Saturday, August 30, 2008

Organizing student data in Excel

Since our district has adopted DIBELS as a literacy measure I would like to share how I use Excel to help me organize and analyse my student data. The Dynamic Indicators of Early Literacy Success tests has an online feature that is helpful but I like to keep student data in a format that allows me to group students more meaningfully.

First I create a spreadsheet with the DIBELS Benchmark measures. I add a column for nonsense words recoded. Then I add columns for data from the core phonics survey.

I select each column and then apply conditional formatting to populate the cell with a specific color based on a number range to indicate if the student skill is considered benchmark, strategic, or intensive. I use the DIBELS ranges for the DIBELs measures but I have my own set of cut-off ranges for Core Phonics data.

I then sort the data by Nonsense Word Fluency and NWF words recoded. Letter Naming Fluency is also a good indicator of reading ability for first graders (though sometimes not a good measure for ELL students). This gives me a general layout that allows me to make general groupings. I use the more specific Core Phonics data to fine tune my groups.

Finally, I set up additional worksheets within the Excel document for progress monitoring and for Winter and Spring Benchmark data. I add a worksheet that details what letter sounds and letter names have not been mastered for each student so that I can differentiate my instruction at the individual level. I add district writing scores and CELA scores so that I can have a very robust data set at a glance.


Jeff Lewis said...


This is great! I especially like the way you add other data so it is all there at a glance. Would you be willing to share this by posting on the GL wiki or emailing directly? I would be interested in using it.


Lisa Kellogg said...

That is quite similar to how I do it as well. The conditional formatting is especially helpful. Once my whole team enters in their data, we add them all to one spreadsheet and can sort using ORF to make our reading groups across the team.
Great idea for sharing, Jon.

Jon Fisher said...

I posted it to the Global Learner Wiki. You'll have to tweak it for your grade level.

Jon Fisher said...

I guess I should add a link for you. Here is the link to the file on the Global Learner Wiki:

Janell Sueltz said...


Great work using all of your data and providing a visual representation of the data. I, too, think this is really usual in determining what children we need to target, especially as they move into the upper grades. An low ORF score for a 4th graders doesn't really provide us the information we needed to determine instructional focus. You've developed a very visual way to do that.

Would you consider teaching others how they can do that with their data?

Thank you.

Janell Sueltz

Jon Fisher said...

I would be open to teaching others how to do this with data.
Next week I will be holding an Excel class at my school.
What I may do is create a screencast on how to use conditional formatting in Excel. If anyone has any other suggestions let me know.

Jeff Lewis said...


I am using your format to track the DIBELS data with my fourth graders. In fourth it is only ORF and retell, so I added columns to track MAPs data and added conditional formatting to color the cells and created a formula so it would automatically populate the cell with U, PP, P or A. I will post about it and put the file with yours on the wiki. I really think yours and Nicole's idea about monitoring notes can bring some efficiency to they way we use this data. Thanks.

Alex said...

There are many files on my PC. But I missed all my excel files several days before. As luck would have it I could come back all my data. But what is more the software would assist in multifarious issues quite easily - Microsoft Excel this file is not in a recognizable format.