The most important component of special education - next to the students - is the data!
Data is a special educator's lifeline.
We employ data for eligibility determinations. We use it to monitor progress toward a student's IEP goals. We use it to set goals for students, determine extended year programming, report at meetings, and qualify our statements in meetings and on special education documents. We need the data to justify the TEAM's decision about a student's plan.
We know the importance of data.
The hard part is tracking it!
Here's how I do it?
I review at my students’ IEP goals and objectives. During this process, I pair each objective with an assessment. For example, if a student has a sight word reading goal using the Fry Word List, I pull out the Fry Word List.
When I’m finished pairing assessments, I set a schedule for each probe. I typically begin the year with a full battery of assessments to obtain a baseline for a student’s goals and objectives. Some objectives are then tested weekly. For example, I will complete a weekly running record on a student’s reading. Other objectives I may assess monthly. This may be a student’s writing objective regarding a narrative piece of writing. As a result, I will plan to have a completed narrative writing piece once per month. I put this schedule into my Google Calendar and check this step off of my To Do List!
I organize my students’ goals and objectives along with the assessments I have chosen for each on tracking forms. All forms contain a student’s name, goal(s), and objectives. The forms, then, vary by the assessment schedule. For example, some goals and/or objectives may need a spot for weekly tracking while others may need a monthly.
When a student is assessed, I record the score (AKA the data) directly onto the form along with the date. This keeps my data all on one form that I can pull out on the spot when it is needed.
So, if a parent states “Ben says he completes all of his work, but you lose it,” you can pull out your trusty form with evidence that Ben has completed 30 percent of his assignments in the last month.
Or when it’s time to write Special Education progress reports, you don’t have to dread it. The data is at your fingertips.
The tool I use for this is my IEP Data Collection Progress Monitoring Forms and Cards for this.
You can grab my IEP Data Collection Progress Monitoring Forms and Cards from Miss Rae’s Room Teachers Pay Teachers Store HERE!
If you need to track behavioral data, check out my BEHAVIOR Data Tracking Forms & Points Sheets!
I break out the three-hole punch and get wild! I keep all of my tracking forms in a binder (because I grew up in the 80s, okay?!).
When my caseload is on the small side, it makes my life easier to organize my binder sections by student. In this way, when I need my data for a particular student, I can quickly find it, and I don’t have to flip from section to section when I am writing reports.
However, as caseloads sometimes grow over the years, it has become more efficient to have the sections organized by assessments. So when my Google Calendar alerts me that I need to test math fact fluency, I can quickly flip to the section containing the sight word assessments and tracking forms for that probe.
I also keep reference sheets in my binder for easy access. For example, I always keep a reference page that correlates reading levels from Fountas and Pinnell to Reading A-Z to lexile levels.
Some data needs to be tracked more frequently. For example, lagging skills in executive functioning, behavior, attention, and social emotional capacities often needs to be tracked within a 30 minute time period or during one subject area.
The binder can become too cumbersome when to employ for frequent data tracking. Often times, I clip my forms to clipboards for easy access. The forms I use can be copied onto cardstock and cut smaller to be placed on a key rings for easy access as well.
If I have access to an iPad or tablet, I use Google Forms. You can make a simple form that enables you to just hit a button each time the data needs to be recorded. Google Forms will save the data, and when needed, Google Forms will compile the data into one spreadsheet for analysis when it’s needed.
And there you have it!
Your data is tracked! Now, you can continue on with just being a teaching rockstar! ;)
~By Miss Rae
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So you finished testing a student. Now what?
Most testing programs have taken some of the workload off of your shoulders! The majority of achievement tests have moved to web-based scoring. Testers are able to plug in raw scores, click a button or two, and get furnished with standard scores and various reports able to do some of the analysis for you.
Writing testing reports can feel overwhelming. The information shared within a testing report is conveyed to families and educators working with the student. The data should be utilized during the educational planning process.
Every testing report should begin by stating the reason for testing. Has the student been referred for testing due to a recent diagnosis? Has the student been struggling in the area of reading? Is the referral the result of a student/teacher assistance team meeting? Is the testing the result of a three-year re-evaluation per a student’s IEP?
Next, the tests administered should be listed.
A student’s background information should be summarized as well. What information is relevant for this evaluation? Did a student repeat a grade? Has the student had extended absences from school? Is the student a second-language learner?
Evaluations should include an observation of the student. A student should be observed for about a fifteen minute time period. Observations should be performed during the content that is the area of the disability.
Evaluators should also observe student behavior during testing. For example, did the student appear anxious during reading subtests? Did the student use strategy for solving difficult problems, or did s/he not employ any strategies for solutions? Did the student wear glasses?
Next, provide a brief blurb that summarizes the standardized academic achievement test used to measure previously learned skills. For example, common tests are the WIAT-III, Woodcock Johnson IV Tests of Achievement, KTEA-3, etc.
After the blurb, testers should include the standard score range along with the test’s classification. For example…
The next step is to look at each academic cluster that was tested. The tester should summarize the facilitation and purpose of each subtest. For example, the student was given two minutes to solve single-digit multiplication problems to measure fluency of basic math facts.
After an evaluator summarizes a student’s performance on each subtest in a skill area, strengths and weaknesses within the cluster should be discussed.
Begin with areas of strength in a student’s cluster area profile. Analyze all subtests in the skill area in order to identify strengths. Cite specific examples within the report as well to support the claims.
Next, address a student’s areas of need, and use this terminology. Lagging skills should not be termed weaknesses for the word’s connotations. Again, cite specific examples to support analysis claims.
Include each cluster area evaluated in the same manner.
