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Do you know your data?

How well do you know your the data of your class?

Over the years, I have worked at, or with roughly 20 schools. In this time I have seen some unbelievably talented teachers. However, many of the teachers I have worked with do not fully understand data, how this works and how it is interpreted by senior leaders in schools, advisors and even Ofsted. I have prepared this blog post to assist teachers that want to know a little more about data and how to interpret it.

Here’s a list of my class (fake) reading data since July 2012:

As you can see, we have a list of names, July 2012 data and Feb 2013 data taken from reading assessments. You may have noticed that some pupils have been awarded a ‘+’. It’s important to note at this point that schools are measured in points not sub levels. The RAISE ONLINE that is produced by Ofsted to assist schools and inspectors takes into account progress and attainment based on points. For every sub level there are 2 points! Here’s a little chart to help explain:

You can see clearly that traditionally, points have used odd numbers, but what you might not know is that when the RAISE ONLINE calculates scores fo your previous Year 6 pupils, it calculates using even numbers too. More and more schools are now calculating progress using both odd and even numbers. This allows schools to show a more accurate picture of current progress. There is a completely different argument centred around how accurately schools can assess but for now… we’ll go with the data above for my class. The above spreadsheet shows the name of the child, the level they got in their reading assessment in July 2012 and the reading assessment they achieved in the most recent February assessment. For each sub level progress this equates to 2 points progress. If the pupil was only a mark off the next sub level, they are awarded an additional point making what looks like a 3b+ or a 4c+.

You may have heard some people talk about Average Points Progress. This is a calculation of all the progress made by the pupils in your class, divided by the number of pupils. Using the data above, here’s the calculation:

Total points progress = 62
Number of pupils in the class = 30

62 divided by 30 = 2.07

The Average Points Progress for the above class of children therefore is 2.07 points. This is for the first half of the year. You could assume that the pupils would make the same progress for the remaining half of the year. If the 2.07 is therefore doubled, you could say that your class are on track to make an average 4.14 points progress. Ofsted require around 3.5 points progress in each Key Stage 2 class to be seen to be making ‘Good’ progress and around 4 points progress in each Key Stage 2 class to be making outstanding progress. Therefore you ‘could’ argue that based on the above data, your class are on track to be making outstanding progress.

This however, is only the top of the iceberg! I would expect teachers coming to a pupil progress meeting to also have a good understanding of who are not making progress and the reasons why this is. If you have managed to read this post to this point without falling asleep, maybe you could continue the discussion about this class in the comments section.

Who is not making the progress they could be? What factors influence pupil progress from year to year. Why might it be important to look at previous progress when looking at individual pupil progress?

February 18, 2013


Leave a comment
  1. Dughall
    February 19, 2013 at 8:47 am #

    Thank you, David. The numbers game is an essential part of effective teaching and you have unpicked some of the knots. I have always thought that use of *levels* with their sub-levels (and sub-sub-levels) is much better understood by clear,numerical interpretations of attainment and progress, hence the usefulness of your chart. As a school governor, an understanding of this kind of data is a non-negotiable and I will be pointing others fellow governors in this direction.

    And all of this *before* we start adding additional considerations such as summer-borns, gender, ethicity etc to the mix. Thanks for holding our hands with these first few steps into the minefield.

    • mitchell
      February 19, 2013 at 9:40 am #

      All teachers should have an understanding of this! It wasn’t long ago that I had no idea about measuring data and progress in this way. Appreciate your comment!

  2. Ms S
    February 19, 2013 at 9:00 am #

    I often wonder if low ability students can make progress at the same rate as more able students. Two sub-levels of progress is a much greater percentage of 4b into 5c than it is of 6b into 7c. Or am I missing something? Thanks.

    • mitchell
      February 19, 2013 at 9:43 am #

      Hi, thanks for commenting! I don’t fully understand what you mean, could you explain a little further?


      • Joe
        February 19, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

        They mean like an interest rate rise in that
        from 4 to 5 is an increase of 25% but from 6 to 7 is
        only a 16.66% increase. All depends what the levels
        and sub levels mean.

