Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Data Wall Or Shaming Wall

I recently came across this article about student data walls in the classroom. I agree, data walls shame our students.

There are not many topics in education that I will stand up on my soap box for, but I feel very strongly about keeping student progress private. This is,of course, because of personal experiences as a child. 

A few chocolate chips made of construction paper destroyed my confidence in math, which carried over all the way to high school.

In third grade, my teacher created a bulletin board with blank chocolate chip cookies. For each multiplication table learned we would earn a chocolate chip. The class would receive a pizza party when everyone had filled up their cookie with all 12 chocolate chips. 

Guess who ended the school year with just FOUR chocolate chips? 

That's right, yours truly. Imagine also that all of the other students in the class had successfully learned their multiplication tables and that by the end of the year you were the only one taking the weekly tests. . . . I was the reason that the class did not have their pizza party. My teacher was quick to tell the class that this was the very first year she had not been able to have said pizza party . . . Needless to say, I learned to hate math. (But not cookies, which is why I need to love the gym more)

Fast forward to 12th grade, when I was taking Algebra II for the second time. I was an honors student so this was extremely depressing for me. I had the most AMAZING first year teacher who completely changed my outlook on math and gave me an incredible amount of confidence. His teachings carried over into college and gave me a passion for math that I try to channel into my own students today.

I know that my case is probably an extreme one, but I will NEVER share student data with other students on a wall or in any other way. 

I've proven in my classroom, that it is possible to motivate struggling students without a public competition.Sometimes all you need is a competition with yourself and a supportive teacher who will give you the tools you need to overcome every obstacle. 

I would love to know your thoughts on this hot topic, leave your comments below. :) 


  1. Interesting perspective. I think there's a way to do data walls that don't shame students. We set class goals, with no names attached, just number of kids. Like, X number of kids know their addition facts. Y number are almost there. Z number have far to go. The goal is for those who are almost here to work a little bit harder to meet a class goal of X + Y students. We also keep a data wall, based on improvements, so each student is working on a different skill, whether it's behavior or academic. We monitor progress on how much a student has improve. Each child has his own data in a notebook, and he chooses what to share. I think there are ways to create data walls that don't shame students. I agree that we shouldn't put names or numbers that indicate specific students on public walls. Here is how I use data in my classroom: SMART Goal Setting

  2. uggg... I struggle with data walls. They are a 'non-negotiable' at my school so I try to make them as vague as necessary. For example, for our addition facts, I keep a running graph of how many have passed each one- no names, no numbers, no identifying information. I don't really like it, but I feel stuck. I don't set goal/rewards based on the data wall, but set individual goals based on each students progress. For this reason, I prefer data notebooks for each child. I just wish I had more time to go over each student's data on a one on one basis with them.

    Primary on the Prowl

  3. I recently read the same article and wondered how many school were actually using a data wall. Our school has regular data team meetings where progress results are communicated only to the teachers by the administrator and we keep those progress notes in data binders for our eyes only. I hope we are never mandated to create a display because I'm not sure how I would feel about that. I have even taken down some of my own cutesy incentive charts for the reasons you mentioned above Casey. It is good to always be mindful that a public display may not motivate students to perform any better than they already are for us. Thank you for sharing your story with us!

    Creative Lesson Cafe

  4. If anyone had had their child come home in total despair because they felt they were just too dumb to be going to school anymore would understand just how harmful data walls can be. Even when they don't name names so that the public (or other parents know) the child knows. And when they are doing everything they can to move on the chart and its just not working it breaks your heart. These sort of charts don't take into account learning disabilities or difficulties, and for me just highlight to the child again and again how they don't measure up rather than as an incentive to work harder. So yep I'm standing on the soap box right by you and shouting out NO!!! I know there are kiddo's out there that do need a push cause they could work harder, but there are too many that are doing their very best everyday with no results for it!!!

  5. WOW! you have made me realize that my multiplication sundaes that are up for display are/is a wall of shame for students struggling to learn their multiplication facts. It will be taken down and glued into their Math INB for their private viewing. Thank you!


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