Friday, 16 March 2018

Identify Trends - Maori Student Achievement Data

In my last post I learned that overall performance in the senior sciences are mostly on par with Decile 1 and at times closer to National norms. This data included internals AND externals, and students of all ethnicities. 

Today I'm going to delve deeper and look at Maori student achievement data in science, as my inquiry title is: 

Can changes to cultural visibility and responsiveness in the junior science program improve Maori student a) reading achievement and b) enjoyment, confidence and achievement in science?

Before we jump in, I think it's really quite important to note that the number of Maori students who take senior science is not high. It's difficult to talk about trends in data when there are only one or two students involved, as their individual differences may be massive!  

For example there were 2 Maori students in Biology in 2015, 1 in 2016 and 1 in 2017. There was only 1 Maori student enrolled in Y12 Chemistry in 2017 and no Maori students enrolled in Y13 Chemistry. 

The fact that not many Maori students choose senior science is an area that I hope to improve by inquiring into the cultural visibility and responsiveness of the junior curriculum to the lives and cultures of our Maori akonga.

These %'s represent the total % of grades across the year in both internal and externals. For example in the Year 12 2015 Chem Maori results there were 5 standards sat by the lone Maori student, and they received NA for 1, A for 1 and E for 3 of them. 

So let's jump in!

Year 12 Chem Maori Results
2015 Maori results - 20% NA, 20% A, 0 M, 60% E.
2016 Maori results - 57% NA, 0 A, 0 M and 43% E.
2017 Maori results - 100% NA.
National Statistics Decile 1 - 37% NA, 37% A, 13% M, 13% E.

Year 13 Chemistry Maori Results
2015 Maori results - 46% NA, 18% A, 9% M, 27% E.
2016 Maori results - 75% NA, 25% A, 0 M, 0 E.
2017 Maori results - no Maori students enrolled.
National Statistics Decile 1 - 31% NA, 40% A, 11% M, 12% E.

Year 12 Physics Maori Results
2016 Maori - 67% NA, 0 A, 33% M, 0 E.
2017 Maori - 64% NA, 21% A, 14% M, 0 E.
National Statistics Decile 1 - 32% NA, 45% A, 21% M, 3% E.

Year 13 Physics Maori Results
2016 Maori results - 0 NA, 0 A, 100% M, 0 E.
2017 Maori results - 0 NA, 75% A, 0 M, 25% E.
National Statistics Decile 1 - 43% NA, 33% A, 12% M, 12% E

Year 12 Biology Maori Results
2015 Maori results - 0 NA, 43% A, 57% M, 0 E.
2016 Maori results - 46% NA, 46% A, 7% M, 0 E.
2017 Maori results - 33% NA, 50% A, 17% M, 0 E.
National Statistics Decile 1 - 39% NA, 42% A, 11% M, 9% E.

Year 13 Biology Maori Results
2015 Maori results - 80% NA, 20% A, 0 M, 0 E.
2016 Maori results - 0 NA, 0 A, 100% M, 0 E.
2017 Maori results - 75% NA, 0 A, 25% M, 0 E.
National Statistics Decile 1 - 42% NA, 35% A, 15% M, 8% E.

Some things that have just jumped out at me is that in three Years no Maori student has gained an E in senior Biology, (Y12 or 13), although the rest of the Y12 grade distributions are similar to that of other Decile 1 schools.  

Maori students seem to perform better in senior Chemistry compared to Physics and Biology. 

Again, it is difficult to say this data is conclusive when the stats are based on 1, 2 or occasionally 3 students per year.

Interestingly, this article was posted over the weekend and shows that Nationally, 80% of students pass 'Science' (across all 3 levels, I guess?) and that about 19% will pass with Excellence.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Identify Trends - Student Achievement Data

What is achievement like across all senior sciences - we have staff reporting that students are not as prepared as they could be when they arrive, but what is the data telling us? I compared all Achievement Standard data from 2015, 2016 and 2017 with the 2016 National results (across all decile schools) and also with the 2016 National Decile 1 results. 

Results seem to indicate that while teachers feel some of our students are less prepared than they could be and that we need to "catch them up" on previous years' learning sometimes, their performances are by-and-large on par with the rest of the country.

These overall results could hide standards that students are find much harder and perform worse in, by mixing the data with standards they found easier and performed better in. This data also reports on internal and exam performance together.

Year 12 Biology Results
Year 12 results across 2015, 2016 and 2017 follow a similar proportion of grades to both 2016
National Statistics and Decile 1 Statistics too, although slightly less Excellences and more of
other grades.

Year 13 Biology Results
2015 results are similar to the National Statistics in Decile 1.
2016 results are similar to the 2016 National Statistics across all deciles.
2017 results shows a large increase in Excellence (almost 50% of all grades).

