Question Level Analysis is a really useful tool for use in schools.

It breaks the results of an assessment down into simpler parts – focusing in on successes and highlighting areas to focus on.

It can really help prepare for exams – looking at mocks or the results of the real thing but there is so much more to QLA than examination preparation…

This year, above all others, there is a greater need to look at where our pupils are and build a learning journey around them.

A recent study into writing has found that Year 7s are 22 months behind where we’d expect them to be at this time in the year. This was as a comparison between written work created Year 5 and Year 7.

One of the big insights from this assessment was the substantial amount of regression that has taken place. Pupils are 22 months behind where we would expect them to be at the start of Year 7. That is, they are working at almost exactly the same standard as Year 5s in November.

Source: No more Marking: Baseline Secondary Writing exemplars, 2020–21

As the research paper states, we do not expect that this regression will permanently hold students back, or that it will take years for them to recover. Research shows that when you have learnt something and forgotten it, you can relearn it in less time than it took the first time.

So, as Daisy Christodoulou states in the write-up

“As a result, we think that ‘learning decay’ might be a better term for what’s happening here than learning loss.”

Source: No more Marking: Baseline Secondary Writing exemplars, 2020–21

It is this “learning decay” that we are now working to challenge and defeat.

Accurate, valid and reliable assessment data can provide valuable information after a gap in school-based teaching.

Question Level Analysis breaks that assessment data down into meaningful insight that teachers, pupils and parents can all use to make a real difference.

It helps teachers to focus their teaching on the needs of their individual pupils – refining the curriculum to secure those marginal gains and enable better results.

It can help to guide the work set in the classroom or remotely at home knowing that the topics covered are the personal need of those pupils.

It enables staff to look at pupil groups, cohort groups, SEN needs and more.

It guides school decisions when targeting resources, or creating a new curriculum – giving valuable instructions for the future by looking at the gaps from the past. By looking at how your pupils performed, you can see exactly where you will want to make changes for later in this year or even the next.

It places teachers in a position of knowledge at a time where there is no real stability or consistency to the normal rhythm of learning in school.

“These reports are so thorough and useful. Subject leaders and Raising Standards Leaders in each primary school are going to be able to use this information to inform teaching and learning opportunities, not just in Year 6, but across the school!

Headteacher, Ravensthorpe Primary School

“Question Level Analysis is a great tool and really helps us to analyse our data in great detail. It have saved hours of work and allowed me to focus on how we can improve teaching and learning rather than spending time on the data analysis – a very welcome change.”

Headteacher, Captain Cook Primary School, Middlesbrough

“These tools have supported us to enable class teachers, subject leaders, senior leaders and governors to accurately evaluate their areas of responsibility and plan for school improvements over the coming 12 months.

Nottingham Schools Trust

Question Level Analysis also works on a personal level.

The whole of education is underpinned by the relationship between the teacher and pupil.

Research has shown that pupils learn at different rates and will respond differently to different tasks.

A teacher takes these points and brings them together allowing each pupil to learn in their own individual way.

To combat the “learning decay”, we need to never stop learning about our pupils. We need to begin the journey where they are, rather than focus on where we would like them to be, and how to get them all to that same point as quickly as possible.

We need to create a personal learning journey for them.

We need to understand them, get to know them once more and enable them to pick up their learning at a point that is right for them and continue working towards realising their true potential.

Early Assessment enables staff to work for the needs of their pupils regardless of the appearance (or not) of examinations later in the year.

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Question Level Analysis takes the results of an assessment and creates individual pupil profiles to enable the teacher and pupil to work on specific areas for improvement.

By breaking down a test result into different areas, it enables the pupil to focus on these topics knowing the overall improvement will come.

This analysis can work at many stages of the school journey – for example on arrival at Secondary school allowing staff to understand new pupils as they start their new school phase.

Thank you very much for this. The analysis is great and we really want to send the pupil profiles home to parents to help improvement.”

Head of Maths – Colonel Frank Seely Academy (Secondary)

“The QLA for each individual child is really useful when looking at specific children within groups SEN, FSM, PP looking particularly at their individual progress in each subject.”

Headteacher, Fernwood Primary School, Nottingham

“Question Level Analysis provides key topic evaluation to prioritise areas of focus in the catch up sessions enabling more targeted and focussed individual intervention to take place”.

Deepings School, Peterborough (Secondary)

In conclusion, Question Level Analysis is a vital and valuable tool for schools and pupils moving forward.

But what makes a good QLA? What should you be looking for?

Check out our 10 questions to ask below…

DAISI Question Level Analysis

DAISI Education have been creating bespoke Question Level Analysis since 2014.

