Data are qualitative information, such as observations and perceptions, as well as quantitative information derived from sources such as test scores. Data can be collected, for example, from surveys, from tests, from roll books, from teacher judgements and from collected opinions or formal assessments. Provisions related to privacy and the safeguarding of personal information should, of course, be carefully observed.
In this case — to give you a clear idea about how you’re going, to provide an effective basis for discussion and analysis of action and its results, and to help you set targets for your work.
You can collect data about anything, and you can waste a lot of time doing so. Don’t do that — concentrate on a limited number of well formulated performance indicators that can be reliably and fairly easily evidenced. But be careful that you are comparing like with like.
A performance indicator is a measure of performance, according to the targets you have set.
An ‘instrument’ is the tool used to collect data. Surveys are instruments; a form for summarising attendance data is an instrument; NAPLAN is an instrument; a list of questions you ask people is an instrument.
Baseline data are a measure of where you are before you take action. Whatever performance indicator you choose, it is vital to know how students are going according to that indicator at the beginning of the process. Otherwise, how would you know what improvement has happened over time?
Completion rates are the percentages of students who complete a course or year of study.
Progression rates are the percentages of students who complete one school year and enrol in the next — such as Year 5 to Year 6 or Year 10 to Year 11.
Retention rates are the percentages of students who remain at school after a number of years — such as Year 7 to Year 12. (Strictly speaking, these are best described as apparent retention rates due to factors like students changing school, re-entrants and students repeating years.)