One of the most potent things a teacher can do to improve student learning is to monitor the progress of each of their students, and to adjust their teaching accordingly – or, in John Hattie’s words, to know thy impact.
When you know how far each of your students has progressed, you also know the impact your teaching has had.
How To Measure Impact
To know thy impact involves measuring progress, not A-E achievement. To do this you need to use the basic pre-test/post-test format. You can use this format with any measurable assessment tasks (e.g. early reader text levels, draft writing sample scored with a numerical rubric (see attached sample) or actual tests (teacher written or commercial).
A student may score 4/12 on their first attempt at using persuasive devices in a text, and then 7/12 second attempt. They may be reading a level 3 text in week one, and a level 7 text at the end of the term. Or, they may get 24/50 on a random pre-test of tables and 30/50 on a subsequent test.
How To Know If Thy Impact Is Sufficient
In the above examples, it is easy to see progress – the harder question to answer is whether that progress is sufficient. This is where Hattie’s effect size research comes in really handy. Effect sizes range from 0 to infinity, but most range between 0 and 1.
After reviewing thousands of research articles, Hattie found that the typical effect of teaching 0.4. That is, after teaching a unit on fractions, a pre-test/post-test should show progress of 0.4. If it doesn’t, the strategies being used by the teacher are not effective.
The next question is how do you work out effect sizes, especially when you are a busy teacher. There are statistical formulas you can use. However, thankfully there is an Excel spreadsheet called the Progress Achievement tool that does it all for you. It only works though if you punch in data for a whole class or at least a group. Open it up and typing some dummy data get the idea – note just enter their score, not their score out of (e.g. 8 not 8/12).
Know Thy Impact & Adjust Teaching As Necessary
I now get to the main point. What happens when you have done all this?
If the effect size for the whole class is lower than 0.4 you need to problem solve new approaches to teaching the next lot of similar content. This is best done in with a trusted colleague/s.
You then repeat the exercise for any individual students who have progressed less than 0.4.
Every time the effect is higher than 0.4 is a time for congratulations and celebration, as your approaches to teaching are working.