EdFOCUS works with schools to help staffs analyze test data, prioritizing the strengths and weaknesses into a Data Wall. Unlike some data walls that simply post the mean scores for each test item, the EdFOCUS Data Wall posts the concepts or skills represented by multiple test items. The EdFOCUS Data Wall is compiled separately for each subject, and posts those skills and concepts that are the strongest in green ink and those that are weakest or pose the greatest need in red ink. For each subject, grade-level Data Walls help the staff to recognize developmental patterns and trends year-to-year. Some districts request further disaggregations such as ELL or Special Need students, students new to the school, or sometimes gender.
Some schools add a third layer - yellow. Their “greens” are those tested concepts for which 75% of the students scored well; their “reds” are concepts where fewer than 50% of the students showed understanding; and they add “yellow” to indicate those concepts for which 50-74% of the students showed success.
For the Data Walls to do the most good, they are posted in the teacher’s work room where they are a constant reminder of the victories ( or what can be built-on) as well as the areas needing continuous work and remediation. Throughout the year, the staff works on the “red ink” concepts through professional development in team meetings. Teachers constantly add sticky-notes to the posted skills - both to encourage each other with turnarounds experienced by their students and to ask for help in skills that just won’t seem to budge.
Teams use the “red” ink concepts, for example, to develop specific intervention techniques for those students who need them. But even the “red” ink concepts were mastered by some of the students, so one of the EdFOCUS activities is to discover what techniques worked for some students and mimic these with less successful students. The EdFOCUS consultants bring a wide array of experiences in hundreds of classrooms to offer suggestions that they have seen work.
In some schools, a concern is common to several grade levels; in others, the concerns are grade-specific. Whichever the case, the Data Wall is an excellent concrete way to prioritize needs and strengths, post them for continuous reference, and indicate progress throughout the year.