With GCSE Results Day 2016 fast approaching I thought it’s a good time to look at how assessment manager experts like us can get the most out of exam results analysis on the big day itself and during the following few days.
I don’t count myself an expert when it comes to Exams, and I’m definitely not a Exam Organiser ninja but, over the years, I have been able to help many schools integrate Exam Organiser and Assessment Manager
It’s all down to letting Exam Organiser do what it does best, and Assessment Manager do what it does best. So here is my guide to getting the most out of SIMS over the exam period.
Tip 1: Your exam co-ordinator is your best friend.
Most of the readers of this blog are assessment co-ordinators. So we don’t always understand exactly what exams our pupils are being entered for – so long as we have a column for GCSE History what do we care if it’s offered by the Welsh Board or AQA? But at Exam time we need to understand the GCSE equivalence of every qualification our school offers, and we also need to know the four-digit code that every exam has. So go ahead and buy your Exam Co-ordinator a coffee.
Tip 2: It’s all about preparation, especially basedata.
I used to hate basedata. It was never accurate, or it didn’t exist or it didn’t import. But the situation has improved. Make sure you download the latest files a week or so before results day. Monitor support net for last minute changes by the DfE. On results day itself, keep a look-out for problems with the download from individual boards.
Tip 2: No basedata, no problem.
A few years ago entering results into EO by hand was very fiddly. Now entering non-electronically downloaded results has been brought within SIMS and it’s so much easier. You’ll need to know what a QAN code is (basically, a way of categorising every exam by a standard list of subjects) and how to find out the QAN code if yours is missing.
Tip 3: Exams Organiser and Assessment Manager are all you need
You really don’t have to use third-party tools to analyse results on results day. While SIMS might not suit every school, it does provide all the tools to get you through the statutory analysis on results day. Fair enough, if you prefer to analyse your data elsewhere, but don’t let anyone tell you that it can’t also be done in SIMS.
Tip 4: Automatically add exam grades to termly tracking marksheets
Do you know that the results downloaded on exams day are can be included as columns within traditional marksheets? Add the exam organiser results columns to the year 11 summer term tracking data and immediately compare target grades with actual grades. Use all the familiar analysis tools within marksheets: summaries, group filters, result filters etc. No data transfers or Excel export required.
Tip 5: Use the exam graphs in SIMS Discover
For most assessment graphs, SIMS discover takes a fair bit of setting up. Not for exam results however as Capita have provided a set of graphs that pick up your exam results straight away (okay, next day if you want to wait for the overnight data transfer).
Tip 6: Create exam result analysis grids automatically
If you’ve never used a group analysis, resultset analysis or aspect analysis before (and don’t even know what they are!) don’t worry – there’s a menu option in assessment manager that create a set of these analyses for you. Use it to get access to a range of deep analysis tools that many school don’t think exist.