  3. Joe Dryland
    February 19, 2013 at 9:05 am #

    Hi David. We use a great APS EXCEL tracking/progress grid. I devised it based on a grid that my NPQH placement school used. It tells the whole story of a child’s learning journey and calculates current APS etc etc. our staff love it!. If you’re interested in having a look then DM me at @daddy5d

    • mitchell
      February 19, 2013 at 9:38 am #

      DM on the way!! 🙂

    • ian pratt
      March 30, 2013 at 8:24 am #

      would it be possible to see your grid Joe sounds very interesting.

  4. Cherrylkd
    February 19, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    I enjoyed this post. I’m assessment leader in special school and life is very different. The post is timely as I’m spending time researching if I should use APS for my school. Up to now I have decided against it as the progress is more likely to be 2 points over a key stage. I don’t think I could show enough progress with APS to do my hard working students justice. To make it a little clearer what do you do with Daniel? He is already at 4C. He can’t be expected to make 4 points progress to be Outstanding surely? Do you reduce the targets for him? This would be a good starting point for my half term’s work. Thanks.

    • mitchell
      February 19, 2013 at 10:03 am #

      Thanks for commenting. My opinion is that I would look at his progress last year. If he made good to outstanding progress last year, there could be some consolidation work to do there so this would be discussed at a pupil progress meeting. Certainly nothing wrong with aiming high but I would take a look at progress last year.

  5. Kellie
    February 19, 2013 at 10:14 am #

    Great post. I’ve just started NQT so any information on this is helpful. We use progress ladders that show sub levels and points in order to track progress this way. Our most recent staff meeting included training to store data in Integris using these points to get a clearer picture of progress. All new to me as wasn’t shown on PGCE. Always learning.

    • mitchell
      February 19, 2013 at 10:24 am #

      Thanks for your comment – I can only imaging how complex this must be in your first year. I was in my 10th year when I managed to get my head around the subject of data and the complex analysis around it. Good luck and if I can help… I will!

  6. Jason
    February 19, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    The tracking system (Target Tracker) we use in school doesn’t allow us to put down even numbers APS. However, I always think it is useful to show children are progressing within a subLevel, especially as they are only likely to be moving up a sub level in 2 of the 6 terms. In other words, they ‘see’ no progress in their level in 4 half-terms!

    • mitchell
      February 19, 2013 at 10:59 am #

      I have had many conversations with the people at Target tracker about allowing points to be input. They point blank refused to entertain the issue! 🙁

  7. Miss F
    February 19, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    Hi David,

    Have just been looking at your post and completely agree with you on how important it is for teachers to understand their class data and how it is used and interpreted on a whole school level.

    I’m in my third year of teaching now and have recently taken on more responsibility within the school as Literacy Co-ordinator. Our school has recently become a hub teaching school for a local university and I have been asked to deliver sessions to fourth year BEd and PGCE students on the wide subject area of data. I delivered my first session last week and perhaps mind boggled the 20 students with some of the ‘NEED TO KNOW’ information. It seems to be that universities really need to have a stronger focus on data and how it is ACTUALLY used in the classroom and school.

    If it’s helpful, I have created an information pack and powerpoint that I am happy to share if you direct message me.

    Thanks 🙂

    • Suzy
      February 19, 2013 at 11:25 am #

      This is a really useful post! I did GTP, which was fab in terms of lots of the practicalities of everyday life, but there was NOTHING on data other than what I picked up from colleagues. I’m in my fourth year teaching and still finding my way when it comes to class data. Your explanation was really useful, and these comments make me feel less alone in not having a grip on this area.
      (And Miss F, I’d love to see the info pack and powerpoint too!!)

      • mitchell
        February 19, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

        Hi Suzy,

        Thanks for commenting. The whole idea of the post was to try and produce something easy for teachers to understand. Glad it was of use to you.

      • Miss F
        February 21, 2013 at 11:24 am #

        Hiya Suzy, yeah no problem at all…I don’t have a blog on here at the moment so cant direct message( didn’t think that through). So if you follow me on Twitter and send me a message I’ll email you over what I’ve got 🙂 .

