The Use of Data Walls In Classrooms

An example of a data wall.

Data walls are an education trend implemented in some classrooms. The idea is that it would motivate students by providing them with a sense of their progress on assessments and where they stand in comparison to their classmates. Their identity is hidden, but teachers provide students a code so they can see their score and the unidentified scores of their classmates. Sometimes data walls are not displayed where students and parents can see (like in a teachers’ lounge), but in some cases they are.

EdSurge has a story that says data walls may cause more harm than good. You think?

Tina Nazerian, reporting for EdSurge, writes:

One such critic is Launa Hall. Back when she was a third grade teacher at a school in Virginia, Hall put up a data wall in her classroom. But the data wall, which tracked students’ scores on state standards, didn’t stay up for long. 

Hall, who chronicled her experience for the Washington Post back in 2016, wrote that the first morning after she put up the data wall, one of her students had a negative reaction. She “lowered her gaze to the floor and shuffled to her chair” after she saw where she was placed on the math achievement chart, she wrote. Since then, Hall has come to believe that the “public marking of where people are” is ineffective. 

“It doesn’t give them the actual tools to fix the problem,” she says. 

And what’s more, she doesn’t think public displays of their data tells students anything they don’t already know about their performance. Instead, she says data walls emphasize the wrong thing.

There are some kids that I am sure are motivated by this like those who do well. For those students who are struggling the data wall becomes a wall of shame. What a lame-brained idea, not to mention it would not be that hard for students to figure out whose scores belong to whose.

Read the full article.

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