Data walls in action: Using evidence to drive student learning

​​Carlton Gardens Primary School take you step-by-step through their data wall and how it targets different curriculum areas and student needs.

Bringing in data walls to Carlton Gardens Primary School was a reaction to the ambitious goals the leadership set as part of their school strategic plan.

'We had data everywhere and each team had data on their own children,' explains Principal Tina McDougall.

'Each grade head teacher had data on their own children. I wanted a whole school picture of the data, so we developed the data walls.'

How Carlton Gardens use data walls

Data walls at Carlton Gardens serve a dual purpose; first and foremost it brought the data together so that each teacher could see students and their abilities across the curriculum, and second it allowed the school to work together to identify strengths and weaknesses in their own teaching and chart a course toward practice excellence.

Leading Teachers Andrew Bloomfield, Maire Clapham and Hollie Winfield were integral to the process of implementing the strategy and discuss below how their school uses data walls to catalyse change and what benefits they've seen so far.

​​

Making sense of your data

Categorising data with available assessment tools to measure growth

Carlton Gardens Primary School has broken up their student's learning by curriculum area, so they can see students' skill development and identify opportunities to address strengths and weaknesses.

Andrew Bloomfield explains that the first data wall they started with was literacy, being their top priority for development. The school also aligned their data walls to the third-party reading-level assessment tool, Fountas and Pinnell.

'The literacy data wall shows the Fountas and Pinnell level of every child in the school. It's colour coded, so orange numbers are the grade ones through to the yellow numbers are the grade sixes.'

Each tag not only has the student's name and year level but includes their starting level, so that growth can be measured over a term or the whole year.

Using data walls to identify areas for student support

In the case of the writing data wall, which is colour coded by Victorian curriculum level, teachers at Carlton Gardens can see each and every student allocated against the levels they're performing against.

The data wall records the students' name, their class and the score they were given at the start of the year. Colour coding helps them quickly and clearly understand which students may need additional support either to meet their expected growth for the year or to be pushed forwards after high levels of success already.

'At a glance, I can see children who are doing really well, some children that may not be doing so well,' said Principal McDougall.

'Globally, I can then go and pick members of the PLC, speak to individual teachers and ask: What's happened with this child? What resource do we need to support this child?'

Interpreting data to improve teaching practice

Building shared ownership of school improvement

Large-scale updates of the data walls happen at the end of each semester and take into account teacher judgements and individual assessments. The leadership team isn't looking to see students above and beyond their expected levels for their age, what they're hoping to see is the growth that has taken place in their learning and the impact of the support that teachers have made available.

'Our data walls allow us, as a leadership team to, if we see amazing student growth, to go up to that child when I see them out in the yard and go: Fantastic. I saw that you are up to level P, that's amazing,' said Andrew.

This kind of shared responsibility allows the school to work collaboratively around students who may not be as high achieving.

'Teachers are aware that it's not an attack on their performance. It's about a shared responsibility to all the students within your sch​​ool.'

Reflecting on what works and what needs to change

Since implementing data walls at their school, the spread of data was really affirming for staff to see not only are their students achieving well, but that the teaching practices in place were being affirmed.

Among all the data, Andrew explains how the leadership team could now see where systemic change is needed to amend a practice that isn't delivering outcomes for students.

'For some people, if they see student results from their class up on the wall, it could be really confronting and it's important to talk about,' said Andrew.

'But it's a collective thing, we're not judging you as a teacher.'

'Some teachers are great at teaching math, some teachers are great at teaching reading, some teachers are great at teaching writing.'

'This is about supporting you as a teacher, to giv​​e you those skills to help students achieve, and it's also catering for our students' need.'

How can I implement data walls in my school?

The Department has developed professional practice note and teacher tip resources to draw on the best available evidence from international research, leading experts and case studies from high-performing schools.​

​Professional practice note 5: Using data walls to turn data into instruction

Review the teacher tip
A quick guide to professional practice note 5: Using data walls to turn data into instruction​

Explore effective practice from other schools

This video case study is one of many from the Effective Practice Project, which identified and captured the stories of 15 schools in the South West Victoria Region as they implemented the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes.

Explore more effective practice
The effective practice project showcases excellence in Victorian school teaching practices​