Saturday, May 2, 2015

Walls of Shame
by Anne Pritchett
May, 2015


Introduction


There has been an increasing emphasis on data in our elementary schools since the implementation of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in 2002. Partly because of the requirements of this comprehensive federal law, teachers are being asked to collect, examine, analyze, and share data in many ways that were unheard of just 15 years ago. Beginning with attendance every morning, data is collected all day long. Standardized test scores, formative classroom assessments, online tests aligned with curriculum, fluency scores in Reading and Math, time on task for individual students, homework completion, and attendance are some examples of data being gathered on our children.


This data collection has turned teachers into analysts and students into guinea pigs. When parents come to meet with teachers to discuss their child’s progress in school, they are presented with pages and pages of numbers. While little if any professional development has been offered to teachers to help them understand the data their district is requiring, parents are even more confused by this data.


There are also many new ways of sharing data in our schools. Student privacy is no longer a consideration in many school districts, where a public display of data is required in each classroom. Many teachers have created eye catching data displays and some include pictures as well as names of individual students. Data reflective of entire classrooms, grade levels and school buildings is often displayed in district administrative offices and is easily located on the internet. Websites have been created to collect and store teacher salaries and various types of rating scales which supposedly are indicative of teacher quality. There is no such thing as private data.


In conversations with teachers, administrators and parents, an obvious broad spectrum of understanding data is emerging. Most admit not understanding best practices for using data and very few know that federal privacy laws (FERPA) were modified by the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) to allow data to be shared.


I decided to survey teachers and parents to find out how extensive these data collection practices are, if teachers find them useful, and if parents understand the data attached to their children and how it is being used.


Literature Review


A plethora of data walls from the Oakland CA School DIstrict

How ‘data walls’ in classrooms humiliate kids

Turning Children into Data: A Skeptic’s Guide to Assessment Programs


Teacher Survey questions and results


What kinds of data do you collect in your classroom? Check all that apply:


Answer Choices
Responses
Attendance
87.88%
87
Formative test scores
80.81%
80
Reading fluency levels
50.51%
50
Math facts fluency levels
36.36%
36
IEP goal progress
41.41%
41
Student reading logs
31.31%
31
Data cycle data
25.25%
25
Parent communication log
53.54%
53
Other (please specify)
23.23%
23
Total Respondents: 99

Does your school administration require you to collect data?


Answer Choices
Responses
Yes
86.00%
86
No
14.00%
14
Total
100










Do you feel collecting data helps increase student achievement?   
Answer Choices
Responses
Yes
51.00%
51
No
49.00%
49
Total
100

If you answered yes to question #3, what kinds of data do you find has a positive impact in your classroom? Check all that apply.



Answer Choices
Responses
Attendance
34.55%
19
Formative test scores
54.55%
30
Reading fluency levels
34.55%
19
Math facts fluency levels
18.18%
10
IEP goal progress
38.18%
21
Student reading logs
9.09%
5
Data cycle data
1.82%
1
Parent communication log
18.18%
10
Other (please specify)
27.27%
1


Showing 15 responses


Ongoing informal assessment of where the children are with their understanding of skills.


Behavioral observations


test item analysis on formative teacher generated assessment


EP (Academically Gifted Goals) data


Individual reading and writing conferences


informal observations


definitely summative evaluations


My snapshot data is used to guide further instruction-my instruction


Frequent quizzes help students know how they are doing


Running record miscue analysis is important for me. I find it helps me support children in reading development. When I know what's going on with kids outside of school, it helps me plan proactively to support them academically and emotionally. I sometimes can hook families up with additional supports, too.


Sharing data/scores with kids and giving them achievable goals to better themselves.


Running records & other "data" of my choosing--i think you have missed an opportunity to truly separate the crap data required by districts and the actual stuff that we use for the next day's instruction--huge difference and any info can be called data.


interest level in class activities/projects


The data collection is not the problem. It's who sees it and for what purpose.


Student portfolios, Writing journals, scored writing samples using 6+1 traits
Total Respondents: 55

Do you feel collecting data has improved your instructional practices?   


Answer Choices
Responses
Yes
39.39%
39
No
60.61%
60
Total
99

Is student data publicly displayed in your school and/or district?
Answer Choices
Responses
Yes
36.00%
36
No
64.00%
64
Total
100


If data is publicly displayed, are individual students identified?


Answer Choices
Responses
Yes
5.43%
5
No
38.04%
35
Not applicable
56.52%
52
Total
92


If data is publicly displayed, are individual teachers identified?


