What do you get when you add a massive amount of work to a lot of time and even more stress? You guessed it, an audit.
We shudder when we hear the word because we’re familiar with all of the feelings that come with it. The pressure, the stress, the frustration. The amount of time, effort and work that goes into it is enormous.
Audits exist for a very good reason. They ensure every school meets a great standard of education, they safeguard students against poor practice and provide parents with piece of mind. There’s no arguing the importance of audits. But that doesn’t stop the shudder.
Audits require a lot of work upfront. We scope, we sequence, we outline teaching strategies and map out content. We format Word Documents within an inch of their lives, and potentially our own. And once we hit save, we breathe a sigh of relief that it’s finally done.
Well, sort of.
Because once we have outlined the scope and sequence for the course, defined a program detailing our unit level plan and referenced lesson plans we still need to keep it all up to date. We’ve got to annotate as the year progresses, reflecting on the efficacy of our plan and capturing insights, future adjustments and goals as well as evidence of student growth.
When one of our students falls behind, we’ve got to add in the new learning plan we created for them. Some of us even keep a record of what we’ve done each day.
It’s a lot. And if we don’t have great processes, tools or support it can be really hard to keep up with it.
It’s no surprise that teachers can be somewhat reluctant to deviate from the outlined syllabus once it’s done. The process of rewriting or reorganising can be so daunting that it can stifle innovation in the classroom, to the detriment of our students. And even for the most experienced teachers the time spent on this endeavour robs them of teaching time that could be spent with the students.
This really defies the purpose of the audit. It’s there to maintain a good floor, not to stop you from doing the right thing with your students or to place red tape across new or updated practices that will have a positive impact in your classroom.
Sticking to a plan set out at the beginning of the year isn’t always practical. So if you need to deviate to produce more individualised learning for students, or to add different projects or activities that will benefit their learning, you should do so. It's completely within your scope of practice to do what's best for your students.
Doing what’s best isn’t always easy though. You might want to do more, but you’re only one person. And sometimes that means that there’s only enough time to create personalised learning plans or annotate the syllabus, not both.
Most teachers will tell you that they want to provide their students with personalised learning. But the practicality of it makes it difficult in the classroom, especially when an audit is looming,
Striking the balance between quality planning for personalised learning and meeting audit requirements can be done, though. It just takes the right tools and support.
When you break it down, personalised learning can create a few challenges in documenting plans ready for audits:
These are not small challenges to face.
The Maths Pathway Learning and Teaching Model is largely focused on personalised learning, but the teachers who created the model are very aware that this level of differentiation is all well and good until NESA arrives at the school gates. They have first hand experience of what this feels like.
So we’ve worked closely with schools in NSW to make the documenting process as easy as possible with a few key tools.
Data is probably the most powerful and important tool in an audit. Maths Pathway leverages technology to support teachers to collect actionable, real time data on every student, without extra time or admin. The learning portal delivers ongoing formative assessments to students to determine what they’ve mastered, what they haven’t and what they’re ready to learn next. So teachers can see student growth rates and test scores. This information is easily accessible in the teacher portal in dashboards and downloadable reports that provide great evidence of student learning.
In addition to growth rates and test scores, the system can also store project results and learning goals. These are easy to export too, so compiling information for each student can be done quickly and effectively. It’s important to know that while Maths Pathway leverages technology, it isn't just an online platform. Students work is still handwritten in a workbook, so collecting evidence of student work can still be taken from their books.
One of Maths Pathway’s greatest assets is our Learning team. The team is made up of experts in pedagogy, former teachers and mathematicians who develop curriculum aligned content in the form of modules, mini lessons (targeted explicit teaching) and Rich tasks. Over the past 12 months in particular, we’ve worked closely with schools to develop a program template that meets audit standards. It maps the curriculum content descriptors to the content and teacher lesson plans in the Maths Pathway model. This template is available for all schools, and can alleviate a lot of work for teachers.
These are just some of the ways Maths Pathway helps schools tackle audits. Our School Improvement Consultants are also available to provide support throughout the process — every school gets their own consultant, so you’ll be working with someone who knows your school really well.
With the data, evidence and program all set the audit process becomes a lot less stressful and frustrating. Time is given back and less admin is needed. With better data, teachers can feel more in control of the whole process because they know exactly where their students are at and how they’re progressing.
But beyond all that, students are getting truly personalised learning that allows them to grow at their own pace. Teachers regain freedom in the classroom and are increasing their impact with more time and better data to inform their practice. Combined, this can lead to better outcomes for the school with higher growth rates.
We know how hard audits are. We’ve been there. That’s why it’s been so important to us to make the whole process easier. Because audits shouldn’t take away time or stifle innovation. They should exist so that quality teaching and learning can take place.