Level 3 - Understand What Your School is Currently Doing to Support Your Students

From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA


In the section on Level 2, you learned how to read and use the data that appears when you download or refresh the Tool. In this page, you will learn how to identify which students are likely to be at risk, and how to complete and use the columns on the right hand side of the spreadsheet.

How to identify which students are at risk of early school leaving

When a student is exposed to one or more risk factors, it does not mean they will leave school early. It does indicate an increased likelihood that they will leave school early, but they may have other preventative factors in place which support them to succeed at school and complete Year 12. For example, students from one-parent families are more likely to leave school early, while students with a university-educated parent are less likely to leave school early. How might one assess the risk for the child of a university-educated, single parent?

The life experiences of some students might also have led to an increased resilience and capacity to deal with set-backs and obstacles. Such a student may succeed despite the presence of several risk factors in their lives.

So, a yellow warning sign on the Tool is only that – a warning sign for the school to consider. At some point, the staff of the school will have to decide who really needs extra support in order to succeed. The “Risk Level” column allows you to record the results of these staff discussions.

You might have a different team of teachers filling out this column for each year level. In primary school, the junior unit teachers plus specialist teachers might examine the data in the Tool and, using their own knowledge of the student and their family, make a judgment about whether the student is at risk. In secondary school, the group might include the year level coordinator, form teacher, English and maths teachers, welfare coordinator and MIPs coordinator. As a school leader, you might place question marks in the ‘Risk Level’ column for all students with poor attendance or low levels of literacy or numeracy, and ask the relevant staff to consider them closely.

How your school uses the ‘Risk Level’ column is up to you, but the red flag in the heading shows a simple approach.

How to fill in the columns on the right hand side of the spreadsheet

The right hand side of the spreadsheet is where you can enter information about any interventions or support the school has provided to the students. This information will remain visible and linked to the correct student even when you refresh the spreadsheet.

Don’t worry yet about whether a particular student should be receiving support. You are simply trying to create a map of which students are being provided with additional support.

The headings across the right hand side of the spreadsheet describe the aim of an intervention or support, not the name of it. This is important as it will enable you to more easily read the ‘map’ later.

Mainstream:

These columns show student participation in school-wide programs that involve many or all students. This includes Vocational/VET programs in secondary school, or alternative learning programs in primary or secondary school. There is also a column to record whether students have a current MIPs plan. You could also use this column to record when an Individual Learning Plan has been developed with students and their families.

Selective:

These columns show support that is provided for students with particular needs, and are self-explanatory. You might wish to give key staff the responsibility for keeping a column up to date.

Case Management:

With a small number of students with entrenched difficulties, schools may undertake intensive case management. In these cases, other agencies or partners are frequently involved. While the Student Mapping Tool is not the place to record details of these matters, it can be used to ensure the school leadership maintains an overview and ensures the school is meeting its responsibilities.

Finally:

This column ensures that students do not leave school without some effort to connect them to a positive pathway. Schools and Regions that are working together in Regional Youth Commitments might wish to collaborate and choose consistent codes for this column.

Within each column, you should use colours and/or codes to show the types of interventions and support programs with which each student has engaged. It is useful to use colour for large-scale programs, such as blue for the students who have completed/reviewed their MIPs plan for the current year. You can enter more than one piece of information in each cell of the spreadsheet. For example, there may be three different literacy support programs operating in your school. These should all be shown in the ‘Literacy Support’ column, but coded differently. A whole-class accelerated literacy program might be coloured green, Reading Recovery might be ‘RR’, and peer-support by older students might be ‘PS’. A single student might have been involved in all three.

See how one school decided to code its range of interventions and support services (Word - 76Kb). Feel free to use these, or invent other codes that suit your needs.

