Demonstrating Value-Added

Value-Added dashboards really showed the good work we do and have given us greater confidence in our Value-Added message as a school.

Campbell College Belfast is an early adopter of GL Assessment’s Value-Added Service, a joint initiative between GL Assessment and the Fischer Family Trust. Here, Head of Key Stage 3, Chris McIvor, explains how they are using the Value-Added Service to demonstrate the impact of their work with their students.

Campbell College has an academically broad range of students in its intake, yet it is judged on the attainment average for selective schools in Northern Ireland. As such, Chris feels that being judged on attainment alone doesn’t do justice to the work that the staff and school do for the students, so he wanted to look for an alternative measure.

“We compete with grammar schools, which are highly selective, so their starting point is several steps ahead. As such, we wanted a way to measure accurately the impact our teaching has on our students, regardless of the level of education they have when they join the school.”

Using CAT4 (insert R symbol) as a baseline measure, the Value-Added Service analyses examination results with verbal, non-verbal, quantitative and spatial ability data, as well as gender and birth dates.

The information is delivered via an easy-to-use dynamic dashboard that allows teachers to analyse in detail the performance of individual students, classes, subject groups or the whole school – and to compare the results against other schools using the service.

“The value-added measures are something we have been looking into for a few years now. We definitely needed them and believe they are a very important addition to what we do with CAT4,” Chris adds.

Chris is also particularly impressed with the visual representation of the data: “Previously we did this all in Excel spreadsheets, which took a lot of time, was visually difficult to make sense of and only provided rough calculations.

“GL Assessment’s Value-Added dashboards are more sophisticated than anything we can do in-house and are easy to understand. As a History teacher rather than a mathematician, I especially like the scatterplots. I like to be able to see the data in a way which tells the story of each student.

“The scatterplot showing the school average grade is spot on, and exactly what we need to show how the school is performing to a range of audiences including governors, teachers and parents.”

Chris also finds the subject dashboards are ideal for initiating conversations with colleagues as they are instantly helpful in comparing attainment, which may be masking under-performance, and value-added. “It can be very encouraging to see high value-added where attainment seems to be low,” he says.

Not only is Campbell College using the Value-Added dashboards to make sense of what is happening across the school, but they’ve found the whole experience easy to use and they’ve been well supported throughout. 

“The whole process is really simple and straight-forward and the support has been tremendous every step of the way – from getting set up and uploading the data, to the help we have received in making sense of the data. I can’t praise GL Assessment enough in the support they have given us.

“Although we are still learning to make full use of them, the Value-Added dashboards really showed the good work we do and have given us greater confidence in our Value-Added message as a school,” says Chris, who sees the service as the start of a process.

“Moving forwards, Campbell College wants to see how we can not only judge past performance but use the value-added journey of students through the College to improve future performance.”