The Top 5 Reasons to Make Student Growth Data Visible

If your state is implementing a new student growth model for teacher evaluation, you are well versed in assessment. In fact, you may feel like assessments are coming out of your ears!

Showing growth in art education means we are able to track where students start in their learning, how they progress, and where they end up. Many of you probably are required to submit an SLO (or similar) document at the end of the year or collection period.

Collecting this data is a lot of work. Since you’ve already put the work in, I want to encourage you to take it one step further. Consider sharing your growth data with parents, community members, and colleagues. Think of it as an advocacy tool. Chances are, your students made excellent growth this year, and everyone should know about it!

Consider sharing your growth data with parents, community members, and colleagues. Think of it as an advocacy tool.

Here are the top five reasons to make student growth data visible:

  1. It helps you recognize that all the hard work you’re putting in is actually paying off.
  2. It demands extra accountability, which can be a bit scary but will ultimately push you to become a better teacher.
  3. It allows your colleagues and administration to visualize and recognize the learning going on in your classroom.
  4. It provides concrete evidence for those who still think art is all about “finger painting.”
  5. It can inspire students to take charge of their own learning.

How can you go about doing this? You could submit data in your school’s monthly newsletter, write an article about your students’ growth over the course of the year, or even present at a PTO meeting with student artwork samples to supplement the data.

Here is another creative idea to publicly display pre- and post-test data in your school.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 11.54.00 AM

You can see the pre-test data already displayed on the bulletin board along with the learning objective, “I can understand, identify and create landscapes with a foreground, middle ground, and background.” After the teacher gives the post-test, they will add a second pie for each class to show student growth.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 11.56.16 AM

I love this take on data collection!

If your state is implementing a new teacher evaluation model tied to student growth next year, raise your hand! You are not alone. In fact, 30 (and counting) states are requiring that teacher evaluations include some evidence of student learning. In 2011, states were offered the chance to gain flexibility with some of the main components of the No Child Left Behind Act in exchange for abiding by some new ideas, one of them being tying teacher evaluations to test scores. You can read more about this, and check the status of your state, right here. Art teachers aren’t exempt from this. It will impact ALL teachers.

If this conversation sounds familiar, you know who you are. If not, it will sound familiar very soon!

Tell us, what state do you teach in? What is the status of using student growth in teacher evaluations?

What are you doing to share your student growth data at the end of this year?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is AOEU’s Founder and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.

More from Jessica