Delaware Public Schools: You Have Until Thursday To Get Rid Of Your Data Walls Or I Start Filing FERPA Complaints

Data Walls

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.


This morning on Facebook, the current president of the Red Clay Education Association brought this up, as well as the growing in popularity E.R. Educators to the Rescue page.

ER wrote:

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 low-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.

The Washington Post thinks these are an abomination whereas the mighty Scholastic thinks they are the greatest thing since white bread.

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.
So there you have it folks.  Teachers hate these things.  They should fire whoever came up with this crap.  Seriously.  I’m guessing they don’t have kids or they had some horrible accident where all the feeling and emotion got sucked out of them.
Remember Delaware public schools…Thursday…the clock starts ticking NOW!

39 thoughts on “Delaware Public Schools: You Have Until Thursday To Get Rid Of Your Data Walls Or I Start Filing FERPA Complaints

  1. I hate to tell you this, but data walls are nothing new. Data walls have been used to shame students since NCLB was signed into law in 2002.


  2. It wasn’t done with a single thought of the kids… it was done to “manage teachers” and to deride teachers, to force teachers to DEMONSTRATE that they use data “to inform decision-making” in the classroom, in lesson planning… AS IF A TEACHER ALIVE DOESN’T HAVE A RUNNING SPREADSHEET IN HIS/HER HEAD AT ALL TIMES.

    The point of DATA WALLS has been nothing more than a tool to “keep teachers in line” by making them afraid for their jobs. We were warned that we MUST put them up and we were down-graded on our evaluations if we did not have them posted somewhere highly visible.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Teachers don’t really have that power. We are incredibly educated, we make low pay and we have very little say. It’s because there is no respect. They can replace us with lesser trained teachers that graduate from fake schools like RELAY. There is more wrong with schools that data mining. The whole structure is under attack. Your best bet is to support and value veteran teachers who still have heart (just no voice).


  3. Even top students can hate that stuff. I was valedictorian at my prep school. The first time they surprised us with “calling the honor students up to get their awards” during assembly. The second time I went to them and said, “Don’t call my name. I don’t study to impress you or to embarrass my classmates. I do it because I like it.”

    Manipulating students with rewards and punishment is intrinsically disrespectful.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t believe that anyone thinks this is a good idea. I am a teacher in California, and thank goodness things have not come to this. I urge parents not to blame the teachers here, because I feel fairly confident that teachers are not behind this ridiculousness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. But some teachers in California did post score and reward bulletin boards. Depending on the child’s test scores, they would have a mark that would move them closer to the reward….candy, ice cream sundae, etc. This was back in the late 90s.


  5. I’m in California, and we had to put up Data Walls. I passively refused and used data folders for the kids to see how they were doing privately. This is more garbage from corporate America pretending they know more about education than teachers.


  6. It has nothing to do with the actual school. This is a mandate from the state. How do I know this, because the majority of school systems throughout the country are doing it. It is pushed by corporations, the one entity that travels across boundaries. Why do this? Because the test is their golden ticket. Without the test the imperialists cannot hijack the public funds in the education coffer. Data is code for self-promotion and self-preservation. Trust me, a teacher, who’s a professional can tell deficiencies and areas that need assistance in the first week of school. Data actually takes away from the relationships teachers need to build with each child. Parents are being duped by modern day imperialists. They can’t steal your land and resources anymore so this is their new scheme, public funds. Go to the Congo back in the day of imperialism and they cut the hand off of the person who did not comply. For teachers it’s part of their evaluation and their chance of not being renewed. Then the bought school board gets a contract with TFA, who tells their uncertified employees this is a mandate under their two year contract and the imperialists scheme wins. Low pay and yes sir at the expense of the locals. Walla it’s imperialism. Wake up America, the imperialists who historically raped the earth are now raping you.


  7. I was going to make a comment, but it just boggles my mind how people are so touchy feeling that they can’t help children to live in the real world. Talk to the parents, they are the ones who need to be teaching their children self-respect.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Children are children. The real world is for teenagers getting ready to enter the “real world” and for adults. Why do so many feel children should be part of that world at such a young age? I really don’t get it…


    2. The massive amount of parents who believe they have no teaching role is growing daily. They do not see education as a partnership with teachers as it should be. This is probably why this has gone on so long…

      Parents should be teaching their children self-respect and teachers should modeling it. This is not modeling self respect but negative peer pressure.


    3. I agree, Delores. Parents who seek to remove every obstacle their children encounter in life may have the best of intentions, but they’re setting them up for failure as adults.


      1. I agree with that as well. But I am talking about student “achievement” based on the most superficial assessments, hung up on a wall for all to see. Students with disabilities and struggling students who try very hard but may not have the same IQ range as their peers should NOT be compared for public consumption. Let’s not confuse the real issue I am talking about and parenting in general. Many who oppose THIS thing would be inclined to agree with you that parents must raise their children to become adults and guide them towards seeking whatever potential they have to become a well-rounded member of the “real world”. But the way children are used with these data walls isn’t the way to go.


          1. If the data walls can be seen without students being able to figure out who is who at a minimum, and there is NO personal identifiable information, I don’t care. I don’t agree with them, but my biggest complaint is the shaming a student could feel. But we all know how well opt out has worked in Delaware! Seriously though, how many parents even know what the heck a data wall even is?


  8. I agree, these are bad. Whg is this just now coming to a point were it is being threatened to be taken to higher authorities? The school year is over. Teachers are taking things down. They can simply take them down, pretend they won’t put them back up but go back next year and start all over. A bit late on the draw, if we need something done about it, do in the middle (or beginning) of the school year when it is in full usage.

    Power to yiu for being proactive but maybe save yiur battle for the next school year to prove it wrong in all areas of use?


      1. You just found out about them? Not wanting an agurment here, I just want you to see from an educators view. All teachers are taking things down, they are going to meet your demands whether they see your note or not. Research it, prepare a sound debate and if they are up at the beginning of next school year, FIGHT.


      1. Great! Thanks. I figured you knew which schools were doing this. I will look for the update. I am with you on this one…..I don’t think it’s right.


  9. Great blog post about a serious issue affecting many classrooms and kids. But I found this sentence to be pretty horrible:
    “Seriously, I’m guessing they don’t have kids or they had some terrible accident where all the feeling and emotion got sucked out of them.”
    There are plenty of people who don’t have kids, either by choice or because they are unable to, who still love, care for, and advocate for children. And, for the record, there are plenty of people who have children of their own who do plenty of things that aren’t in the best interests of children. Connecting these horrid classroom practices to not having children is untrue, unfair, and derogatory.


    1. Probably not the best sentence I ever wrote, and it didn’t apply to every single teacher out there. But I have seen teachers who actually think it is okay to put these stupid data walls up that results in a public shaming of children with disabilities, children who struggle, and sets up the worst educational practice I have ever seen in my life.


    1. Sorry about that Mel. It has been a very busy past few weeks. I should have updated. The most egregious of schools had taken them down and other schools had teachers taking down their things because it was reaching the end of the school year. But it is one of my top priorities for next year to actively monitor this insane practice.


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