Year 12 Chemistry Results
Results in 2015 and 2017 are very similar.
2016 saw a small increase in NA and E and a decrease in A and M.
All three years have a higher proportion of NA than 2016 National Statistics and Decile 1 Statistics.

Year 13 Chemistry Results
2015 and 2016 show similar proportions of NA and A grades, with a few more E’s in 2015 than
in 2016.
2017 results show a lot less NA compared to 2016 National Statistics and also Decile 1 schools. There was also a
decrease in E and therefore a large increase in Achieved and Merit grades.

Year 12 Physics Results
2016 has a similar pattern of results to other Decile 1 National Statistics.
2016 and 2017 results both have more NA and less E than the overall 2016 National Statistics.
Compared to 2016, 2017 saw a slight increase in NA and a small decrease in A, while the M
and E remained fairly similar.

Year 13 Physics Results
2016 and 2017 Not Achieved results sit squarely between Decile 1 National Statistics and the
overall National Statistics.
2016 had a greater proportion of M and E than the 2016 National Statistics, and much less
2017 had a very similar proportion of M and E to the 2016 National Statistics.

TLDR: There doesn't seem to be a clear trend across time or the three subjects. Most results are on par with 2016 Decile 1 results, and some appear more like 2016 average nationwide results from all deciles. Results vary by year.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Identify Trends - Staff Voice

Is it only in Biology that teachers feel students are arriving somewhat under-prepared for success? 
That is the question I investigated today. 

If it is ONLY in Biology that students are arriving with gaps in their expected knowledge then perhaps it is just the "wonderful world" and "genetics" topics in Year 9 and 10 that I need to improve cultural visibility and responsiveness in! 

I surveyed the teachers of senior science at Tamaki College to find out (my responses are also included):

Teachers thought students were roughly about half as prepared as they need to be.

Teachers thought the current junior curriculum is only halfway preparing our senior students for success in NCEA, which indicates massive room for improvement based off professional judgement.

Specific topics that could do with improving included atomic structure, names and properties of acids and bases and genetics, along with skills that can be applied across all the sciences such as graphing, problem solving, researching, writing reports, and making scientific drawings.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Gathering Evidence - Student Data & Anecdotes

Can changes to cultural visibility and responsiveness in the junior science program improve Maori student a) reading achievement and b) enjoyment, confidence and achievement in science.

I fear this will not be a "short and sharp" post but I'll include a TLDR (too long didn't read) summary at the bottom!

It's time to look at some student data! I will share the data for junior student reading and writing levels in a later post, when I look for trends in students across the board rather than focussing on science.

I would like to share some senior Biology student data and anecdotal evidence that has been in the forefront of my mind while thinking of improving the junior science program. I have felt for some years that many students arrive in Biology under-prepared. 

This may be a school-wide issue due to reading levels and comprehension, but I feel there is also room to improve junior program to connect with students more and build understanding and achievement across two years. 

Senior Biology 2016 (I was absent 2017):

In 2016 nine students out of 21 failed their first NCEA Level 2 Biology assessment, which is to create a biological drawing of an organism using a microscope. This involves labelling different cells or features of cells, and describing or explaining their function in the organism's life and environment. My reflection at the end of the year was this: 

"Students did not enjoy being forced to remember/recall information rather than copy/transcribe it - a trend that continued throughout the year with effort for the exam."

Information that students were required to recall was not overly complex. In fact, some of the most basic Achieved-level labels contained similar information to what I was teaching Year 7 students at a school in England in 2017 - yet many of my students were unfamiliar with the basic structure of a cell. Some could not understand the difference between cell structures (e.g cell walls) and organelles (tiny organs) found inside a cell. I would love if students could arrive with a little more biological knowledge, and that is something that a change in the Y9 and 10 junior curriculum could support.

In 2016 five students of 14 (some were away on a two-week trip) failed a practical assessment, which is to design and carry out an investigation into the effect of osmosis on percentage mass change. My reflection at the end of the year was this: 

"2015 students found understanding valid testing and controlled variables difficult. 2016 students also found this a little confusing, but there has been a lot of focus on valid testing and variables with the 2016 Year 11s, so hopefully next year's 12s will be more confident."

Writing hypotheses, methods, identifying variables, averaging and graphing data and writing conclusions are skills that students require across all three science disciplines. It would be useful if students arrived knowing the basic expectations of a scientific support and what variables are. 

In 2016 eleven students of 18 failed an essay-like assessment where they were asked to evaluate the validity of information presented to the public. This was the assessment that had the highest fail-rate in 2016. My reflection was this: 

"Students were really, really reluctant to read, and then equally reluctant to write anything about their reading. To pass this assessment students must complete all three analyses. I believe the reading and broad completion requirements hindered success." 

