A classroom data wall can build student ownership of learning, be an opportunity for celebration and reflection, and can push kids to grow quickly! It doesn’t have to be embarrassing or so high stakes that kids get anxious about their performance.
One teacher in our building has crafted the perfect classroom data wall, and I can’t wait to show you how it works!
My posts often contain affiliate links. If you click on a link, I may earn pennies on the dollar without affecting your purchase price. Read more here.
What is a data wall in a classroom?
A classroom data wall gives kids the opportunity to see how they are progressing as a class or individually on common formative assessments or regular benchmark testing.
A classroom data wall can be set up for one class if you’re self contained, or it can compare classes to one another if you’re a departmentalized teacher.
It can showcase achievement levels in the room or it can show growth. In some cases, like the one I’ll show you below, a classroom data wall can display growth and achievement!
Finally, your data wall can spotlight one particular skill you’re focusing on as a class, or it can show a summed data point for an entire test. Examples of both are below.
- 6 Clever Teacher Desk Ideas to Spruce Up Your Classroom Today
- 9 Classroom Lighting Ideas for Improved Creativity and Fewer Headaches
Are data walls a FERPA violation?
Data walls are not a FERPA violation if they do not use student names. Using student names is absolutely not necessary to motivating students and tracking classroom progress toward a shared goal.
Some teachers avoid FERPA violations by using animals for data points (pictured below) and others use class numbers that are assigned to each student.
How do you track data in the classroom?
There are several really great ways to track data in the classroom. Here are the most common choices.
Classroom Data Wall that Tracks Group Progress Toward Objectives
Below is a sample data wall that is posted to the hallway outside the classroom. This one shows class averages for individual objectives that are being measured. Since this picture was taken before the first day of school, there’s no achievement being measured. The teacher uses red Duck tape to show progress as the year goes on.
Classroom Data Wall that Monitors Overall Scores for Individual Students
This is my favorite classroom data wall ever because it measures both growth and achievement.
As a school, we code below 50s on benchmarks tests and the STAAR test with red, approaching grade level with yellow, meeting grade level as blue, and masters as green.
You can see that each student has been assigned an animal printed on color coded cardstock.
The color assigned to each animal represents their achievement level at the end of the previous year. This is a 5th grade class, so their color shows how well they did on the 4th grade STAAR. Since this photo was taken before the first day of school, none of the students had an opportunity to grow past their starting level.
I do not have a photo to represent it, but her classroom data wall looks totally different now. It’s so exciting because students who have a red card because of how they ended the previous year are now in the blue zone because they have grown so quickly.
The cards are made with laminated cardstock hot glued to a magnet.
Using a clipboard to monitor student data has two big benefits:
- It’s super portable and can be updated later digitally if you want.
- You can use a clipboard for observational records by using a simple check or dot system.
You can copy and paste a roster into a new excel spreadsheet or Google sheet. Across the top on the X axis, hand write or type out whatever objectives need to be measured. I like this strategy because you can easily break down your objectives into smaller learning targets.
For example, if your objective is to teach kids to write in complete sentences, you can break that down into three different targets and measure each one separately to see where the learning breaks down. It might look like this:
- Student produces a full sentence.
- Sentence begins with a capital letter.
- Student uses appropriate ending punctuation.
At our school, we call practice “aggressive monitoring,” which requires the teacher to announce the “lap” that she’s walking to the class and then monitor accordingly. Below is a great training video on how to do aggressive monitoring.
I think this type of data tracking is excellent for measuring smaller learning targets along the way, and it can be excellent for maintaining rigor in lower grades where kids are tested less frequently on paper. For example, you can use aggressive monitoring to check kids’ letter/sound correspondence.
Many teachers on Teachers Pay Teachers have put countless hours into producing comprehensive data binder pages. These are teacher resources, and you’ll often find them used in lower grades where kids aren’t ready yet to track their own progress.
- Here’s a great example of a teacher data binder. It’s targeted specifically to pre-k and kinder.
- This highly reviewed data binder is commonly used in 1st-3rd grades, and it includes components for both the teacher and student. Most importantly, it’s compatible with GoodNotes and Google Drive.
- This is the perfect teacher binder for Guided Reading and reading conferences.
Student Data Folders
One way to help students take ownership of their own learning is with student data folders. Again, there are countless editable options on Teachers Pay Teachers, but you can pretty easily design one that perfectly suits your needs.
The idea behind a student data folder is that students monitor their own growth using different printed spreadsheets. Some teachers of older kids will do this with an online platform instead.
This can be as simple or complicated as you want it to be. Some teachers will just use a single document and others will compile several different trackers and spreadsheets into a file folder that gets used every time scores come back on a test.
Here are some student data folders on Teachers Pay Teachers:
- This one is a favorite for 2nd and 3rd grade teachers.
- Here’s a lapbook for data tracking that would be motivating for kids.
- This tracker collection is simple but effective, as well!
Concluding Thoughts on Classroom Data Walls
My favorite way to build student ownership of learning and foster a team atmosphere is with a classroom data wall. I also love the transparency for administrators and other guests to your classroom, as well.
Students can privately conference with you at your data wall and discreetly move their tokens across the board. Teachers can even point out huge gains and celebrate group progress without identifying names.