Having only lead the use of data for learning a short period of time, I have already read, heard and felt a degree of distrust in the use of FFT for art and design and other creative subjects.
At the heart of the confusion is the incorrect assertion that FFT (or RAISEonline for that matter) provides ‘target’ grades for art and design based on prior performance in core subjects. This is simply incorrect, on not one but two counts.
First, these are not targets grades they are estimates, and second, FFT does not target art and design performance based on English, Maths and Science ability.
As I understand it, FFT analyses the performance of all candidates in GCSE art and design from the previous year, against their common starting points in Key Stage 2.
FFT use prior performance in core subjects only to ‘group students’ with the same starting point. FFT then calculate the percentage chance of each group that went on to achieve each grade. Therefore estimates are based upon the actual performance of art and design students with similar starting points, or prior attainment data.
FFT themselves even recognise that
….in subject areas such as PE or Creative Arts, pupils may have specific aptitudes or skills. In such cases estimates maybe less relevant and your own professional judgement and common sense should be used alongside the data.
(Note the use of the term estimates.)
If you are leading the use of data for learning, what next?
Clearly communicate the FFT model used and the rationale for these choices as a school.
Use the FFT reporting and the range of statistical probabilities along side the teacher assessments. Analyse the ‘relative chance’ of these estimates in art and design, with all other subjects across the school.
What other data can be drawn into correlate these targets. CAT non-verbal reasoning assessment being an obvious choice.
The data is robust and the learning conversation opportunity it presents is not to be missed. Use it to discuss student progress, student achievement and to assess the accuracy of professional judgements made by the department. Stress that colleagues and departments are
more likely to be highly regarded if their judgements are accurate, they demonstrate that they are able to add value and use data to focus their actions, interventions and developments. – The Art of the probable – mythology and mystery in the setting of targets in art and design.
‘Unrealart’ by Alison Mealey – making big data, artistic.