Analysis and discussion of data

Analysis and discussion of data


Systematic practices are developed to ensure that decisions are based on qualitative and quantitative evidence at the classroom and whole school level about student achievement and whole school effectiveness.

Analysis and discussion of data

NSW School Examples


This PowerPoint from Rosemeadow Public School situated near Campbelltown, describes the extensive analysis of student data when planning for differentiated teaching that addresses student learning needs at a whole school, classroom and student level.  

  This Powerpoint from Ingleburn Public School in south-west Sydney, describes the critical role of transformational leadership in the use of data to inform classroom practice across the whole school. The school allocated and managed human resources effectively across the whole school to support the continuous improvement of student outcomes. 
  A Powerpoint presentation from MacKillop Catholic College, Warnervale, describes how reflection on data allowed the school to set goals, targets and strategies across the whole school to enhance student outcomes. Effective instructional leadership, professional development and the formation of teams has changed practice, with an emphasis on the systematic delivery of the most effective practices. 
  This video about Punchbowl Public School in Sydney, illustrates how the collection and analysis of student performance data has informed a whole school improvement agenda for literacy and has allowed individual student learning needs to be effectively addressed. 

The Principal of Farmborough Road Public School, south of Wollongong, reflects on the use of evidence to select a numeracy strategy and the ongoing analysis of student data to embed a sustainable, whole-school approach. The evidence formed the basis of targeted investments in physical and human resources. 

  This PowerPoint from Maroubra Bay Public School illustrates some of the dramatic changes in student performance which have resulted from an expert teaching team implementing an explicit whole-school reform agenda, with their efforts guided by reflection on student data.
  • Analysis and discussion of data - in detail

    A starting point for planning

    Analysis and discussion of data is a key prerequisite for ensuring that teachers make informed planning decisions for effective pedagogy, based on current and comprehensive data about students’ learning needs. Teachers are then in a position to engage in differentiated teaching on the basis of clear and documented evidence.

    Masters (2010) suggests that high priority be given:

    to the school-wide analysis and discussion  of systematically collected data on student outcomes, including academic, attendance and behavioural outcomes.  Data analyses consider overall school performance as well as the performances of students from identified priority groups; evidence of improvement/regression over time; performances in comparison with similar schools; and, in the case of data from tests such as NAPLAN, measures of growth across the years of school.


    Leading the effective use of data

    The principal has a critical role in ensuring that a whole school approach is developed. The effective principal encourages supportive professional activity around the effective use of data and the development of a consistent culture of using data for informed decision making.

    The school leader also has responsibility for ensuring that all members of staff not only understand the protocols for gathering relevant data but are also able to understand, analyse and interpret student data for the purposes of providing differentiated teaching and learning experiences.

    Evidence from case studies in NSW schools directly confirms observations by Masters (2010) that the effective use of data is evident when:

    • the school has developed and is implementing a plan for the systematic collection of a range of student outcome data including both test data and quality classroom assessments
    • the school has identified and can demonstrate that it is using tests and other assessment tools to monitor school wide achievement and progress in areas of national focus such as literacy, numeracy and science
    • an individual or team has been given responsibility for planning the collection and analysis of school-wide data and for summarising, displaying and communicating data to the school community
    • all teaching staff have access to a broad range of student achievement data and use it to analyse, study and display individual and cohort progress
    • professional development is provided to build staff skills in analysing and interpreting data
    • school leaders, as part of their responsibilities, regularly work with their teams to review achievement data relating to their areas
    • time is set aside for in-depth staff discussions of achievement data and of strategies for the continuous improvement of student outcomes
    • the school systematically monitors other performance data, including data relating to student attendance
    • school disciplinary absences and other behavioural data, school completion, student destinations and stakeholder perceptions and engagement
    • data are used in building a culture of self-evaluation and reflection across the school; and the school uses student achievement data to drive school-level decisions, interventions and initiatives.


    Using data effectively in the classroom

    Research clearly indicates the importance of ensuring that teachers’ decisions for planning of learning experiences are thoroughly informed by a range of student learning data.

    In order to achieve exemplary practices like those outlined above, the NSW case studies indicate that effective student data management starts with schools and teaching staff being clear about the following issues:

    • what the teachers need to understand about students
    • what analysis they need to undertake to understand that
    • what data they need to undertake the analysis
    • what format they need for data to be presented in to be able to analyse it most easily
    • what type of data management and reporting system they need to collate, store, analyse and report on the data effectively in the classroom, whole year and whole school level


    Support for teachers’ effective use of data

    Effective NSW schools in the National Partnership on Literacy and Numeracy managed these processes in different ways. A small number of schools provided teaching staff with a suite of tools to help them step through the process and encouraged teachers to use them as part of their regular professional teaching/learning team activities. Other schools scheduled regular data review meetings (eg. fortnightly/monthly) as part of their standard calendar of staff meetings, providing dedicated time for staff to focus on the processes, to review different aspects of their students’ performance data and to develop strategies to address specific learning gaps/needs over a series of weeks.

    A limited number of schools also allocated a certain amount of student free time each semester to allow staff to participate in structured/facilitated data sharing and analysis activities (often timed to coincide with the annual curriculum planning cycle). In some schools, leaders played an active role in these data analysis sessions and used them to get a better understanding of how the student population was performing and to signal/reinforce the importance that the school placed on the effective use of data.



    Erebus International (2012). Evaluation of the take-up and sustainability of new literacy and numeracy practices in NSW schools – Final Report for Phase 1, undertaken on behalf of the NSW Minister for Education

    Erebus International (2013). Evaluation of the take-up and sustainability of new literacy and numeracy practices in NSW schools – Final Report for Phase 2, undertaken on behalf of the NSW Minister for Education

    Masters, G. (2010) Teaching and Learning School Improvement Framework. Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER)

Whole school factors

A whole school systematic approach to collecting, analysing, interpreting and tracking data focuses on outcomes of student literacy and numeracy learning.


Classroom/teacher factors

Teachers' decisions about student learning needs are strongly informed by a range of robust student data.

Teachers track student progress through constant monitoring of student performance data. 


Individual factors

Students engage in critical reflection about their progress in literacy and numeracy through feedback of meaningful data.


See also

Read the guidelines on Principles of Assessment and Evidence in NSW public schools

Read a paper by Michele Bruniges about using evidence to in teaching and learning to maximise student outcomes.

View this research on linking school targets to classroom practice from evidence-based planning for teaching and learning observed at Rosemeadow Public school.

Read this edition of the Australian Education Review by Gabrielle Matters on Using Data to Support Learning in Schools, published in 2006 by ACER.

Review this research from the University of New England into the effectiveness of the QuickSmart program closing the gap between low-and average-achieving students in the areas of Numeracy and Literacy and in building student confidence.

Explore resources around data-driven decision-making produced by e-Lead, a Washington-based organisation.