who made use of this tool achieving the grade boundary above where they were predicted in January when they had a plus grade as a professional prediction (A+ / B+ etc).  The use of a fine grading system, alongside accurately targetted intervention, based upon accurate identification via the transition matrices tool allowed them to successfully achieve the next grade boundary in the summer exams.

Appraisal?

This tool firmly places rich data in the hands of the appropriate person; the classroom teacher.  It takes very little time to engage with and can quickly provide very important information.  It has the potential to be a really useful tool for use during the appraisal process; appraisers can have an informed discussion with the appraised about what is happening, with who and why.  Completed early enough this has the power to ensure that all parties know what the evolving picture is around the likely outcomes for teaching groups and the appropriate degrees of support can be offered as required; hopefully resulting in no surprises in August!

As with everything it will take time to support everyone to engage with this tool but I would say that if you are going to make one data based New Years resolution (I find it is best to only ever make one data related New Years resolution!) then to engage with this tool is probably something that you will not regret!

Disclaimer: Any data tool is only as good as the information it has within it so if you are not accurate with predictions or the quality of the information in the system is way off sadly this tool will not help!  Long story short: be as accurate as you can with predictions, not generous or harsh; just honest! Suddenly you may see why  the accuracy of predictions and attainment information is of such importance and inaccurate information contributes to my male pattern baldness!

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