It can take time to obtain lists of the students in each program or receiving each kind of support, especially in a large school with lots of different kinds of support on offer. You then need to work out suitable codes, and a process for entering the data. You can spread the responsibility across a large number of staff by placing the spreadsheet on the shared drive of your intranet, but it will important that you facilitate a clear, shared understanding of the task. For example, a teacher who is entering the codes for their leadership program must ensure their codes are added to, but do not replace, entries that have already been made by someone else in the relevant column. (It is also very important that staff understand that, although they may have access to the Tool, they are not free to divulge the information it contains without your express consent.)

In addition, you can add columns containing extra data on the right hand side. Some schools have used this facility to record internal testing data, for example. However, if you add too many columns you will lose the ability to ‘scan’ the spreadsheet easily for meaning. To add new columns:

  1. Give the column a heading, ensuring there is no blank column in between the existing spreadsheet and your new column. (A blank between column headings breaks the programming link that ensures all your entries stay with the correct student when the data is refreshed.)
  2. Enter the data for each student, either manually or cut and paste the cells from another spreadsheet which has the students in the same order.
  3. To add a filter to each column, highlight the row of column headings by clicking on the 7 at the far left of the page.
  4. Click on the ‘Data’ tab
  5. From the ‘Sort & Filter’ box, select ‘Filter’ – this will clear all of the filters already in place.
  6. Repeat step 5 (ensuring all the headings are still highlighted), and you will have re-set the filter to cover all column headings, including the new ones.

How to explore the relationship between student needs and the support provided

In a large school, it is difficult for leaders to obtain an overview of the complex web of student needs and support. Programs are introduced progressively, issues that initially apply to a few students suddenly expand to a larger group, and capable staff take responsibility for a program and ‘get on with it’ without detailed reporting or review. The Student Mapping Tool was designed to be a ‘map’ – low on detail but providing a useful overview.

Engaging with the Tool at this level will tell you a great deal about the processes by which students at your school are identified for support, and the relevance of the support offered. In this activity, you are looking for the relationship between whole cohorts of students and the programs or interventions the school has introduced to assist them.

For example, your school might have introduced a culturally-specific Koorie attendance program. After using the filter function to show all Koorie and Torres Strait Islander students, you look across to the right hand side and see that all of these students have received the materials associated with the attendance program. But if only 45% of the students had poor attendance, why were the others included in the program?

In another example, after using the filter to show all Year 8 students who are under-performing in numeracy, you look across to see who has been receiving maths support or interventions. It becomes clear that most of the students in the ‘Wednesday maths tutorial’ program are from only two classes, and that some of these students are progressing satisfactorily in maths and don’t appear to need additional support. There are almost no students from the other classes, though some of these students are performing at a very low level. This is not an unusual scenario, as some teachers are more proactive than others about recommending support programs to students and their families.

How to identify students who need interventions, and students who are ‘over-supported’

In this activity, you are exploring what the Tool can tell you about individual students. This task might be delegated to Year Level Coordinators, Unit Leaders and wellbeing coordinators, who are asked to report back to you with recommendations arising from the information.

For each student that your school has identified as being at risk of early school leaving, scan across the right hand side to identify whether:

a) they are receiving any support

b) the support they are receiving is relevant to their needs. For example, a common result of this cross-referencing between the left and right hand side of the spreadsheet is the discovery that secondary school students with low literacy are offered leadership programs, behavior management, individual learning plans and pathways planning support…but not literacy support

c) the support they are receiving addresses their most urgent primary need. For example, a student who is homeless might be best served by a referral to a housing support service rather than attendance, literacy or speech pathology support. Remember that you cannot identify a student’s primary need without discussion with the student and/or their family. An intervention will always be more effective if the recipients choose it, and feel it is addressing their primary need

d) their learning progress is not being undermined by too many supports and interventions. In larger schools, several departments or teachers might recognise that a student is at risk and offer whatever support they are in a position to offer. This should be coordinated, so that schools address the most urgent issues first, and do not overwhelm the student and their family with multiple programs and interventions.

The Student Mapping Tool provides school leaders with the unique opportunity to map and understand the complexities of personalised learning and wellbeing support.

At the next level of engagement (Level 4), you can use the Tool to inform planning for the future.