The usefulness of academic performance feedback to primary and secondary schools
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There has been an increased emphasis on providing schools with feedback on performance of learners with the aim of improving the quality of education. However, if feedback on learner performance is to be effectively used by schools, then it is important to understand what the informational needs of the schools are and whether schools can access the information. Thus, one research question is posed in this article namely: How can the current presentation of performance data captured in the school reports and feedback sessions be improved? The conceptual framework for the study draws on evaluation studies focusing on the use and usefulness of information. Methodologically, design research using mixed methods was employed. A needs analysis of what information was essential was undertaken. Six primary and secondary schools were purposively sampled to participate in the needs analysis from which the first prototype of the report and feedback sessions was developed. This needs analysis was comprised of interviews. The second phase included a sample of 22 primary and 21 secondary schools. Data for this phase was collected by means of Delphi questionnaires. The data was analysed using content analysis using a variety of coding strategies. One of the significant findings speaks to the view that schools felt the current content was appropriate but that individual school information could be included for the schools requesting additional information.