Spotlight on Mathematics Mastery: reducing workload and improving data

Mathematics Mastery are partnering with Assembly to offer powerful assessment analytics without requiring schools to waste precious time and energy on avoidable data-entry tasks. Here’s their story...

Like so many school improvement initiatives, Mathematics Mastery really care about data. They’re a professional development programme that partners with schools to deliver world-class maths teaching. And they know that good use of data can empower schools to improve.

Vijaya Ravindran, project manager at Mathematics Mastery, has two main reasons for collecting and analysing data. The first is to help teachers gather formative data so they are empowered to understand how their children are learning in the classroom. The second is to collect aggregated and anonymised data so that they can report to stakeholders, offer enhanced analysis to schools, and learn how to improve the programme.

However, Mathematics Mastery have also experienced the challenges of turning this vision into working processes.

Their secondary programme has a formative test at the start and end of each half-termly module, so that schools can spot and act on gaps in pupil knowledge. There’s also an end-of-year test, to assess cumulative progress. But when they looked into how they could collect and analyse this data online, Vijaya found plenty of obstacles in their way.

"Initially we tried to handle assessment data through a combination of our in-house Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, Salesforce, and spreadsheets. However, we found this very time-consuming: data collection was quite onerous, and required teachers to re-enter data in our system that they already had in their MIS (Management Information System). We had to constantly monitor things, and even then it was hard to persuade schools to do things the way we’d planned. So we knew we had to find a way to make teachers’ lives easier, and improve what we were offering them."

That’s when Mathematics Mastery and Assembly started working together.

The Mathematics Mastery team had already decided to develop an online gradebook offering easier data entry and analysis on the fly. But to give a good experience to schools, they needed the product to take a feed of key data from a school’s MIS. This would allow the gradebook to be configured automatically with student names, teaching groups, demographic information and so on. Not only would this reduce the school admin burden, it would greatly enhance the analytics capabilities of the product. They also wanted to be able to aggregate and analyse anonymised data from their schools in a robust and secure way.

For Joshua Perry, Director of Assembly, it made sense for Mathematics Mastery to use the Assembly platform API to provision their gradebook with MIS data:

"Our platform is built with school improvement programmes in mind, so we’ve done lots of work to be able to offer consistent, normalised data in areas like teaching groups, student demographics and assessment."

We were also able to help Mathematics Mastery to anonymise and aggregate their programme data for enhanced school reporting and to analyse the programme's effectiveness.

All secondary schools on the programme get access to the Mathematics Mastery gradebook as part of their subscription. This means they’re able to use data to improve their mathematics teaching practices with the minimum of administrative hassle.

According to Vijaya, the impact has been considerable.

"At Mathematics Mastery our ambition is to be an evidence-based programme. That’s something we aim for in everything we do, from curriculum design through to assessment. It’s a core part of how we empower teachers to be the best they can be. It’s about how we convey skills and knowledge through training and mentoring. But to achieve this we need the right kind of tools for data collection and analysis. Assembly has made this possible for us, and our programme is better for it."

Note: both Assembly and Mathematics Mastery are ventures incubated with the support of Ark, the education charity.

Photo credit: Mathematics Mastery