Making Data Foundational!

danyaby Danya Pastuszek
Continuous Improvement Director

If you walk down the hallways at Guadalupe Charter School in Salt Lake City, you’ll notice foot traffic. Ernie Nix, the principal, is walking in and out of classrooms, helping teachers by taking note of student engagement. You’ll also notice that data is displayed on nearly every wall. People notice it, and they stop to process it.

On the longest section of hallway, butcher paper has been cut and colored into a mountain range. This is known as “Data Mountain.” The mountain represents percentage points for math and reading in each grade. Movable cutouts of students have been placed near the percentage point that represents that grade’s proficiency in that subject. Every visitor, staff member, volunteer, and student who walks by sees how well each grade is performing.IMG_0188

To the left of the mountain, pie charts show more detail of how different groups of students are doing. To the right are colorful posters that tell you the percentage increase that each grade level as a whole needs to achieve by June 2013.

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Guadalupe also has a “Wall of Honor.” Here hangs ANY academic work that a teacher marks with 100% or A+. When students achieve at this level, they alert the principal. When I was there, a first grader ran up to his principal, arms extended with a 100% assignment. Principal Nix excused himself from our conversation, found a stapler, and stapled the student’s assignment to the “Wall of Honor.” Principal Nix offered a beaming smile, a “well done,” and an energetic high five. Principal Nix says, “If you want students to achieve academically, your physical space has to be all about academic achievement.”

Lastly, Guadalupe has one final data wall called “Internal Data – Going Green.” At a glance, any staff member who works with the students can see the their progress toward grade level achievement and interventions can be targeted as needed. This data wall also compares Guadalupe’s academic outcomes against other schools in Utah with similar demographics. The ultimate goal is to have all the students enter the “green” level, where they will be at or above grade level proficiency.

“When you know how we are doing as compared to others, and you can identify the schools that have student populations similar to yours, you can see what’s possible.  We aren’t doing as well as some other schools in Utah who have a similar number of economically disadvantaged kids. That’s not okay. We want every kid in this school succeed.” Principal Nix said.

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Guadalupe and its data walls provide an example of how to make data foundational to an organization, a community, and its work. Way to go Guadalupe! We hope all of your students “GO GREEN!”

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