Disclaimer: This still takes quite a bit of work on my end, but the value of it is worth it I think.
I teach ALL of high school math this year. Thankfully I moved to a district that already has the Essential Learning Outcomes picked out for each subject. With our lovely teacher evaluation now being tied to student progress on their ELO's, teachers are having to come up with a way to track that data and show that progress. Here is how my data tracking works (in steps):
Step 1: Pre-test.
Yes, I said it. Pre-test. Even if you think your students don't know anything, pre-test them anyways. A lot of value comes from pre-testing. So take the time to do it. I use a post-test from the chapter I'm teaching and use it as my pre-tests.
Once you have pre-tested, you need to pick out the major topics/standards that are taught in that chapter. There are usually 4-6. Grade your pre-test based on these standards. There are going to be several scores on a pre-test and that's exactly what you want. Here is a pre-test I gave in Geometry with the overall score on top and all of the sub-scores also included.
As you can see, there are several scores on there. Yeah, this student did really bad on the pre-test (they're supposed to most of the time--it's a pre-test). However, I can see that she knows some stuff about the main topics we're going to talk about in this chapter, and that's very valuable.
Step 2: Chart it.
Students keep a binder in my class with all kinds of things in it. The main thing I care about it their data tracking section. They have a section in their binder that is strictly for THEIR. OWN. DATA. I don't have giant binders of a thousand papers that I have to sift through. I can go to theirs and look up what I need. It's so nice! After we pre-test, I give them these charts and have them fill it out with me. I use the main topics' scores and their overall score and show them how to chart it. It's just a bar graph that shows their score on that topic. These bars are color coded:
0-50 is red
51-75 is yellow
76-100 is green
After they chart it, they put the date on the top of the bar.
I also do this for each class and use their class averages on each subtopic and keep a binder of it.
Step 3: Repeat.
Repeat this as many times as you need to. I typically have 3 or 4 bars per topic. The first is the pre-test, the second (sometimes third) is a formative assessment, and the last is the post-test for the chapter. This is such a HUGE confidence booster for students because they can literally see their learning take place. Here is a formative assessment on the first two topics.
That's about all there is to it. This is by far the best way I've done this and the most effective. It takes maybe 10 minutes after the students are used to doing it.