Pressure to Perform: Reviewing the Use of Data through Professional Learning Conversations

Paul White, Judy Anderson


With increased accountability attached to students’ results on national testing in
Australia, teachers feel under pressure to prepare students for the tests. However,
this can lead to shallow teaching of a narrowed curriculum. An alternative approach
involves using data to identify common errors and misconceptions, discussing
strategies aimed at building understanding of important mathematical ideas as well
as students’ confidence in answering context-based mathematics questions. This
study explored the use of a learning model based on professional conversations
about national testing results as well as school-based assessment data with junior
secondary mathematics teachers in one school. The teachers identified the learning
needs of students and chose to implement mental computation and estimation
approaches as well as a strategy to address the literacy demands of numeracy test
items to support student learning before and after the NAPLAN test. An analysis of
the professional learning model identified approaches to enhance both student
learning and teaching practice.


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