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Uptown School, Dubai. How we used international standardised assessment data to drive improvement. Uptown School, Dubai. IB World School IB Primary Years Programme – 9 years IB Middle Years Programme – second year

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Uptown school dubai
Uptown School, Dubai

How we used international standardised assessment data to drive improvement

Uptown school dubai1
Uptown School, Dubai

  • IB World School

  • IB Primary Years Programme – 9 years

  • IB Middle Years Programme – second year

  • Broadly Open entry policy – international student body with wide range of abilities

  • Transient student population (10-15% per year)

  • Major expansion - 300 new students this year!

Using international norm referenced assessment data to drive improvement
Using international norm-referenced assessment data to drive improvement

  • Improvement in our curriculum programme

  • Improvement in planning and teaching

    Leading to:

    Improvement in Student Learning


    Enhanced Student Attainment

Norm referenced assessments
Norm Referenced Assessments

National System CAT Cognitive Abilities Test

PiMProgress in Mathematics

PiPSPerformance Indicators in Primary Schools

MAP Measures of Academic Progress

GAT General Achievement Test

International ASSET Assessment of Scholastic Skills through Ed Testing

TIMSS Trends in Mathematics & Science

PIRLS Progress in International Reading & Literacy

PISA Programme for International School Assessment

ISA International Schools Assessment

IBT International Benchmark Tests

Which assessments
Which Assessments?

  • ACER IBT (International Benchmark Tests)

  • ACER ISA (International Schools’ Assessment)


  • ISA is designed for students in international schools

  • ISA bears research-founded reliability & validity

  • ISA is used by many IB Programme schools world-wide

  • ISA Provides and allows for easy disaggregation of data

Norm referenced assessment why
Norm Referenced Assessment - Why?

The prime purpose in most schools

Internal and external

Quality Assurance and Accountability

Norm referenced assessment why1
Norm Referenced Assessment - Why?

If we use Norm Referenced Assessments solely for accountability we are missing a massive opportunity

Using the data…

as a means of driving and supporting continuous school improvement

Data informed decision-making

Improvement in successful schools as well as those with lower attainment

Uptown school dubai

IBT and ISA, 2012-2013

Uptown Students were solid in English but were markedly below Norms in Mathematics – across all grades

‘Yes, but……..’

Uptown school dubai

Addressing and responding to the

‘Yes, but……..’ phenomena

Building personal and collegial understanding that:

(1) the assessments are reliable and valid

(2) the data is valid and painting a clear picture

= Ownership & Responsibility

Yes but
Yes, but…………..

  • IB PYP is different; it doesn’t lend itself to external standardised assessments

  • Multiple-choice questions/answers are alien to our students and our approach to assessment

  • Our many new students each year and SEN students impact negatively on our overall attainment

  • The IBT/ISA doesn’t assess conceptual understanding

  • The IBT/ISA doesn’t assess what our students are learning at each of our grade levels


  • A comparative analysis of Uptown School’s scope and sequence against expected skills and understandings within the ISA assessment and against worldwide national system curricular

    Clear Gaps

  • Curriculum modification - adoption and adaption of New South Wales (AUS) Scope and Sequence

  • Raising expectations

  • Absolute clarity about what students need to learn during each year.



  • The discrete teaching of mathematical literacy - Mathematical literacy units created spanning the school year

  • Separate from the IB PYP trans - disciplinary Units of Inquiry

  • Unit plans clearly defining instructional practices – direct instruction as well as guided inquiry

  • The introduction of a home-based on online daily mathematics practice programme, G1-G9


An explicit leadership focus on classroom practice

  • Good teaching is not enough; students need and deserve excellent teaching

  • Closing the achievement gap requires excellent teaching

    It is the leader’s prime and over-riding responsibility to ensure that classroom practice is excellent

Ineffective v excellent teaching
Ineffective v Excellent Teaching

US state-wide studies of elementary and middle school students

  • The effect on the student of one year of ineffective teaching lasts up to three years

  • The effect on the student of one year of excellent teaching lasts up to three years

  • One year of excellent teaching cannot make up for one year of ineffective teaching

  • Three years of ineffective teaching is irrecoverable



  • SMART Goal-Setting based on external standardised and baseline assessment data, at both the grade level and individual class level

  • Weekly collaborative planning and collaborative discussion of student products

  • Differentiation by need, within the classroom

  • Formative assessment and quality feedback

    Excellent Teaching


Teacher Supervision and Feedback

  • Classroom teaching and differentiation

  • Teacher short-term planning

  • Regular review of student workbooks and products,

  • Dialogue with students about their learning

    An explicit focus on outputs – student progress and attainment is the measure of teacher success

Even if your standardised assessments are
Even if your standardised assessments are:

We need to look beyond the scores
We need to look beyond the scores

  • Data informed decision-making is a must!

  • Using reliable and objective data drives school improvement and enhanced student attainment

    This applies to the ‘outstanding’ as well as the ‘good’ – good to great; but great to greater!

    Excellent, data-informed, teaching is what students need and for what we are all accountable

    Employ external standardised assessments that support disaggregation and interpretation of data