Effective Student Data Tracking In The Middle School Math Classroom

November 1, 2022 The Teaching Files No Comments

Incorporating effective student data tracking in the middle school math classroom does not have to be difficult, time consuming, or cutesy. Using a simple, stream-lined system is key to making tracking data in the classroom purposeful. If you’ve been wanting to start student data tracking in your classroom, keep reading for implementation steps and tips. This system has played a huge part in my students’ growth in math. Click here to see the Data Tracking Template.

Why Use Data Tracking With Students

In education, we are told to do a multitude of things to be a “better teacher”. Strategies, systems, this, and that… and at times you have to wonder what is actually “good teaching” and what will actually make a difference in my students’ learning… like an actual difference.

Of course, there isn’t always a one size fits all answer.

There is however a lot of research done by a man named John Hattie. If you aren’t familiar with Hattie or his book, Visible Learning, I highly suggest reading it to get the big picture but in a nutshell, he did the largest study to date that ranked what different influences had on student achievement. You can see the data and rankings here.

His rankings varied from “Potential to considerably  accelerate student achievement” all the way down to “Likely to have a negative impact on student achievement”. One of the top influences (the top according to the book on page 59), he found in his meta-analysis of over 80,000 studies was utilizing self-reported grades with students. 

Now, before we dive into how to incorporate effective data tracking with students, I want to be very clear in saying that this can look multiple ways. This is a system that has worked well for my students and myself and that has made an impact on their learning year after year.

I have gotten classes with under 15% proficient coming in from 5th grade leave at over 50% proficient when taking the rigorous SBA test in CA.

The correlation between student data tracking and student achievement is real. With that said, take what works for you from this post and make it your own.

A Simple Data Tracking System

Having a system for data tracking for students is the most important piece to get the ball rolling on this. Simple, clear, and manageable is the way to go if you are wanting to start implementing students tracking data. This system that my partner teacher and I use is super easy and allows for us to stay consistent with students.

At the start of the year, students get their own version of this data tracking page. We actually give them 2 so they have enough slots for the entire year and they glue them into their notebook. We have the same version of the data tracking forms printed in poster size and we display one for each of our math classes. It’s all set-up and ready to go for the entire year.

This probably sounds super simple, but remember that the less complicated the system, the easier to maintain and the more effective it is.

How The Data Tracking System Works

On the data trackers, students write the name of the quiz or test they took once they get their results back. For example, they may write Quiz #3: Unit Rates and Rates. Then, they color in the bar up to the % they got on the actual assessment. So if they got a 75%, they use their color pencil to color all the way up to 75%. They repeat this process for every assessment we take.

My school uses a program called Illuminate for assessments so we build our assessments in the system, but it also generates beautiful reports for us. With every assessment, students get a piece of scratch paper where they show all of their work. That is what they turn in. Illuminate has a report that prints a small slip with the students’ names and each question number with if they got it correct or incorrect next to it. At the top, it has their overall score.

This helps me easily grade and analyze student work and I put it into our grading system- Powerschool. This is where we input grades and where students can check their grades at all times. So when I give an assessment back, students open their notebook to their data tracker, get out a color pencil and log into Powerschool to find their percentage. Then, they are able to fill in their data tracker with their assessment data and determine if they need an error analysis page and if they need to attend a tutorial for a retake.

Whole Class Data Tracking

Whole class data tracking has gotten a bad rep in recent years. The times of putting students’ names or ID numbers with their grades is long gone and a practice that is not best for kids. When people see a glimpse of my system or hear me talking about whole class data tracking in the classroom, they often go to this assumption that I include students’ individual names or information.

Actually, my whole class data is far from that. I teach 3 classes of 6th grade math, so each poster I have is for each of my classes. When they take an assessment, just like they do in their notebook, I track the whole class percentage that got proficient (or passed) on that assessment. It has become a fun, non-intimidating way for students to get excited about data and they get a little competitive against the other classes.

A key piece to this system and why it is not intimidating is because I allow retakes on any assessment. To do this, they have to go through the error analysis process with peer tutoring in class, but their score and percentage is never final. They have opportunities to be better and are often motivated to do better to help their classes’ percentage get higher.

Student Progress and Mindset

Very much like we, as adults, like to know how we are doing and progressing through something, so do students. The mindset shift and view on assessments in math takes many pieces working together, but student data tracking is one very big component. The effect and impact it has on student growth and achievement has much more of a positive influence on students than any program or website.

Be mindful and purposeful with your system to ensure it is going to promote effective student data tracking in the middle school math classroom for your kids.

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