Reading, comprehending and being able to discuss (in writing) key points from written texts were vital in this assessment. This requirement links to the Achievement Challenges 1 & 3 of Manaiakalani; relating to reading and writing. Interacting with texts (scientific or otherwise) from a young age and being able to convert understanding back into writing is a skill that would benefit our learners across all subjects.

In 2016 fourteen students failed their end of year exam, which was a Genetics exam. Only seven showed up. Of them, one gained Excellence, one gained Merit and two Achieved. The low attendance rate was a particular kick in the gut, as the exam is always a massive focus throughout the year. Having students not show up after you've invested hundreds and hundreds of hours into them is like a slap in the face. My reflection was this:

"In the 2016 Year 12 Biology class, only 2 students had previously passed the Y11 Genetics exam (one of those had arrived mid-year from AGGS). Only five of the original 22 students in the 2016 Y12 class had done ANY genetics at all in Y11 (those in 1101 during 2015).

Students from 1102 had done no biology at all since Term 3-4 in their Year 10, and during their Year 9 the Biology learning was called "Web of Life" and did not include any genetics. I am unsure what Biology was taught in their Primary schools before that. 1103 did some biology during their "Life Processes" internal but again no genetics. 1104 and 1105 also arrived with very little biological knowledge as many more achievable standards are selected from physics and chemistry."

Going back to anecdotal evidence again here (sorry, not overly scientific) but in 2016 I had to spend 2-3 weeks teaching Year 11 genetics to my Year 12s because without the basic understanding of what a gene was and what a chromosome was, it was impossible for them to wrap their brains around more complex concepts like meiosis and crossing over. Having a solid basis of learning from Year 9 and 10 (or even before) of concepts (or vocabulary) such as organism (living thing), habitat (an organism's home) or inherit (receive from parents) would make senior science so much easier - students could attack the learning of more difficult concepts without having to stop and learn the surrounding vocabulary. 

TLDR: I think that the room-for-improvement in senior biology results really makes the case for adjusting our junior curriculum. From student data and Biology-specific anecdotes I have identified that our junior curriculum could include improved: 

- Practicing valid testing, report writing, and identifying variables.
- Reading, comprehending, analysing and practicing writing about those things.
- Learning about cells and genetics.
- Building of biological knowledge across two years rather than separate units in each year.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Scan - Perspectives of Young People

Can changes to cultural visibility and responsiveness in the junior science program improve Maori student a) reading achievement and b) enjoyment, confidence and achievement in science?

When Graeme Aitkin visited Tamaki College in 2017 he said enjoyment, confidence and achievement were vital to student success. In this post I look at how much students in junior science enjoy learning our subject

As with my last post, I surveyed 16 Year 9 students from two classes at the end of 2017.  In my previous post I mentioned factors that may have impacted their data - please refer back to it :)

To find out how much our Year 9 students enjoyed science in their first year of secondary I first asked about how much "fun" they had in science. Perhaps "fun" is not EXACTLY the same as "enjoyment" - sometimes I enjoy things because I am confident, or can feel myself improving, or know I can achieve it.  On the other hand, if you're having fun then you're definitely enjoying yourself. For now, fun is a fine measure.

The average score across the 16 students was 7.5, which is definitely more "fun" than "not fun."

I also asked students how engaged they are with science in class and at home:

The average score for engagement at school was 7.1, with a fairly even spread of answers from 5-10; half-engaged to always-engaged. The average engagement with science at home was 4.5.

I also decided to find out how important students thought that learning science was:

The average score was 8.9, indicating that students do think science is important.

Interestingly, one student who put they are (5) engaged at home, (2) engaged at school, thinks science is really not fun at all (3) gave the highest score for how important that they think it is (10). Does this student see science as extremely valuable to them but too boring at school; so they put more effort in at home? That's not what I want for our junior science students. I want to them to enjoy learning at school, grow in confidence and accelerate in achievement in a subject they have reported is important for them to learn.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Gathering Evidence - Student Voice

Can changes to cultural visibility and responsiveness in the junior science program improve Maori student a) reading achievement and b) enjoyment, confidence and achievement in science?

When Graeme Aitkin visited Tamaki College in 2017 he said enjoyment, confidence and achievement were vital to student success. In this post I look at the confidence of students in junior science.

What was student confidence in science like at the end of Year 9? At the end of 2017 I surveyed 16 Year 9 students from two classes.

