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The importance of tracking student progress across time

Why you should track student progress across time

In my role as the Head of the Advanced Learning Program, the start of each semester brought a daunting task: reviewing the performances of Year 7 and 8 students to adjust our program's enrollment. This task, while critical, was time-consuming, involving the evaluation of five subjects per student. Despite the effort, the process was invaluable for making informed, data-driven decisions, allowing us to tailor our program to better serve each student's needs.

The importance of basing educational adjustments on solid evidence cannot be overstated. At university, we were taught the value of evidence-based decisions, a principle that proved its worth in practice. Knowing a student's performance trajectory across subjects enabled us to gauge the effectiveness of their participation in the advanced learning initiative. However, the meticulous collection and analysis of this evidence demanded a significant amount of time, highlighting a substantial challenge in applying this approach broadly across my teaching responsibilities.

While I managed to keep a broad overview of my students' progress, a detailed analysis of their skill development within my subjects remained elusive. For example, tracking improvements in specific areas such as point sentence construction was not systematically documented. This wasn't due to a lack of interest but rather the absence of a straightforward mechanism to capture this nuanced data. My reliance on internal pattern recognition to monitor my students was a testament to the need for a more structured approach to data capture.

The prospect of manually entering detailed skill performance data for each student, in addition to providing feedback, seemed insurmountable. The debate around the sufficiency of rubrics versus the need for explicit feedback only added to the complexity. While rubrics can guide students towards identifying areas for improvement, I firmly believed in the necessity of direct, specific feedback to support their learning effectively.

Mark My Words seeks to revolutionise this process by integrating the act of providing feedback with the completion of a detailed checklist-rubric. This innovation makes the previously daunting task of data collection a natural part of the grading process. Suddenly, tracking the development of specific skills, such as the precision of point sentences, becomes not only possible but effortless.

Understanding a student's skill development is crucial for targeted intervention. If a student repeatedly fails to incorporate a key element in their assessments, it signals a deeper issue than mere oversight. Mark My Words enables teachers to identify patterns, adjust teaching strategies, and intervene more effectively at early stages, preventing students from falling behind.

The integration of data collection into the assessment workflow with Mark My Words eliminates the tedium associated with traditional data gathering methods. By aligning this process with the marking workflow and focusing on skills relevant to classroom teaching, the tool transforms data into a powerful asset for educational decision-making.