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A strategic approach to setting, tracking & reviewing targets

Posted in Managing Data

21-10-2013 15-27-40Having a sophisticated target strategy doesn’t have to be super-complicated.  Perhaps sometimes the whole topic of targets can seem like a black art rather than a science?

When it comes to setting targets, it is true that setting targets requires a certain amount of judgement – but that does not mean it needs to be left to chance and we will discuss below some tactics for understanding whether targets appear to be challenging.

Ofsted states that one of the key attributes of schools which have ambition for their pupils is ‘Close tracking’.  This is characterised by a school which regularly assesses pupils’ progress towards aspirational targets throughout the year.  CASPA can help you keep a close eye on progress towards targets.

And at the end of the year, do you:

  1. Analyse pupils’ success in meeting the targets you set for them?
  2. Review how good your target setting was last time round so that you improve next time?

Setting & validating targets

You might set targets outside of CASPA (manually, in a spreadsheet, etc) or you might use CASPA’s ‘Generate expected outcome levels’ feature to kick-start target setting discussions (more info via Help | Guidance notes | Using CASPA to inform target setting).  Either way, you will end up with a set of targets recorded in CASPA that you expect/hope are challenging – but are they?  The word ‘challenging’ doesn’t mean just one thing.  The following could all be construed as challenging:

  • A target that will result in pupils making better than expected progress.  This is a statistical comparison – ‘better than expected’ is a comparison against any of the following in CASPA:
    1. CASPA’s benchmarks, using category of need, or ignoring need
    2. Progression Materials Median (expected) and Upper Quartiles (better than expected) for pupils below NC Level 1
    3. Two or three levels progress for pupils at NC Level 1 or above
    4. Your professional judgement, with knowledge of pupils’ circumstances, health, etc

31-10-2013 11-20-52Using just a few of CASPA’s reports will help you gain a clear understanding about how your targets compare against ‘expected’ progress.  Click on the icon (right) for an article that explores how you can use CASPA to validate your targets.

Close tracking

Close tracking in this context is all about ensuring that you know whether pupils are on track to meet their targets.  This gives you clear warning when a pupil is likely to not meet targets and time to intervene.  There are therefore two key steps:

  1. Assess pupils frequently – termly, or at another appropriate frequency
  2. Analyse the progress made already and progress required in order to meet targets and help make a judgement about whether the pupil is on track

So close tracking is all about continual assessment and using that data immediately to drive CASPA’s reporting, thereby keeping a close eye on progress towards targets and being able to act quickly where necessary.

31-10-2013 11-21-51You can update the pupil’s current assessment data as often as you wish in CASPA and instantly use current-year reporting.  Click on the icon (right) for an article that explores how you can use CASPA as part of continual assessment and tracking of progress during the academic year.

Reviewing targets

At the end of a year, you want to know whether a pupil met his/her targets and whether groups of pupils met targets.  For summer 2014 targets, this mean that you will do this towards the end of the coming summer term.

In the meantime, did you review last year’s cohort?  Last year’s data could well inform your target setting this term – is there one member of staff who tends to over-challenge, or under-challenge?  Avoid this happening again by specifically looking for trends.

Many of CASPA’s reports allow you to use targets, but when it comes to reviewing success (or otherwise) in achieving targets, two key reports are well worth focussing on.  It is all about comparing targets against actual attainment achieved – ‘Target vs Actual’

31-10-2013 11-23-09Click on the icon (right) for an article that explores two specific Target vs actual reports; one that provides all of the detail for an individual pupil, and one that provides summary information for a group of pupils.