Before we get into it, I should mention that some factors that may influence this data include:

  • The 16 students surveyed were present during the final weeks of Term 4 while most of their peers (around 35 of them) were absent. This indicates to me they are the more dedicated, studious or supported students in Year 9, which may skew the data towards higher levels of reported confidence than would be true across all of 2017's Year 9 cohort.
  • I went in as an unfamiliar face due to my year off in 2017, so students did not know me as a teacher at all. 
    • While there was no teacher-student relationship to cause a power imbalance, there still may have been an adult-child power imbalance causing a shift in answers.
    • Our lack of relationship could have made students more or less truthful; on one hand they would have no fear of their answers impacting our relationship, on the other they could have taken less care answering for a stranger.
  • Pacific cultures place emphasis on being humble and gracious, so there may be a bias in the data with students presenting self-belief in their abilities as lower than they really think it is.
Here is the question that I asked:

The mean score across the 16 students was 6.2, which I took to mean something like "I'm OK I guess" or "I'm average; not great and not bad either." 

As another measure of confidence (although SO many factors could be involved in subject selection, such as career goals, interest, timetabling and unfortunately also their friend's subject selections etc) I asked this question: 

One student said they would take all three sciences, one of them said they would take two, two said just one science was on the cards and one had already made up their mind to take none. However, ten students said "maybe," showing that they are undecided in their junior years and perhaps indicating that they are still open to convincing throughout Year 10 and 11!

Friday, 2 February 2018

Structure of Inquiry

Labels for blog posts ...

LEvidence, LScan, LTrend, LHypothesise, LResearch, LReflect,
CPlan, CTry, CInnovate, CImplement, CReflect,
SPublish, SCoteach, SModel, SFback, SReflect

Focusing Inquiry - “What is important (and therefore worth spending time on) given where my students are at?”
Gather evidence
Student achievement data eg. standardised tests, OTJs, internals and externals
Anecdotal evidence eg. observations, formative assessment tasks, student voice,  parent voice, previous teachers, surveys,  learning walks and reciprocal visits
Wider perspective on learning not just aspects that are easily measured eg considering perspectives of our young people and their whānau. How engaged are they with learning? Can they describe what they are learning and why it is important?
Identify Trends
Looking at all the evidence, thinking hard about its “shape”. Noticing where there are cohort trends that extend out beyond the class, to the team or department, maybe even for this school across schools in the CoL
Clearly identifying the common learning challenges or problems.
Looking for and identifying strategies that are known to have the greatest impact on on this/these challenges
Analysis and interpretation often take place in the mind of the teacher, who then uses the insights gained to shape their actions as they continue to work with their students. These theories for improvement should connect with the inquiries related to the Achievement Challenge of the Department/Team, the School and the CoL.
“This involves asking questions about how well current strategies are working and whether others might be more successful. Teachers search their own and their colleagues’ past practice for strategies that may be more effective, and they also look in the research literature to see what has worked in other contexts.”

“Inquiry into the teaching–learning relationship goes hand in hand with formative assessment, in the cyclical evaluation process that goes on moment by moment, day by day, and over the longer term.” Assessment-in-the-classroom/Teaching-as-inquiry
Teaching Inquiry - “What strategies (evidence-based) are most likely to help my students learn?”

Make a plan
What can I already do and  what do I need help with?
Who are the learners? Group/class
What are the goals for my practice and student achievement?
Set up processes for capturing evidence about whether the strategies are working for my students.
Try new things
It is a constant state of action, monitoring, reflection, and adjustment - and then more action.
Failure may occur.
Feedback from learners - how will I engage them with new learning? Do they know we’re trying something new?  
Are we capitalising on the affordances of the technology to support the Five Affordances of Learn Create Share (Engagement, Teaching Conversations, Visibility, Cognitive Challenge, Scaffolding) identified by the WFRC
Just do it!

“Inquiry into the teaching–learning relationship goes hand in hand with formative assessment, in the cyclical evaluation process that goes on moment by moment, day by day, and over the longer term.” Assessment-in-the-classroom/Teaching-as-inquiry
Learning Inquiry - “What has happened as a result of the changes in teaching, and what are the implications for future teaching? ...We need people to provide us with different perspectives and to share their ideas, knowledge, and experiences.”
What happened as a result of the changes? Share evidence (artefacts of student learning, DLOs) and effective strategies.
What if my plans didn’t work? Are there different approaches?Who can help me? Peer observations, video analysis of my practice.
Model / Guide
How can my findings and experiences support my peers? How is this shared?
Feedback / Feedforward
What are my next steps? How will I sustain effective practice? Learner feedback? New goals?

“Inquiry into the teaching–learning relationship goes hand in hand with formative assessment, in the cyclical evaluation process that goes on moment by moment, day by day, and over the longer term.” Assessment-in-the-classroom/Teaching-as-inquiry