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How to Effectively Track Student Progress

illustration of goal setting diagram

By The TFA Editorial Team

April 22, 2015

Tracking student progress plays a key role in being an effective teacher. Having students see their growth and review how it relates to bigger goals increases student investment. Plus, tracking helps you, as the teacher, stay invested and continue to increase your own effectiveness by seeing trends in student data.

Learn more about tracking student progress in the following post adapted from a lesson by Teach For America alum Ashley Boven.

By setting up an effective tracking system, you can determine what students are and aren’t getting from your lesson plans, when to slow down, when to speed up, when to re-teach, when to move on, when to celebrate, and when to ask yourself, “What teacher action is causing these gaps/strengths?”

A good tracking system should:

  • Fit your style of teaching and management
  • Be time efficient
  • Be relatable to the students
  • Be updated regularly
  • Connect to the your big goal

Student vs. Teacher Tracking

There are two main types of tracking: student-centered tracking and teacher-centered tracking. Teacher-centered tracking is a system that you are in control of and update and convey its messages/trends to your students. This tracking is generally more isolated from the rest of your classroom structures, and since it is driven by you, it will not thrive as much on student investment. This tracking should not only be in the form of a personal spreadsheet other system, but also visual, class-by-class or student-by-student trackers displayed in your classroom and on hall walls.

Student-centered tracking systems generally require more instructional time than a teacher-centered system, but offer more student investment since students are driving the tracking and trend discoveries, and making connections of their own. Student tracking systems usually center around some sort of individual goal setting, and chart that progress using various forms of student-friendly organizers such as big idea/objective inventories, unit by unit graphs, or objective by objective charts.

What should I track? When should I track?

What you should track depends first and foremost on your content area and grade level. Since the point of tracking is increasing your effectiveness and student investment, pick what you track based on those two things. Personally track students' mastery and progress towards your big goal. Visually track what will mean the most to your students, and therefore invest them. Some examples of student-centered tracking include:

  • Homework turn-ins
  • Objective mastery percentages
  • Proficiency levels
  • Quiz scores
  • Unit test scores
  • Time spent reading
  • Behavior
  • Be creative! Stay in tune with your students!

When should you track? As often as possible! The more up to date your data is, the more invested your kids will be, and the more knowledgeable you will be about their strengths and areas of need—both individually and class by class.

The more you stay invested in your tracking systems, the more your students will stay invested, and all of this will lead to heightened levels of student achievement!