School Data: not fit for (re)purpose

Kristofer Daniel Nagy, Michael Henderson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review


Schools are rife with data, not least data relating to student performance.However, most data are unseen, or seen by only a few, often for accountability reportinggoals. The data practices within schools are largely for descriptive purposes rather thanstrategic, that is, there is a great deal of latent potential for the data to be used to informstrategic evaluation and future planning. The potential of data in schools has become ahot topic with discussions of ‘learning analytics’ and recent initiatives to develop onlineportals to school performativity data. However, the reality is that the very nature of thedata combined with the strictures of the organisational context almost invariably resultin underwhelming (re)presentation and applicability. This paper reports on findingsfrom an internationally funded project investigating the benefits and challengesassociated with ‘opening’ access and repurposing school-generated and school-relateddata to meet the needs of the school community. Unsurprisingly the repurposing of datais fraught with challenges including the disparate nature of data and their systems, aswell as financial, legal and regulatory concerns including duty of care. Consequently,the goal of this paper is to engage the readers in a critical approach to current dataconditions in schools, and propose that data may be socially repurposed, whether it isfor personal analytics, or for broader goals. In addressing this need the project adopteda participatory design methodology and worked with administrators, teachers andstudents to co-design new ways to use currently held student progression data to meettheir pressing needs, whether it is to improve learning, track performance or identify ‘atrisk’ students. In particular, this paper reports on a series of findings relating to thenature of the data currently maintained in schools and their [lack of] suitability forusable, useful and sustainable repurposing.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAustralian Council for Computers in Education 2016 Conference
Subtitle of host publicationRefereed proceedings
EditorsSarah Prestridge, Peter Albion
PublisherThe Queensland Society for Information Technology in Education
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780958118828
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventAustralasian Computers in Education Conference 2016 - Brisbane Convention Centre, Brisbane, Australia
Duration: 29 Sep 20162 Oct 2016


ConferenceAustralasian Computers in Education Conference 2016
Abbreviated titleACEC 2016
OtherACCE 2016 is the biennial conference of the Australian Council for Computers in Education (ACCE).
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