data · tcrwp

The Faces of Data

At the end of October, a team of us at school gathered to meet with individual teachers for data talks. Together, we discussed school-wide and classroom data. The group consisted of our principal, special education teacher, intervention teacher, school counselor, and myself. We studied school-wide data for reading and writing, and with the classroom teacher, we discussed practices we should to continue, practices that we should stop, and most importantly, practices should start. 

When our colleagues arrived, we spent about 45 minutes analyzing school-wide and individual classroom data. The chart below is our school-wide data chart. Teachers were to share anything they noticed about the data.

 Several colleagues shared 80% of students were at or near benchmark. Considering the pandemic, that should be something to celebrate. Next, we provided individual class data that broke down the percentage of students at or near benchmark, students considered in tier 1, tier 2, and tier 3.

The sample above is from a 2nd-grade classroom. After teachers entered data from benchmarks, our intervention teacher and I entered them into these spreadsheets. From here, our principal invited each teacher to share what is working and what may be challenging. Our K-2 team shared that the new Phonics Units of Study from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project supports students with phonological awareness. In comparison, our upper-grade team shared small reading groups and have been helping the students in our classes. Students who fell in tiers 2 and 3 were offered a double dose of support by our intervention teacher and myself. 

Who are the Faces Behind the Data

After meeting with individual teachers, we asked our team to bring their class rosters to the next staff meeting. We spent 45 minutes of our time together becoming more intentional about knowing the students in our classrooms. To get us started, I shared that students’ names were siloed into columns during data talks. Faces of data allow us to pause and know the person, circumstance, and probable cause behind the data. 

Educational researcher John Hattie conducted a mega research to discover what practices had the least and most impact on student achievement. The greater the effect size the more influential the practice is on student achievement. It’s not surprising to find students learn more when they feel there is a genuine connection with their teacher. 

Below are some practices and effect sizes:

To become more intentional about our students, our principal invited teachers to write three facts they know about each student in their classroom. Of the whole class, teachers chose five students to be curious about. Below is a screenshot of the directions to the faces of the data.


Rita Pierson’s TED Talk, “Every Child Needs a Champion” reminds us that children don’t learn from people they don’t like. Hattie’s research quantifies it by explaining it holds a negative effect size. Who are five students you are going to be intentionally curious about?

4 thoughts on “The Faces of Data

  1. WOW! Thank you for taking time to step by step explain how your school gathers and uses data. I especially love the last part. It took me back to TCRWP when I also heard them talk of this strategy. I will humbly admit that while I know I must know my students, I can spend more time on planning the content I will teach instead of learning about the students in front on me. The step you shared that is sticking with me are #3 and #4 – to be CURIOUS and write down questions for these students. Thank you for the nudge. Thanks for helping me teach better in VA. Happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful for you and this writing comunity.


  2. “Faces of the data” is so important. We have to see the children behind the numbers (and the labels). Taking time to do so is what will move kids forward. Because, as you and your colleagues know, no child is a number, a reading level, or a score.


  3. I love that you are looking at this. I can attest to and extrapolate that the effect also occurs with other subject areas and at higher grade levels. It’s so very important to know your students. Investing in knowledge about them will only help them to learn. Thank you.


  4. I remember being asked if I believed this truth during an interview – “students don’t learn from people don’t like”. I did not believe it to be true and said so, following it up with some explanation that probably made no sense to the interviewer. She hired me anyway, and I learned this truth and so much more about building relationships with kids. Thank you for the work you do and sharing it us. This truth is why I am intentional about getting to know my Scholars as well as their families as much as possible.


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