What is your opinion on data walls?
My perspective is that data walls have several limitations. First, data walls are usually comprised of mostly summative and formal assessment data. Conferring notes and other important pieces of qualitative student information often do not make it on the wall. I also struggle with the immobility of data walls. When expert teachers formatively assess their students, many times they make smart conclusions about their students’ needs during the flow of instruction. Teachers don’t then stop their teaching and say, “Hold on to that thought, because I need to move you along the data wall!” Responsive teachers use that information to alter their immediate instruction in order to provide their students with the best teaching possible. Thirdly, hosting data walls focuses an inordinate amount of attention on outcomes and not enough time on the thinking processes of students. Great teachers, in my humble opinion, try to climb inside their learners’ heads to find out what they know and are able to do. They then use this information to provide feedback. This helps their students generalize the strategies that will allow them to be self-directed learners.
This does not even consider the fact that much of our assessment data can now be housed digitally. Even conferring notes can be stored in applications like CCPensieve and Evernote. I don’t know, I could be way off base on this. My school have dabbled with student data walls in the past. They often only seem to heighten awareness of strengths and deficiencies, but rarely change practices. Maybe I have not used them with fidelity, or given them enough time to flourish. What has changed practices in my school is having a strong set of learning beliefs that everyone owns + systems in place (i.e. instructional walks) that hold ourselves accountable for implementing teaching strategies that work.
What is your experience and current position on data walls? Please share in the comments.