ACER EPPC 2015 Conference – Using Google Forms to drive differentiated instruction

This week I will be co-presenting a paper at the ACER Excellence in Professional Practice Conference in Sydney with Phillip Holmes-Smith. Philip has worked closely with our school in the last few years and has been instrumental in pushing our thinking when it comes to data literacy and fluency.

The session aims to describe the process in which our school has undertaken to improve outcomes in mathematics by using Google Forms for assessing skills and concepts for and of learning. The presentation builds upon previous talks I have given (particularly at #GAFEsummit) but is more explicit in the rationale behind our initiative and the associated improvements in outcomes which are drastic.



At St. Mark’s Primary School in Dingley, Victoria, teachers have developed an effective and
efficient approach to teaching mathematics in the senior years. For several years the school was faced with NAPLAN results which indicated average performing students in mathematics. The school desired to lift this by structuring an approach to mathematics where the use of data was central to the teaching and learning process.

The teachers developed a scope and sequence of curriculum for each area of mathematics. They used them with students who were able to plot and track their learning at various stages of development. The teachers designed assessments using a free tool, Google Forms (a web based data collector). Students take the online assessment as a pre-test of their learning. The data of 125 students is captured instantaneously, the test graded automatically, and the students are sent an email with their results. They use it to plot their current stage of learning on their scope and sequence.

With a guiding hand, they make decisions and elect to position themselves at given stations to suit their progress. The teachers design activities, tasks, and pathways to deliver explicit instruction of skills and concepts in mathematics over 6 lessons. At the end of the unit, the same assessment is taken as a post test of learning.

The approach developed at the school has led to several improvements. Time and money has been saved, but most importantly, the strategy has demonstrated significant improvement in learning outcomes for students. Teachers calculate effect sizes for individual students and cohorts to track growth.

The data correlates to more longitudinal sets like NAPLAN and PAT-M which confirm the effectiveness of the approach. This presentation will unpack the data and explain the process employed in detail.

2 thoughts on “ACER EPPC 2015 Conference – Using Google Forms to drive differentiated instruction

  1. Great work Anthony. I think that Forms offers so much. Just wondering what you do with the ZPD etc … Clearly, Holmes-Smith’s Excel documents don’t translate to Google, what have you done then in regards to ‘conditioning’ etc … Our teachers spend so much time assessing the responses, rather than analysing the data. Think that this has huge potential.
    Also, the notion of responses sent straight to the students reminds me of Kenneth Durham’s use of Autocrat for observations:


    • Thanks Aaron,

      Philip takes credit for those graphs which are based on PAT-M and NAPLAN numeracy data. Phillip has helped our school set targets for our School Improvement Plan based on this type of evidence.

      As teachers we knew our effect on each unit, but we wanted to be sure that it was translating into a cumulative and long term development of students over Semesters and years. Pleasingly, using PAT-M and Naplan data we have confirmed this to be the case. We have been using his software Student Performance Analyser for a number of years now, and more recently, SPA Markbook.

      The Performance Analyser makes it really easy to track cohorts of students across different data sets. The Markbook can now ingest pre and post data to assist with ZPD.

      See more about Phillip’s work here –




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