Proven to improve your Results over time.
Pinpoint where pupil’s learning is secure
Individual Pupil Profiles.
Insight into Topics and Question Types.
Detailed Cohort Analysis saving you time.
Recommended by Schools across the country.

Primary Schools | Secondary Schools

Our wide range of Question Level Analysis Reports have helped many schools find the marginal gains they needed to improve their results over time. With Individual Pupil Profiles and Forensic Cohort Analysis, we firmly believe we give teachers the tools to help your pupils realise their potential.

“In my role as deputy headteacher of a big school as well as assessment coordinator, there is no way I have the time or capacity to complete QLA to the level & in the detail that the DAISI team do. They save me days of work & the information this gives me allows us to develop whole school targets that we can show improve the attainment of our pupils. I am a massive fan of Question Level Analysis and find it invaluable.

 Deputy Headteacher, Seely Primary & Nursery School, Nottingham

question-mark-2110767_1280.jpg | No Jitter

What makes a good Question Level Analysis?


Over the last few years, schools have been offered many different versions of Question Level Analysis to help with curriculum planning and future exam preparation.

We have prepared a set of 10 questions for you to ask to find the right one for you.

(DAISI QLA answers YES to all!)

1) Will I have to search for answers or is it easy to read? Will it save me time?

Remember the aim of this analysis is to save you time as a head/teacher so you are not searching through lots of data to find the answer. You need something that does all that for you.

2) Does the analysis look at Individual Questions or just general topics? 

Most Question Analysis actually only gives you the heads up around different topics but what if, you wanted to look at the different types of question? Were your pupils better at the quick questions and struggle with the longer ones? Knowing this could really benefit your planning in the years to come.

3) Does it break my results down into my individual cohorts, including vulnerable pupils? 

What about your disadvantaged/non-disadvantaged, SEN, EAL or mobile/non-mobile pupils? Why spend your time having to go through the data again and again when you could get the analysis to do that for you? Like with the ASP, it can take you a long time. A good QLA that does it for you..

4) Can you look at how different cohort types did on individual questions?

There is a lot of research that proves that different pupils learn in different ways. If you can help your different cohorts in a way that better reflects their ability in the tests, the marginal gains for your pupils could really help your overall results.

5) Can you break down where the marks were lost?

This is really helpful for future curriculum planning. With proper analysis and insight, you can see how marks could be improved with specific interventions and help teachers to refine their lesson planning to deal with the different types of questions in the future.

6) Can you come back to your QLA Analysis in future years?

Looking back at educational trends can be very powerful. A whole school focus can be implemented, checked and refreshed allowing for real improvements. You cannot see QLA for previous years in ASP.

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7) Can you read the results clearly?  

Data can be so difficult to understand and use properly. Some teachers choose to avoid it feeling it becomes judgemental and overbearing but if used and presented in the right way – it becomes a powerful tool for change. Ask yourself, how are the findings of the analysis presented to you? Is this something you could easily share with your teaching staff, colleagues or governors in a way that helps them help your pupils better or will you have to re-produce it again at a later date? 

8) Does it break the results down for each of my individual pupils?

Make sure the analysis works for you. Some QLAs are good but only offer overall figures and results. This means that there is information available that you are not able to access.

9)  Can you find comparisons within your LA/MAT thus allowing for best practice and collaborative working?

Too often, teachers feel their school is an island. “Our school data cannot be replicated anywhere else, our problems are our problems.” However, in most cases, this is not the case. By understanding how your pupils are achieving on different questions or in their different cohort groups, you have more chance for learning and collaborating with others. If many schools in your LA/MAT use the same QLA – you could ask for averages within the reports – thus streamlining the whole process even further.

10) Can you use the same analysis to help plan ahead? 

Many teachers use past KS2 SAT papers as a mock test as part of preparation for SATs. They are doing this so they can quickly find out how much of the Year 4 and Year 5 learning pupils can recall  and how they are progressing in Year 6 compared to the previous year’s national averages. By using the same Question Level Analysis for your mock tests and your end of year SATs, comparison through out the year becomes a lot easier and more consistent. The same analysis of the KS2 SATs papers can also be used for the start of secondary school allowing teachers to learn about their new pupils at the earliest opportunity.

Next steps

DAISI Education has been making Question Level Analysis since 2014.

  • Proven to improve your Results over time.
  • Pinpoint where pupil’s learning is secure with Individual Pupil Profiles.
  • Target the topics and types of questions needing further learning.
  • Detailed Cohort Analysis saving you time.
  • Recommended by Schools across the country.

Click here for more information


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