Data walls are a widespread practice in many schools, in which students’ test scores and other personal data are posted publicly in a school, along with their names, photos or other information that makes them identifiable. These practices not only shame students but also violate their privacy rights, as specified in the federal law called FERPA, in which only school officials or their designees engaged in research, evaluation or contractual services are able to access student personal information.
Here is an article about the damaging impact of data walls by a Virginia teacher; here is a post reprinted from Exceptional Delaware, in which the blogger Kevin Ohlandt explains how he is writing every Superintendent in the state to demand these walls come down. Here is his follow up post with the letter.
If any parent is interested in filing a FERPA complaint against the use of these data walls, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help him or her do so.
I will be emailing all Delaware Superintendents, Heads of School, and the DOE on this tomorrow, but I wanted to put it out there now. If any of you have ANY data walls with kid’s names on them or anything that could make a student easily identifiable by the peers in their class, you have until the end of the day on Thursday to get rid of them. If you don’t, I will start filing FERPA complaints against each and every one of the schools that ignore this. I don’t mean to play hard ball here, but you are violating the most sacrosanct part of education, the rights of the child.
I highly recommend ALL Delaware parents contact their schools and ask if they have these data walls in their child’s school. I also suggest they ask the principal or assistant principal to make sure their child IS NOT ON IT. I don’t care if you think your kid is the next Einstein. It is wrong to do this. I don’t care if it is the best charter school, magnet school, or regular school out there. It is a violation.
If you want to kill a child’s self-esteem, there is no easier way to do it than data walls. This latest disgusting and sick craze of schools is an actual posting in school hallways or a classroom of a child’s progress. Whoever thought this was a good idea is one sick individual. I’m sure it is great for the smart kids who are always on top. But for those who struggle it is a demeaning and humiliating experience. For priority schools in Delaware, this is a requirement. From the minds of those with no soul in the education reform world who don’t give a crap about children and their needs. For students with disabilities, this is just the latest smack on their beaten faces.
I call these “Data-shaming Walls”. I hate them (yes, hate) and here’s why you should too. In an age of anti-bullying, this is an in-your-face way of shaming l…ow-performers and their parents. The only folks that like these are parents whose children are the green or advanced levels; everyone else feels like crap. If you see one in your child’s school, please ask the teacher/administrator to take them down.
Mike Matthews said:
My unfiltered definition of what a data wall is? It’s a tool used to shame and bully students into making them do better. Under the guise of competition, someone who’s in the “red” will just magically, one day, decide to change his or her performance to get into the “yellow” or “green.”
For some students this will work. Fine. But for others, like the many children with special needs I’ve taught over the years, this will not work and will continue to be a demotivator and could… cause unnecessary emotional harm.
Last year at (x school) I had a young lady who came from the (y school). She was profoundly low. Many of the other students knew it, but we’re always very welcoming and supportive with her.
But what if I had one of these data walls? As the lowest-performing child in my class, what would this have done to her to see her name and picture “on the bottom?”
No. No data walls for me. In my classroom, I prefer regular conferencing with students to give them an update of where they are and where they need to be. This public shaming business has to end.
Don’t know what a data wall is? Thanks to E.R. Educators to the Rescue for posting this.
Other people (mostly teachers) had this to say about these pathetic data walls:
I’m shocked that student performance is publicly posted. That’s a clear violation of privacy. The only time I effectively used public posting of data is when I compared percentage passing the test to time studied by each student and found a strong correlation. Blew their minds that it actually mattered.
This is an epically bad idea on par with New Coke.
I’m still floored that they posted PHOTOS! Now, the other students can properly identify and chide the lowest performers.
Doesn’t this violate FERPA?You’ve hit a nerve in every proper educator with this topic.
I would certainly think so. I don’t even put student’s names on the board. In the beginning of the year I give them each a number. We use the number instead of a name so that parents and other educators can’t see what going on and the students maintain their dignity. A data wall is exactly the opposite! We are taking a huge step backwards with this!
Yes, they are a violation!!! Would teachers want a similar wall based on their DPAS in the faculty room. Would admin want one based on theirs?Definitely. If I’m not allowed to have a list viewable which tells of life threatening allergies, then I surely shouldn’t have a chart visible for students own data tracking. Does anyone remember the year that we had to discuss personal growth goals and then reward students who achieved their goals? And I teach kindergarten!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My whole class got rewarded because I value them more than their data.I wouldn’t do it. Suspend me for insubordination if you must, but I would not do it.Basically posting students scores on a chart for all to see.Bahahaha! This one comment: “How about posting each one of your paychecks or your weight? Seems only fitting the teacher share in this glorious display of data.”
So, we’re taking away creative play and limiting recess, adding more testing and less instruction, and then thinking this will lead to better test scores and kids caring about the boring, stressful testing moments of their days? Ugh. Education reform needs a reality check on the positive growth and development of children.Horrible, terrible, miserable, anti-empathetic, anti-teacher-like behavior.