Maximizing the Effectiveness of Exit Tickets

Last month’s blog featured Hanna Jadin, Founding Dean of Students at Milwaukee Excellence Charter School, which is in its second year of serving 6th and 7th graders. In March, we highlighted their seven step process for using data to inform academic and cultural changes. They’re doing so much cool stuff with data that we couldn’t stop with just one post! For part 2, we wanted to focus on one of their data-driven techniques that has reaped major rewards: exit ticket trackers.

One of the issues Hanna Jadin and her team identified as they were going through their seven step process was that it was hard for teachers and students to know where they stood in between assessments.

“I teach 7th grade math. My problem was that I walked out of class each day and I didn’t know if my students knew what they were doing, because the assessments for the curriculum I teach are pretty intense.” – Andrew Faber, 7th grade math teacher

An effective and common solution to the issue faced by Mr. Faber is an exit ticket. Exit tickets are a type of formative assessment – typically a quick 3-5 question quiz administered in the last 5-10 minutes of a class period – which focuses on content from that day’s class. However, Hanna Jadin noticed that exit tickets’ effectiveness varied widely from teacher to teacher and from class to class. Her team wanted to maximize the impact of exit tickets from multiple perspectives: 1) as an informational tool for teachers to gauge students’ learning, 2) as a way of motivating students, and 3) as a way of holding teachers accountable for student achievement every day. So, Ms. Jadin and her team came up with a plan to truly integrate exit tickets into their school’s daily routine. This plan included:

  • Mandating that every teacher administers an exit ticket every day, for every class
  • Equipping their teachers with Schoolrunner’s data tracking & analysis tool that allows them to scan and grade students’ exit tickets results in seconds, so that kids can see their scores instantly 
  • Creating visible exit ticket trackers in each classroom that are updated at least twice a week

Within that framework, teachers have the freedom to make exit tickets their own. Seventh grade math teacher Andrew Faber gives his students seven minutes at the end of every class to answer four questions. He scans and grades them before his kids even leave the classroom, and students pull up their scores on their chromebooks. Each class has their own chant, and the entire class does the chant to celebrate students who score an 80% or above on the exit ticket. According to Mr. Faber:

“Besides the fun part of it, the kids really really really got invested. Now it’s exit ticket time and the only thing that matters is that exit ticket. The kids who didn’t do the work before are feeling empowered to do the work because now they’re part of the clapping chants and the screaming you hear from the hallway. Kids go running out of the class to show Mr. Thomas [the school’s Founder & Executive Director] their exit ticket. This is how we went from behavior focus to academic focus.”

Armed with instantaneous data about the effectiveness of his daily instruction, Mr. Faber knows where to focus his attention – from a student perspective and from an instructional perspective. If he sees that certain students scored poorly on a day’s exit ticket, he’ll keep those students at the end of that very class for a few minutes, or ask them to stop by at the end of the day, and work with them then and there to resolve any confusion revealed in the exit ticket. Further, if there are certain questions that a majority of students struggled with, he can revisit those concepts during the next class, or group students according to areas of strength and weakness.

So, did the structure that Ms. Jadin and team created around exit tickets help Milwaukee Excellence teachers and administrators better gauge student learning? According to Mr. Faber, “the kids like being able to walk out of class and say, ‘Did I get this, or did I not?’ And I like it too; it’s really allowed me to close that gap every day.”

Do the exit ticket trackers truly motivate students to focus more on their learning? Ms. Jadin says that, “now, kids can visibly see how they are winning – ‘look how many stickers I have!’. You’d be amazed what middle schoolers would do for a sticker.”

And does this emphasis on exit tickets challenge teachers to improve their practice? Mr. Faber claims that “…it holds me more accountable than I’ve ever been. The kids are holding ME accountable.”

Ms. Jadin and the Milwaukee Excellence team’s refinement of the exit ticket process – with the help of Schoorunner’s data tracking & analysis capabilities – has provoked seismic shifts in student motivation. When teachers and administrators can see their data in real-time, they can use it to personalize and refine instruction. When students can see their data in real-time, they can use it as motivation to reshape their behavior, academic performance, and ultimately, their future. Ms. Jadin and her team’s emphasis on exit tickets has helped Milwaukee Excellence Charter School with their schoolwide mission of deterring attention from behavior and refocusing it on academic achievement. In summary, according to Ms. Jadin:

“In the past, winning and losing was based on behavior – it was, “I don’t have detention so I’m winning.” Well, but you got a 0 on your exit ticket. Now we define winning based on academics, not behavior.”

Stay tuned next month for the final installment of Hanna Jadin and her team’s blog series…And contact us today to learn more about Schoolrunner’s all-in-one data tracking & analysis tool!


Hanna Jadin, Founding Dean of Students, Milwaukee Excellence Charter School


Eve Ackil

Marketing Coordinator at Schoolrunner

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