The Secret to Taking the Pain Out of Data Collection
In my experience teachers are either not taking the data they need to take because the task is too overwhelming or they’re taking too much data and aren’t making the most of the information they have.
Here’s the secret and this is what we tell our teachers. Take data as often as you expect to see progress. What does that mean? It means that if you take data daily and you are not expecting progress that quickly, then you’re wasting your time.
Don’t get me wrong, you need to document that you have worked on goals each day. You can do that by simply making a check mark on your goal sheets that you or your staff worked on the IEP goals. This is as important as your actual data because you need to document all of the opportunities that the student had to practice the goals. This is especially valuable information for students with attendance or behavior issues. We all know that it’s difficult to show progress if a student doesn’t have opportunities to actually work on IEP goals.
Data collection should be a scheduled event. Data in a classroom with students who have moderate and severe cognitive disabilities should be taken approximately every two weeks. That way you will have three or four data points for your students for each grading period.
For example, if you have ten students in your class, you could schedule student A and student B for a “data day” on the first and third Monday of each month. On those days anyone working with those two students collects data on all IEP goals throughout the day.
Students C and D can be scheduled for a “data day” on the first and third Tuesday of the month and so on. This way not everyone is taking data on every student every day. You all will actually have time to do quality uninterrupted instruction!
I had one of my teachers just last week decide that she wanted to do data collection every Monday and Tuesday so that all staff would get use to collecting data as part of their Monday and Tuesday routines.
Data points can then be entered into the Excel program on your computer. Excel becomes a fantastic visual tool for you to monitor progress or notice a lack of progress in a timely manner. If you prepare your data sheets with each students IEP goals printed on them, when each students’ data day rolls around, the staff has the sheets ready to go and the data collection becomes systematic, efficient and less painful!
Give it a try and let me know how it goes!!