Using student work samples to evaluate the impact of professional learning
A practical guide for teachers and school leaders to evaluate the impact of professional learning.
About work samples
About using student work samples to evaluate impact
This guide supports teachers to use student work samples as an immediate source of data on student understanding and progress. When using work samples to identify evidence of impact, it is important to be strategic about student selection and the framework for analysis.
The choice of students will depend on several factors, including the focus for the new practice or approach and intended outcomes, the target students and whole school goals or priorities.
The framework for analysis might be external assessment devices, such as learning progressions and syllabus outcomes, criteria developed through professional learning undertaken, such as high-leverage strategies explored in professional learning, or school-developed rubrics. Regardless of the specific framework selected, it needs to be appropriate for the practice being applied, the content and the student learning level. It should also be used collaboratively to ensure consistency between teachers and across several instances of data analysis.
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- Download a printable version of the Using work samples to evaluate impact tool (PDF 144kB)
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This step aligns with the HIPL element: Professional learning is driven by identified student needs.
Step 1: Identify existing student need and relevant professional learning
What is the existing student need and what professional learning might address this?
Identify existing student needs through analysis of data.
Identify relevant professional learning, in collaboration with school leaders, and ensure it is something you can measure the impact of by looking at student work. For example:
- improving the structure of student narrative writing
- improving the use of accurate complex sentences in student writing
- justifying solutions to mathematical problems using appropriate terminology and examples.
This step aligns with the HIPL element: Professional learning is continuous and coherent.
Step 2: Identify a set of students and gather baseline data
What group of students will we gather work samples from and why?
- Identify a set of students you will gather work samples from. Select 2-3 students from different groups within the same focus area in the class/cohort with whom you will be applying the learning.
- Be clear on why you have selected these students. Connect this to school targets (for example particular equity groups or achievement levels) and priorities and/or IPMs.
- Gather a pre-PL work sample from the selected students.
This step aligns with the HIPL elements: School leadership teams enable professional learning; and Collaborative and applied professional learning strengthens teaching practice.
Step 3: Engage in and apply the professional learning, analyse baseline data
What criteria will be used to analyse work samples, how and when will this happen?
- Complete the professional learning you identified in step 1 that will support improvement in the identified area.
- Following the professional learning, identify what criteria will be used. For example, use criteria from the professional learning or develop criteria/rubric based on learning progressions, syllabus outcomes or exemplar models.
- Collaborate with colleagues to analyse the pre-professional learning work samples using a protocol, such as the ones listed below, to support collaborative analysis.
- Apply the indentified practice in the classroom.
This step aligns with the HIPL element: Teachers and school leaders are responsible for the impact of professional learning on student progress and achievement.
Step 4: Gather and analyse post-PL work samples, identify next steps
How will we know if the professional learning has improved teacher practices and had impact on student progress and achievement?
- After applying the identified practice in the classroom for 1-2 weeks, gather work samples from the same group of students and collaborate with colleagues to analyse these using the same criteria as in Step 3.
- Annotate the work samples and keep copies. Record any changes in student learning, reflect and adjust classroom practice in response as needed.
- Continue to apply practice in the classroom.
- After applying the identified practice for at least 6 weeks, gather a further work sample and analyse as above.
- Annotate the work samples and keep copies. Record any identified changes in student learning, reflect and adjust classroom practice in response (as needed).
- Consider any additional professional learning that may be required to embed practice or deepen understanding.
- Share learning, feedback and recommendations with the wider team or across the school to impact teacher practice and student learning outcomes more widely.