Unscalable Data Walls: How Not to Track Students

Exam Grade Tracking

A data wall might sound like some sort of sophisticated, high-tech app, but for one school district we worked for, this was about as low-tech as things could possibly get. For them, it was literally a wall. Attached to the wall was a sheet with pockets on it, and in those pockets were color-coded, hand-written index cards with students’ test results.

The school district used this data wall to keep track of student test scores, and, even more importantly, to try to determine which students were struggling with their work, but the way the information was being handled was labor-intensive, and without any way to search through the data wall except by hand and color codes, the actual tool obscured more information than it showed.

Growing Class Size Increases Challenges

That’s not to say the teachers were doing a poor job. The data wall was as well organized and strictly maintained as it could be, but there’s one major problem: a system like that is not scalable. At a time when classrooms were smaller, a system like the data wall might have worked, but with more and more students in classes, the amount of upkeep a data wall like that would need could almost be another person’s full-time job.

As it was, this was a huge time expenditure on the part of the people keeping the wall up to date, and more importantly, as things scaled upwards, it was getting harder and harder to track struggling students, so not only was the system cumbersome and hard to maintain, it was also keeping the school district from their goal of tracking students. As a result, at-risk students were harder to identify and harder to help.

Traditional Teachers Turned Into Digital Districts

Here at Append Media, we think that software should be just as useful for five people as it should be for hundreds, so we make sure that the solutions we provide can function at any scale and can help any number of people accomplish their goals. For the school district, scalability was being prevented by several factors. Even something as simple as the physical size of the wall they were using would prevent them from making that system much larger.

We provided them with a web-based app that they could use to do the same work that the data wall was doing, but could do it much more effectively, efficiently, and far more reliably. Since an app also doesn’t have the limitations of a physical wall, the solution we made for the school district was also scalable, so no matter how many students needed to be accounted for and no matter how many test results were entered, our software would continue to work.

Happy Data Management Ever After

We also have the knowledge that our solution had a bigger impact as well. Struggling students that ran the risk of slipping through the cracks before were now easier to see and therefore easier to help. Our solution not only helped the school district with their data management, but it also empowered students to succeed.

If you’re looking at your own data management practices and wondering if they would still work as your organization continues to grow, get in touch with us. We’ll do what we can to help make sure your data is working for you at any scale you need.