  8. Annie Gunthorpe
    February 19, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    Staff understanding data has been an upward struggle over recent years as the majority of teachers would say that they do their best for all pupils. The realisation of how data can pinpoint who is doing well in general, those who are exceeding expectations and those who are continuing to slip is vital to address teaching and learning to enable all their pupils to make good progress. Getting staff to use the ofsted criteria for good against the pupils who are failing to make progress (either currently or historically) and to write an action plan for these pupils really sharpens their focus – what strategies have they got in place? Do they give these pupils more or less first quality teaching opportunities? This approach has meant that children who are not succeeding feature as a priority on teachers planning and assessment.
    Your chart is really clear for those who understand sub levels but have not yet got to grips with APS – I will certainly share this with my staff. It is my understanding that in KS1 10 points is now satisfactory but you need 12 points across ks1 to be good? The emphasis seems to be suggesting that 2A is now more in line with national expectations rather than 2b if you are to be considered a ‘good’ school.

    • mitchell
      February 19, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

      Hi Annie,

      Thanks for adding some great discussion to the post. You are correct that 10 points n KS1 is now ‘Requires Improvement’ so 12 points is needed to indicate ‘Good’ progress. We split this for 6 points in Year 1 and 6 points in Year 2.

      • anna
        February 27, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

        Can i ask is this 12points from fsp scores or from autumn term assessments?

        Thank you

        • mitchell
          February 27, 2013 at 7:44 pm #

          Hi Anna, DM me your email address and I can send you a chart that can help ploy EYFS points against NC levels etc. Shouldn’t really do that but sometimes HAVE to to be able to show progress.

          • Julie
            November 10, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

            HI Mitchell

            do you have a chart that plots the new emerging/expected/exceeding grade at the end of the Foundation stage to NC levels? If you have I would really appreciate a copy.
            Many thanks

          • David Pott
            February 20, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

            Hi David,

            A lot of schools have asked me about plotting EYFS against NC points to show progress through KS1 – so could I have a copy too, please!

            Many schools have been trying to do a baseline NC sublevel assessment as early as possible in Y1 Autumn term and plotting progress from there (as 10 points usually)


  9. Clare
    February 19, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    Hi – all this such a very helpful post. I am with Suzi on the amount of training regarding data I received on my GTP course. I am now an NQT teaching year 3 in a small junior school in a deprived area. Half my class arrived from the Infants school next door as 1A and below reading, writing and in maths including several chn on P scales with no recognised or diagnosed SEN. I understand that I am accountable for their progress during this academic year. What I am unsure about is, for example, is in future years, will I be held responsible that they did not achieve nationally expected levels or will this still be tracable back to their KS1 experiences? My school does not use target tracker. Thank you for any help or advice.

    • mitchell
      February 19, 2013 at 9:27 pm #

      It is your responsibility to do the best you can do to make each child make as much progress as possible. In Year 3, outstanding progress would be above 4 points progress which equates to 2 sub levels. If some of your pupils are below a 2b, it could be argued that you could be challenged to make 6 points progress for these pupils. It would be unreasonable for someone to expect you to be responsible for getting your pupils back on track up to national averages. All you can do is do your best to ensure 4 points progress and for those well below where they should be, possibly 6 points progress. Having said all that, it is the school’s responsibility to support you too. Regular pupil progress meetings, support and intervention should be available too!

  10. Deivis Pothin
    February 19, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

    Thanks for the post, David. What do you recommend to avoid the Yr6 dip, when children were previously assessed with APP and all of a sudden they don’t perform as well when they sit past SATs papers? It’s really frustrating when you know they can do it, but they are not able to show it in 45mins or maybe because they are not used to the test wording, for example. Would optional SATs in the previous years alongside teacher assessment be a reasonable solution?

    • mitchell
      February 19, 2013 at 10:21 pm #

      Yes, quite possibly. Unfortunately, these SATs test do require some skill to complete. Many schools do use QCA Optional SATS papers not only to assist in the levelling process but also to help get the pupils ready for the tests at the end of Y6.

  11. Paola
    February 20, 2013 at 9:32 pm #

    Thanks for this David, we are currently thinking about asking teachers to use NC points so i will direct them to your blog! Could I ask how do you measure progress for pupils who begin KS1 still on the EYFS Profile Points?

    • mitchell
      February 20, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

      Measuring progress between EYFS and NC is not an exact science. They are assessing different things. There is a chart that I have used in the past:

      Here’s a link to it. It’s a rough guide but just keep in mind that EYFS and KS1 assessments are assessing different things:

      • Paola
        February 21, 2013 at 12:29 am #

        Yes, this is how I have done it in the past but know that it is not strictly accurate, and it all changes again next year with the new EYFS Profile! Thanks for the table though, useful.

