Joining forces with colleagues to share and interpret assessment results is a great way to enhance understanding of our students’ learning needs. Participating in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) is one effective way that we can facilitate this kind of collaboration. These PLCs can look different from school to school, but one thing is usually common across PLCs is the meaningful discussions that take place about assessment information and other student learning data.
The three most common PLCs include:
- Teacher Learning Communities (TLCs) – Where groups of teachers regularly collaborate to continuously improve their instructional practice with the goal of improving student learning.
- Whole-Faculty Study Groups – Where all teachers in a school participate in separate small study groups consisting usually of 3-5 teachers, each focusing on specific student learning needs.
- Grade-Level Teams – Where all teachers in a specific grade level work together to evaluate student learning needs and develop effective responses to all students at that grade level.
One way that teachers can collaborate in any of these PLCs (and others) is by creating and using a data wall.
Data walls—like the name implies—are displays of student data, and they make possible collaborative analysis of trends in individual and group learning. By putting information on the wall, you can quickly identify both the narrow and broader trends in student learning and discuss teaching strategies that could work in response to those trends.
An effective data wall will display:
- Student identifiers, such as name, initials, or ID number
- Coded Post-it notes or other markers that identify student grade levels or classes
- Subject area information
- Assessment data from the selected instrument, such as a student’s MAP® Growth™ RIT score from three interim assessment administrations (Fall, Winter, Spring)
- Any special coding for individual students, such as an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Title I