Data Tracking in a Middle School Classroom

April 24, 2016

Data Tracking in a Middle School Classroom

April 24, 2016
Hey y’all!

One of favorite things to do in my classroom with my kids is data tracking. I know how nerdy that sounds, but I truly believe that connecting students with their own learning data is a game changer for investing students in your classroom vision and goals. Putting accountability on the students, instead of them thinking school is just something they “get” helps keeps students focused, as well as helps them feel successful. I wanted to share how I facilitate data tracking in my 8th grade language arts classroom because I feel like the majority of examples found on Pinterest and elsewhere are for elementary classrooms.

Figuring out how to “do data”, has been a learning process for me. I’ve always kept up with learning data for students myself, but it took me a while to figure out a system that worked for me, was manageable with 120 students, and was also meaningful for kids that they could also participate in.  

1. Classroom Data Wall  

I searched and searched Pinterest for middle school data wall examples that I thought would be useful, interactive, and meaningful enough to take up precious wall space for and I found this example on Pinterest for inspiration. I adapted that to become what is pictured below.

I use post-it page markers (purple/blue=1st period, yellow=2nd period, Pink=3rd period, Orange=4th period) that the kids or I place in the correct box to show where they are (1=novice, 2=apprentice, 3=proficient, 4=distinguished) at any given time for each standard (bottom grid) and for their SRI scores (top grid).. This is great to visually show students where everyone is, as well as to help them set goals.

Of course, I don’t have the students put their names on them! I would never want a student to feel badly or embarrassed, especially if they are in the 1 category for a few standards starting out. The students choose a number for themselves that only I know, and they can track themselves from there. See the picture below for a close up. For example, for standard 8.5, blue #6 is distinguished (Student who chose #6 from my 1st period class).
Close up of data wall in my classroom. The 4 colors represent 4 class period and student pick the numbers to represent them, instead of me putting their names on their tab. 
I love displaying data like this because it also helps students recognize their successes. Some of my students who are typically not the best test-takers can break down their numbers to see that although they have to recover some standards and aren’t quite there yet, they have also mastered certain standards. For example, a student who has traditionally been an apprentice student (~60%) connects more intentionally with seeing that they have maybe mastered 2 standards completely, and are approaching mastery with 2 standards. . . that sounds a LOT better than a 60%! 
Another part of the data wall is the Lexile level tracker. My students take the SRI (Scholastic Reading Index) tests 3 times a year to get their reading level score and for us to measure growth. The students chart their Lexile data on a line as they track their progress to our class big goal.

2. Posting Standards Posters

Next to the data wall, I post all of the reading standards, and some of the writing standards. Next year, I will probably put them in key rings to hang for students to flip through, or will only post our focus standards per 6 weeks with their rubrics and have the others available to see (just for the sake of space). Although it takes up a LOT of space, I love having them posted for myself, as well as for the kids to familiarize themselves with them. Having the students not only be able to talk about their data in a real way, but understand what goes into each standard is a huge key in getting novices out of novice and helping others key into what they need to do to move up.

I post the Reading: Informational and Reading: Literature standards on different colored paper because again, I want students to really understand the skills they are being asked to master. I want my classroom to be able to move beyond the “I got 8 out of 10 so I’m proficient” talk. This is definitely a huge work in progress, but having the standards posted, visible, and where students can access them has been a HUGE help!

(I have standards posters like these for 6th, 7th, 8th grade ELA and Math in my store, and will be adding more soon!)

3. Student Tracking Books

Outside of having student learning data posted, I have students keep a detailed student tracking book. After each assessment they need to track, they record how they did in detail, down to the specific questions they got correct, and incorrect. Students figure out what questions those standards correlated to, and which standards they showed mastery of, or need to work on. They then put their test performance on a bar graph so they can track their progress (by standard) from pre-tests and post-tests. Students also keep track of their reading level growth, and on-demand writing/extended response/short answer scores. It sounds like a lot, but once it is routine for the kids after the first few times, it is easy! 

I’m working on a tracking book for middle/high school students that can be adapted for different subjects–I will share as soon as it is finished!Again, I really like data tracking with my students. I think it is important for them to buy into their progress, and really understand why they are doing what they are doing in class each day.

I’m always checking blogs and Pinterest posts to see how others are tracking data to see if this process can be refined or if there is something that could work better, so of course, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section! How do you track data in your classroom? Any new ideas to share? Let me hear them!


p.s. Want to start a teacher blog just like this one? My friend, Suzi, wrote an ebook that can help you get started!

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  • Kenisha Smith August 11, 2016 at 1:09 am

    I would love to have more information on your data notebooks! Data tracking is an area that I want to expand on this year! Is it in TPT store? Kenisha

  • Kelsey Hayes August 11, 2016 at 1:12 am

    Hey there! it is not in the TPT store…yet. 🙂 I'm hopefully going to finish revamping it this weekend and I'll upload it!

    I will email you more details, too!

  • KBeal August 28, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    Can you email me as well?- when you have the data notebooks in your TPT store? Thank you!

  • KBeal August 28, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    Could you please email me as well about your data notebooks? I am looking for a organized system to track data for my students. Thank you!

  • Kelsey Hayes August 28, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    Yes! (Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you…I've been away from the blog since we started school…but I'm back!)

    Hope you've had a great start to the year!

  • KBeal October 1, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    Thank you Kelsey! Do you have any idea when you will be sharing this information? I hope your school year is going well!

  • Krisanna July 3, 2017 at 11:45 am

    Wow! Thanks for sharing this information! This is a great place to start. I definitely see a data wall in my future!

  • Sara Elizabeth July 24, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Did you put the student student tracking page on your TPT?

    • kelseynhayes July 25, 2017 at 9:32 pm

      Hello! No, I am hoping to have it up in the next 2 weeks, though! If you follow my TPT page, I’ll send an alert out when it’s up!

  • stephani d joiner August 10, 2017 at 6:33 am

    What is SRI?

    • kelseynhayes August 20, 2017 at 5:22 pm

      It stands for “Scholastic Reading Inventory”, but I think it isn’t owned by Scholastic anymore so now it is just “Reading Inventory”. It is an online test my students take 3 times a year to determine their Lexile levels.

  • Zane Miko August 31, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Can you put a link to the TPT page?

  • Brittany September 1, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    HI Kelsey! I would love to know more information about your data tracking binder! I tried something like this during my first year of teaching but found that it was too much to keep up with. I would love any advice/resources you have! I looked in your TPT store but didn’t see anything about data tracking. Thanks!

  • Ursula October 14, 2017 at 9:45 pm

    I would love a copy, of how you keep data in your room. I teach 8 ELA. Do you use spring board in your class?

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    Hi, I'm Kelsey! I started A Blog for Teachers to have a landing pad for the Teacher Blogger Seller Network. I hope you find the resources here helpful and will reach out if you'd like to connect!


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