  12. Chris Raynerd
    February 21, 2013 at 12:05 am #

    David, great post. I’m interested how this maps onto the secondary system in which we are looking at levels of progress ks2 to gcse. In which a level 5 equates, if I recall correctly, to an “E” grade, level 6 an “D” grade, 7 a C and so on. Consequently, more than expected would be 5 levels of progress, a student coming in with a ks2 score of a 5, should be making 5 more levels of progress to an “A*” at gcse.

    I haven’t really looked into the primary system you discuss here of two point levels for each sub level. I presume there is nothing stopping us adopting this same strategy at ks3 based in their ks2 scores. Just to confirm, you are looking for 5 points progress a year, two and half sub levels, each year? We currently just say “2” sub levels of progress in each year, 7 to 9, but adopting this would be a more accurate method.

    • mitchell
      February 21, 2013 at 12:14 am #

      Hi Chris

      We aim to get 4 points which equates to 2 sub levels in a year normally. This system not only is more accurate, it also allows you to show progress when previously not possible. This is important as we are now finding ourselves in a position to justify data and even prove in year data.

  13. anna
    February 27, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    This is great such a clear way to show it thank you for sharing? Can i ask what good progress would be in ks1 please?
    Thank you

  14. Sue
    March 29, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

    I appreciate that every school is different as an experiment myself and another school decided that teachers time would be better spent perfecting good quality teaching and therefore teachers did not track pupils levels of progress for a year, results were astonishing they made above expected progress and particularly those lower attaining pupils made outstanding progress, while there is a need to track progress the obsession may be detrimental to outstanding quality creative teaching and learning.

    • mitchell
      March 29, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

      I’m struggling with this if I’m honest. I still believe that teachers need to understand data and how THEIR data is used by SLT. I’m interested to find out more though. Could you elaborate?

      • Sue
        March 30, 2013 at 12:01 am #

        Apologies your article is very good and informative for teachers wanting to inderstand APS – just wish that schools didn’t have to be so data obsessed but know that many teachers are under pressure from SLT re the importance of data! Just my bug bear that we as a profession may loose sight of how children learn, but your article is helpful as many are unclear if how APS etc is calculated I understood that from the end of KS1 to KS2 pupils who made 16 points progress was considered outstanding difficult for those who reached level 3 at KS1 unless of course they obtain L6 …. Now that’s a whole different debate

        • mitchell
          March 30, 2013 at 12:08 am #

          No apologies needed Sue, a good debate! Yes, level 3 to 6 is indeed a challenge for Primary Schools. There is also now talk of Level 4 at KS1 too!

          • Dughall McCormick
            March 30, 2013 at 12:18 am #

            Personally, I would be *very* skeptical of a Level 4 in writing at KS1. I just don’t think 7 yr olds have the necessary experience, maturity (call it what you will) to fulfill a L4.

  15. Graham
    March 29, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

    I understand the way that data is used and that it’s an important method of monitoring progress but unless assessment is standardised, the data loses a lot of its relevance. For example I teach ICT, at KS3 we use APP and our groups rotate to see a new teacher each half term. We teach different units which require different levels of skill and will be assessed in different ways. A pupil achieving level 4a in one unit might only achieve a 4c in the next unit, implying that the pupil has somehow regressed. Likewise they might only receive a 3b then in the next a 4a, maybe because of the type of assessment, the style of the teacher, the attendance or any number of other variables. It doesn’t mean that the pupil has made 4 sun levels of progress in one term.

    I think there is far too much emphasis put on data which is generally not evidence based or consistent. It seems the only reason to understand the data is to be able to play the data game to make your own results look more impressive.

    • mitchell
      March 29, 2013 at 11:48 pm #

      I think the same can be said for most subjects, for example: different genres in writing or different areas of mathematics. We are judged as a school on our data. I fact we are judged on fine sub levels and points averaged out, displayed on a league table and now the pay of teachers depends upon it too.

      I think it can only be a good thing for teachers to understand how data is used.

  16. Paul
    March 30, 2013 at 6:59 am #

    A really good starting point for a very necessary discussion about APS which in my experience is not well understood by many teachers, SLT members or even headteachers!

    This starting point should then lead to observations about the children that can and cannot show required progress based on their starting points, due to the restrictions of a number based accountability system like this.

