Data and equity make learning visible: an Invitational Road Map

John Young, Principal of Clarkson Community High School, has seen the difference visible learning makes. An emphasis on research and data has focused teachers’ attention on the why, how and what of accelerating student learning.
Feb 23, 2018

“We, too, have a dream for developing passion in learning and developing an education system that values inviting all students to come and learn, to belong, and to reinvest in their own learning.” Hattie & Zierer, 2018, (p. 167)

Making learning visible within an invitational framework is central to school improvement at Clarkson Community High School (CCHS) in Western Australia. Overcoming inequalities associated with the Index for Community and Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA) and associated background factors of disadvantage, has provided a challenging context for school improvement and reform. An emphasis on research and data has focused teachers’ attention on the why, how and what of accelerating student learning.

At CCHS the importance of data and equity when making learning visible is always contained within an unconditional circle of intentional respect, trust, optimism and care.  At Clarkson the faculty and staff recognize that each student is unique. Each student is able, valuable and responsible and is treated accordingly. 

Our school is always concerned with the broad array of real life factors in the ecosystem of each student.  Test scores and evaluations on standardized tests are secondary to developing decent, healthy, and productive citizens. As Nel Noddings said, “The secret of school success is caring teachers who know what they’re doing and have time to do it.” William Purkey, John Novak and Bettty Siegel’s work on Invitational Learning Theory recognizes that it is the people who breathe life into a school and make it flourish. When people in a school use positive psychology underpinned by self-concept theory, school climate is optimized and school culture inexorably improves.

In a related way, Hattie’s mindframes in Visible Learning (2009) determined collective teacher efficacy is one of the highest impact factors on student learning (effect size: 1.57). Another high impact factor on learning is feedback (effect size: 0.73).

Invitational Education Theory illustrates the power of intentionality in sending messages of care, trust, respect and optimism to others. Hattie and Zierer (2018) believe teacher success is the practice and continual refinement of ten behaviours or mindframes.  The effective analysis of data measures teacher impact and makes professional reflective practice meaningful.

At CCHS, performance management and line management are based on more than setting targets and giving feedback.  Moreover, the alignment of both teamwork and individual goals are focused in the same direction and drive the momentum for individual change.

Leadership focuses on feedback to teachers that impact student learning. Feedback has a positive impact on students and applying feedback to teachers produces positive impact on teacher learning. Teachers are constantly engaged in conversations about building student capacity improving their professional capital.

At Clarkson in 2018, professional learning is central to improving teacher expertise by encouraging passion and enthusiasm for teachers to have positive impact and the data to demonstrate ever-improving competence and proficiency. Professional learning for teachers improves cognisance of the mindframes, the behaviours defined by Hattie and Zierer. Teachers need to intentionally adopt these mindframes to maximize student success and accelerate learning. Inexorably the data must ‘talk’.

It is pivotal that a focus on the systematic analyses of student data is made in a conscious effort to identify and better understand the why, how and what of accelerated learning.  

Hence at Clarkson an important Process means teachers are encouraged to learn from each student’s improvements in National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) and Online Literacy and Numeracy Assessment (OLNA). The starfish illustration developed by William Purkey represents the five domains of Invitational Learning Theory and Practice. It represents in a very simple way the complexity of options at any point in time.   Although not included in the illustration, a sixth ‘P’, Pressure, creates change by employing different combinations of the other five domains.

The goal is to ensure a year’s worth of learning for a year’s worth of teaching.

Teachers have ever-increasing awareness of their impact due to the 5-week data review, line management and performance management processes. The data analysis cycle gives an opportunity for prompt, effective change. Sharing data across learning areas each fifth week fosters collaboration and strengthens professional capital by focusing on increasingly effective interventions.

Learning is made increasingly visible for both teachers and students because: (i) feedback uses familiar language that is clear and concise: (ii) feedback is explicitly monitored, and (iii) feedback clearly articulates clear, progressive steps to accelerate student learning.

The OLNA Test results for CCHS provide a guide to student achievement over time. It is a credible, value-add metric that is based on a matched cohort from NAPLAN to OLNA. The West Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) mandates students must demonstrate competency in literacy and numeracy.

Students who achieve a Band 8 in NAPLAN automatically have demonstrated competency and do not have to sit OLNA. All other students must pass OLNA in Year 10, 11 or 12 and achieve a 3 in each assessment with results scaled 1-3. The 2017 results for CCHS are presented in Table 1.

Data provide insights that help to equip teachers to better understand the mindsets of students. Teachers’ understanding of the relationship between data and equity is fundamental when attempting to maximize their classroom impact.  

Teachers at Clarkson Community High School understand that all Australians need a fair go and that education is a pathway out of disadvantage.  

Invitational Learning Theory and the Visible Learning mindframes are each concerned with the thinking required to accelerate learning, overcome disadvantage, and maximize impact.

Good teachers employ effective strategies by adopting mindframes to invite student involvement.