Thinking about IEP goals data collection? Cuz that's fun! There are many options out there from digital data collection for special education to academic data collection for resource rooms to toileting! And then how to track these IEP goals?
Obviously, I can't cover all the answers to IEP measuring and reporting progress, but I'll try to hit a few point that I have found useful over the years.
What makes a strong IEP goal?
Good data collection STARTS with a strong IEP goal. I mean, figuring out how you're going to collect data on a goal that reads “Will improve receptive language to 80%” (I actually saw that, once!) is going to be really hard, but figuring out how to collect data on “will point to a pictures of one of 5 different animals from an array of 3 pictures” is much easier to design data collection sheets for!
Using the S.M.A.R.T method to insure your goals are rock solid awesomeness which will make your data collection So. Much. Easier. Make them SPECIFIC, MEASUREABLE, ATTAINABLE, RELEVANT, and TIME-BASED.
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How do you collect data for IEP goals?
So here we go. There are a couple of variables when designing your data collection piece. Here are a few things to consider:
How detailed does the data collection need to be?
If, however, I'm taking data on the occurrences of two challenging behaviors with different typographies that typically happen during group instruction and are a requirement of an official FBA that will be analyzed by the IEP team and parents on a monthly basis, my data collection procedure is going to be much more detailed and “clean.”
Who will be collecting the data?
This is important for a couple of reasons. First, does the person know HOW to collect the data you have in mind? Do you need to simplify it or be very descriptive about what is considered a correct response? Is it going to be you or a para, is it going to be another teacher, especially a GenEd teacher with 25 other students?
How do you decide what to include?
Some of my favorite finds for data collection!
This clipboard has a compartment to keep additional papers. Great if you keep losing stuff!
I love these whiteboard clipboards. I use them as an impromptu visual or token board for the student I'm working with.
These small clipboards are great for portable data taking. I also use them to create student activities like spell-your-name-with-Scrabble-tiles!
The most durable and reliable clicker to count behaviors.
And these mini count clickers are amazing! Tiny and portable!
How often will the data be able to be collected?
When designing data collection, I think about how often I will be able to collect it and how often I will be analyzing it. If you're a resource teacher with groups of 6-8 at a time all day long, you won't likely be able to collect detailed data on each IEP goal each time the student comes in. So you might design a system where you take 1-2 students' data each day of the week, allowing raw data to be collected for each student once a week. Maybe you have a life skill's class with 8 student who stay with you all day (and you have para support! woot!). You may be able to design a system where daily data collection is possible (and valued!).
Whatever the case might be, the key is to make sure you are collecting the information you need as often as you can so you can make data-based decisions. You want a system that allows you to help the student move on if they're ready or change it up if they need a pivot.
How often should IEP data be collected?
If you ask me about IEP goals data collection and when to do it—daily! But I know that not all teachers or even clinicians have that luxury. So here are some guiding questions to ask:
Do I have a legal obligation to report on my data at a certain time?
Is the student making rapid OR slow progress? Do I need to make frequent changes to keep up?
Is there a new concern that I need to gather preliminary data on? When are we going to look at those results?
Do I have personnel to collect the data when I think it needs to be?
Do I need to train staff to collect it so that it's done with fidelity?
Do I have the skill set to collect the data in such a way that the results are meaningful? Do I need to reach out for more support?
Keep those questions in mind as you set up your system. For me, I default to daily data when possible (at least weekly), looking at the raw data weekly, giving new interventions a good 4-6 weeks to measure success, and reporting to parents and/or governing bodies every 3-6 months. An annual BIG data check (e.g., an assessment) is preferred, too!