    I use Target Tracker and have done for years. Although it doesn’t allow to input APS scores it does allow to switch between APS and 2 point progress to observe and make arguments about progress.

    I believe these conversations are important for EVERYBODY working with children and have recently shared this with all of my governors.

    However what it should lead to, and what is more important, is that teachers understand the levels beneath the data i.e. is there a shared understanding of how these numbers are determined in the first place.

    I have spent many many hours analysing data but none of it is any good unless the assessments that generate it are worth the computer software package that they are entered into.

    Does the pupil’s 3a writing in Year 2 look the same in Year 6 (or even Year 7 ~ another contention often) because all of these classes have probably got children at this level. And even if it does in writing (because most schools carry out writing moderation) what about maths or geography or art? Knowledge of the curriculum MUST be the starting point for teachers, NOT the data sheet. If teachers do not understand the next steps in the curriculum how can they possibly be planning for progress each day/week/term?

    Sorry, what was meant to be a quick thank you comment has turned into a rant. Always a very interesting debate (even before 7am on an Easter Saturday morning!)

  17. Mr P
    March 30, 2013 at 8:34 am #

    This is a great piece about data and how to interpret it David. Where I struggle is in my modular Science teaching children do a biology module and understand it really well having picked up a good understanding of these concepts in other ways since they last studied the area and then come to a chemistry module where they have no understanding or previous learning to call upon. even completion of APP tasks and other forms of assessmnet suggest they have gone backwards even when making good progress in this new and complex area. Any ideas anyone?

  18. Eaglestone
    March 30, 2013 at 9:21 am #

    We take an arbitrary measure that was designed as an overall descriptor for the end of a key stage and arbitrarily split it into 3 because it looks like kids are not making progress on this scale year-on-year. We then arbitrarily split those ‘sub-levels’ into 2 for the purpose of quantifying progress so that we can do some stats.

    We assume progress through the levels is linear, students make regular progress through the levels throughout their school careers, there is broad equivalence between levels between subjects, there is broad equivalence between levels between schools, and there is broad equivalence between levels between teachers.

    We have the nonsense situation described in the comments above where a child is 4b one term and then 4c the next. No they’re not: they are broadly at level 4 (or their output is anyway). The ICT example is more apt because many schools enter their year 9s for terminal exams. Getting a GCSE equivalent equates to a level 7!? Judging the work again the NC or APP often suggests the evidence (not the student) is level 5. What do you report?

    The whole notion of sublevels is deeply flawed as are the resulting progress measures. I hope the current review comes up with something more enlightened because we need a robust way of measuring effectiveness and schools are, and should be, accountable. However, given our economists’ mindset of only focussing on what’s been numerically ‘measured’ I fear not.

    And what about turning average point scores into ‘targets’ based on FFT B and D…

    Apologies for the moan. Your post is helpful and clearly describes what teachers need to know about how they are measured. This just happens to be a hobby horse of mine. 🙂

  19. Matt
    June 25, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

    Just came across this post and find it very interesting. I teach in Wales (and get inspected by Estyn rather than Ofsted). I am interested in how your sub-levels are defined as we don’t seem to have them in our National Curriculum orders. We just have level descriptors for levels 1-8. Are they equivalent to ‘just beginning to….’, ‘developing the ability to…’ and ‘can…’ (e.g. use punctuation to mark sentences)? My understanding of the purpose of level descriptors is that they are to be used to assess pupils’ attainment at the end of the Key Stage. We make a ‘best fit’ judgement based on performance over the year as we do not have SATs.

    • Matt
      October 17, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

      So how are sub-levels defined?

  20. Donna
    October 8, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    Hi Just wondering if these figures are still the same isn’t ofsted wanting 3 full levels in KS2 from KS1 – KS2
    Do that would mean the 4 points in each class would no longer be outstanding the points would need to increase to 6 ?

  21. Jason Hughes
    January 8, 2014 at 12:14 am #

    One thing that always puzzles me is how 3 is a level 3 at KS1? When tracking progress in school do you call it a 3C or 3B? Government data equates it to 27 points, hence a 3B. However, this means a 5c at the end of year 6 would be less than satisfactory progress (i.e only 10 points). So, my question is, do you go with what the Government data says or do you go with the measure that is more useful for tracking progress?


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