Friday, October 1, 2010

The Power of a Data Room

The previous 2 years my superintendent and I talked about having a data wall or data room, but this year we finally made it happen. Being a data-driven geek, I was thrilled to finally have this come to fruition. If you don't know anything about Data Walls, please check out for a video clip on the Power of Data Walls.

Our data room is in what was previously our speech therapist's office, so it's only big enough to cram in up to 8 people for a meeting. We are K-12 all in one building, so we have one wall for elementary and one wall for for 6-12. At the elementary, we have the wall divided into 3 rows to display student data on Reading Levels (using the DRA at K-3 and Fountas & Pinnell benchmark at 4/5), Reading Lexiles from the Scholastic Reading Inventory in 3-5th grades and Math Quantiles from the Scholastic Math Inventory in 2-5th grades. We have little bulls-eye targets that provide a visual of the end of year benchmark for each grade level. When student magnets are placed on the board, it is very easy to see how many students are below or above the benchmark. The data just jumps out at you!!

On our 6-12 board, we have a row for the Scholastic Math Inventory and Scholastic Reading Inventory up through 9th grades. We also have a row that will be used for tracking where discipline referrals orginiated (i.e. classroom, lunchroom, bus, etc.) with the implementation of PBIS.

As the elementary principal, we have been having our biweekly grade level meetings in the data room and have found it to be extremely useful. The room is a work in progress, but we started out the year with last year's Spring reading levels on and used the additional blank magnets as we decided where to place students for our intervention block, which we are calling WIN Time (What I Need).


  1. This is my first year as Asst. Principal for two elementary schools in two different districts in rural Iowa. I am in charge of testing and the data that goes with it. I have completed grade level test data binders for one school (modeled from the 2nd school that were completed) and hoped that the data inside readily available for teachers would inspire staff to use it more often. I was looking for away to go to the next level with a visual aid, I really like the data room and would like that for my goal for next year. Thanks so much for the idea. Now to think about what I would like to include in the data room, why, and how I hope the staff would utilize it. Wow I have a lot of work to do. Do you have any trouble with staff who have children in the district and privacy of test results?

    1. Here in Green Hills AEA (SW Iowa) we have several schools using data walls to track students in efforts to get all to mastery at the end of the year. The discussions around the data wall is valuable in getting ALL students where they need to be.

  2. Thank you for your comment. As far as staff with students, I'm not aware of any issues. It is for the entire K-12 staff to view, so there are quite a few staff with students that have the opportunity to see it.
    After attending a conference with Jim Wright, here are a few more resources I found on Data Walls that might be helpful for you:
    What are data walls (school examples):
    What Happens when teachers use a data wall?,%20Doris%20Mentor%20Research%20Paper.pdf
    "The Science Fair for Grownups"

  3. I'm sorry those didn't post as links (not sure why). You'll have to copy/paste.

  4. I love this, but it definitely would need to have multiple walls on my campus with 700 students. Perhaps by grade level? I'm sending this link off to my academic coach so we can more easily see data for placement in appropriate interventions. THANKS for the share!

  5. If the data is so important, why not put it on a large wall for the whole school to see? Why does it have to be relegated to a small office/closet? I cannot imagine why a data wall would make a difference. Is standardized testing data the only information that you have about student learning? How about teachers sitting around and going through portfolios of authentic learning samples from students and really getting to know their students?

    1. Because data rooms show confidential information (like which students are in special education) they cannot be shown to the whole school. Only personel with an education need may participate in the data room.

      Also, the data room must be objective. Opinions don't count in the data room! Therefore, only data can run changes and decisions made. Unfortunatly we are rated on standardized tests, so that is often a focus in the data room. However, many schools don't only use that information. But, they cannot use teacher opinion or subjective work samples. There must be clearcut guidelines.

      We just partially implemented a data room this year, and will have a full year with it next year. We are very excited! The school I worked in previously used a data room. It changed the whole culture of the school and boosted test scores. If anything, I hope that our data room helps "catch" those students who previously fall through the cracks.


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