Student presenting data wall bar graph
Inside the Classroom

Celebrate Student Success with Data Walls

While many educators are using data to drive instruction and influence decision making, some are also using it to drive student success. When visiting schools with online learning classrooms, I often see data walls that showcase student data (within the parameters of federal legislation that protects the privacy of academic records). These data walls were constructed carefully to celebrate student success without embarrassing the students who are struggling. The data walls provide feedback on student progress with information that can lead to increased motivation and, consequently, improved engagement with learning.

Here’s what a data wall looks like

The data wall below is a simple bar chart on a teacher’s whiteboard. Students see their progress, and color-coded chunks communicate additional details about daily work.

Celebrate Student 1

Use the data to reward your students

Teachers who use data walls will usually have a variety of ways to celebrate success. Mr. Godfrey, a teacher in Kansas City, Missouri, celebrates weekly winners who made the most progress. He also recognizes a “valedictorian” who has the highest overall progress in a certain period of time. He says students get very excited about simply being recognized. Often, students who have never been successful in a traditional classroom are greatly encouraged by recognition of their progress. In addition to visual recognition, some teachers have rewards that can be as simple as a free Slurpee, a time-out card to listen to music, or a comfy chair to sit in.

Teacher showing his data wall for students

Names are covered to protect the privacy of the students.


Graduation data walls

I have also seen wonderful examples of how teachers use data walls to celebrate student progress toward graduation. The data wall below uses inexpensive framed certificates for each course students complete. When students graduate, they take the framed certificate as recognition of work they accomplished in the online program. The teacher who designed this wall told me that many of her students had never received certificates, so they get very excited about being recognized for their success.

Wall of certificates

Names are covered to protect the privacy of the students.

Get creative

The wall below is another great example of using data to motivate students and celebrate success. The teacher created simple graduation caps for each student. Every time a student completed a course and received credit, he or she got a sticky dot to place on his or her cap.

Celebrate Student 4

My challenge to teachers

Before school starts, consider how you can use data effectively to drive student success. Get creative and have fun as you think of ways to recognize students. Design your wall to celebrate success in a way that is fair and equitable to all students. And, be sure to set up your wall to protect the privacy of each student’s academic achievement.

If you have a good classroom idea to share, post your suggestion in the comments section below. We can all benefit from your expertise!


About the Author


Susan Powell

Susan has an EdD in educational leadership with an emphasis on organizational change and school reform. She has experience with technology, curriculum and instruction, assessment, and program implementation, with a focus in online learning. She is a Strategic Account Manager for Edgenuity and works with large districts, consulting with them about online and blended learning to help districts, schools, and educators better serve their students with the use of technology.