Answer Choices
Responses
Yes
14.44%
13
No
28.89%
26
Not applicable
56.67%
51
Total
90

Have any parents or students complained to you about the use of data in your school?


Answer Choices
Responses
Yes
12.37%
12
No
87.63%
85
Total
97


Do you know what FERPA is?


Answer Choices
Responses
Yes
67.00%
67
No
33.00%
33
Total
100

Parent Survey questions and results


How well do you understand the data your child’s school shares with you regarding your child’s academic progress?


Answer Choices
Responses
I understand the data very well.
34.48%
30
I understand most of the data.
42.53%
37
I understand about half of the data.
11.49%
10
I understand a little of the data.
10.34%
9
I don't understand the data at all.
1.15%
1
Total
87


Has this data been helpful to you as a parent?


Answer Choices
Responses
Yes, very helpful.
5.68%
5
It's been somewhat helpful.
47.73%
42
It has not helped at all.
46.59%
41
Total
88


Do you discuss this data with your child?


Answer Choices
Responses
Yes
55.17%
48
No
44.83%
39
Total
87


Does your child understand this data?


Answer Choices
Responses
Yes
44.83%
39
No
55.17%
48
Total
87


Have you been asked to give permission for your child’s data to be shared?


Answer Choices
Responses
Yes
14.77%
13
No
85.23%
75
Total
88

Some school districts require schools to post student data with identifying information. Would you approve of your child’s data being shared in this way?


Answer Choices
Responses
Yes
5.75%
5
No
94.25%
82
Total
87



When I sent out the link to the surveys, I received the following comments:


It seems that clarification should be made about what "publicly" means.


Done: can you let us know what the results are. Sounds interesting.


My first thought: NOT MORE DATA! MAKE IT STOP!


DATA...it's not just for breakfast anymore.


did this. It might have been helpful to ask what subject the respondent teaches. I am a visual art teacher as such I
have access to data but am not responsible for data collection.


I did this too...I am a special ed teacher...specialized data related to student goals.


Had to ponder "does collecting data improve instructional practice". Had to answer no as it is what I DO with the data that improves my instruction. Sped collects tons of AimsWeb data and it sits there as far as I can see


I started the survey but feel it is flawed because there are certain types of data that are helpful and others that are not.


Conclusion


I posted the links to my surveys on several social networking sites. The first day I received over 100 responses from teachers. Survey Monkey will only allow me to collect 100 responses, but I had over 400 teachers and 88 parents take my surveys.


Not surprisingly, 88% of teachers reported taking attendance. In order, the other data collected by teachers was Formative Test Scores,  Parent Communication Logs, Reading Fluency Levels, IEP Goal Progress, Math Facts Fluency Levels, Student Reading Logs, and Data Cycle Data.


86% of teachers reported being required by school administration to collect data but only 51% said it has helped to increase student achievement, with Formative Assessment as the number one response. 60% of teachers reported collecting data has not improved their instructional practice.


64% of teachers reported that student data is not publicly displayed in their school and/or district. 5% reported that this data identifies individual students. 14% reported individual teachers are identified. 12% of teachers reported parents had complained to them about the use of data in their school. 67% of teachers reported they do know what FERPA is.


42% of parents reported that they do understand the data their child’s school shares with them. 46% reported that this data has not been helpful to them. 55% discuss this data with their child and 44% reported that their child does not understand the data. Most surprisingly, 85% of parents reported they had not been asked to give permission for their child’s data to be shared and 95% of parents reported they would not approve of their child’s data being posted on the wall in their school.


The examples I found of data walls on the internet show that student privacy is often ignored when creating colorful displays for the data collected. As a special education teacher, my eyes are always drawn to the names at the bottom of these data walls. I can’t imagine why any of the children I work with would be motivated to increase their achievement when they see their name displayed like this on a Wall of Shame.

The results of my research and survey indicate that while the use of data is increasing in our elementary schools, we have done a poor job of educating teachers on how to best use this data and we have not informed parents of its value. School administrators at the local, state and federal level need to examine this practice and refine its use or it will just become another time waster for teachers while our students are humiliated.





Here are some examples of data walls I found on the internet.

Names on data wall but photo shop to mark through them before shared on the internet.















Labels, labels, labels??















Another picture of a data wall labeled with names but they are partially cropped out for the internet 
picture.











PLEASE NOTE: I have deliberately not identified any of the teachers, schools, or school districts where these data walls are posted. I also deliberately surveyed teachers and parents from across the country and not just in my own school district.



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