Publication Date



In 'Using data to support learning', ACER research conference 2003 : proceedings, pages 72-83. Melbourne : ACER


The advantage of ‘ability-adjusted’ analyses of educational data is their capacity to provide fairer assessments of school and student achievement than reliance on raw scores alone. School performance evaluations based on students’ unadjusted (raw) marks favour schools with higher intakes of bright and advantaged students.The learning gains of middle and lower ability students are overlooked, and the achievements of students and schools in disadvantaged areas are not valued, while focus is concentrated on those achieving the highest marks. With ‘ability-adjusted’ analyses of school data, any student who achieves higher marks than similar ability peers is acknowledged as having performed well.This paper describes findings from a series of ‘ability-adjusted’ analyses conducted within individual schools, where students’Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) results were analysed at student and class levels. Staff members were assisted with verification and interpretation of their data to ensure its positive use within their school.This research led to a number of practitioners seeking ‘ability-adjusted’ analyses of their junior and/or middlesecondary students’ achievements, as they recognised the benefits of this data-informed approach.The impact in terms of improving teaching and learning, and the on-going challenges inherent in designing each school’s database, aligned with curriculum and assessment policy, are discussed.