Then, an evaluator should include additional academic testing areas. Report about these in the same manner as well, addressing areas of strength and need.
Curriculum-based measures and progress monitoring results should be reported next.
Academic evaluation reports should conclude with a summary and recommendations based upon the summary. An evaluator will want to summarize the results…
STUDENT has learned a strategy of using context clues in order to make meaning within a text. This was seen in the Quick Phonics Screener as well as the Reading Comprehension subtest on the WIAT-III. He has a good grasp on short vowels and consonant letter sounds and is able to apply these skills when decoding. Noted areas of need for STUDENT were long vowel words, R-controlled vowels, and consonant digraphs (i.e. wr, sl). This was seen both in the Quick Phonics Screener, WIAT-III reading subtests, as well as the Ekwall Shanker Phonics subtest. STUDENT scored in the below average range on each reading subtest in the WIAT-III. This appears to be the result of a weakness in phonological awareness. These findings were further supported by the subtests of the CTOPP. STUDENT exhibited an area of need when asked to omit a part of a given word. This shows a weakness in an awareness of and access of oral language, which is represented in written language. A deficit in phonological awareness would indicate a reading disability.
Recommendations should be listed based upon the results of the testing (i.e. the summary!). Eligibility and additional recommendations will be discussed at the student’s upcoming Team meeting when all evaluation results are reviewed. A similar statement should be included on the report.
1. Continue to teach STUDENT decoding skills/strategies in order to increase his independent application of these learned skills.
2. STUDENT should receive direct instruction in decoding long vowel words as well as words including consonant digraphs. This should be taught first in isolation, and then, STUDENT should be given the chance to apply learned skills in the context of text at his instructional level.
3. STUDENT should be explicitly taught how to establish sound/symbol relationships of all phonemes in order to improve his phonological awareness skills.
4. Additional recommendations will be made at team meeting.
Testing reports should contain a statement on validity of testing. For example, an evaluator may state, “It is felt that the results of the testing are an accurate measure of current level of academic achievement” if the evaluator believes this test to be a valid measure of performance.
And finally, give yourself some credit! Put your name, qualification(s), and job title on the report along with the date. Evaluation reports should include a tester’s signature.
Oh, and you can breathe now! :)
Testing templates can be very useful as well, and they definitely help.
Use my WIAT-III Template and a YCAT Template from my TPT store!
~ By Miss Rae
Being a Special Educator is similar to choreographing a three-ring circus! The art of juggling should be a required course in Special Education educator prep programs.
From IEP writing to teaching to presenting at IEP meetings to many, many more important tasks, Special Educators must be skilled at varying and many areas of expertise; however, one aspect can be the most difficult to manage: PROGRESS MONITORING
The data is one of the single most paramount competencies of the field of Special Education; thus, data collection is one of the most critical skills a Special Education teacher can possess.
Without evidence, we just have beliefs, and beliefs do not hold up in court (remember IEPs are legal documents).
Data collection, on the other hand, can be annoying and cumbersome. Who wants to interrupt teaching to assess? And don’t we assess these poor kids enough?
As a result, then, assessment should be seamlessly integrated into teaching (and/or daily routines); but how do you do this when your “small groups” have varying IEP goals and objectives?
However, even if I have 10 students with 3 working on comprehension, 3 working on phonics, 2 working on vocabulary, and 2 working on fluency, they are at least all working on the subject area of reading.
So no problem!
There are five facets of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, and word study, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.
As a result, all of the students in your reading groups will have IEP goals that fall within one of the subcategories of reading.
The first step, then, is to identify one assessment tool that can evaluate ALL students in ALL areas of reading.
The solution to all of these issues is employing what I call Reading Rubrics!
You can check them out HERE!
Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, and Word Study
Reading Rubrics expand on the tool of a running record.
As students are reading aloud, collect data on the section they read.
Write down the student’s errors AND mark the section the student read. But, first, record the text level of the passage being read aloud.
This will not interrupt the flow of the lesson or the teaching AND it can be done for each student in the reading group without pause.
Later, convert the number of words a student read correctly into a percentage for word reading accuracy. For example, if you wrote down 10 words that were read incorrectly and 30 words were read in total, subtract the total number of words read incorrectly (errors) from the number of running words in the text. So, 30 - 10 = 20. Then, divide the answer (words read correctly) by the total number of running words or words read. So, 20 divided by 30 equals 67 percent.
Word accuracy can help determine a student’s reading level:
Easy Text: 96-100% accuracy
Instructional Text: 90-95% accuracy
Hard Text: below 90% accuracy
Running records, not only provide educators with word reading accuracy, they are also a tool for identifying error patterns. Therefore, take time to analyze the errors a student made when reading words. For example, did a student read the words with /ed/ endings incorrectly?
Analyze a student’s reading thoughts on what sources s/he is utilizing for word reading accuracy.
Is the reader using meaning cues, structural cues, or visual cues?
While a student is reading, use a timer to gain a fluency score for a student. How many words does the student read accurately in one minute?
The Hasbrouck-Tindal oral reading fluency chart is a good tool for grade level fluency standards. The chart correlates oral reading fluency rates of students in grades 1 through 8, as determined by data collected by Jan Hasbrouck and Gerald Tindal to grade level expectations.
Vocabulary and Comprehension
When a student has finished reading a text aloud, quickly assess his/her oral reading comprehension.
Tell me about what you read. What was the setting? Who are the characters? What does this word mean in the text? What is the problem? Why was this a problem for the character? Did the characters try to solve the problem? How?
Note the level of prompting that the teacher provided.
Record the students level of comprehension on both literal and inferential questions.
The answers will enable the teacher to subjectively assess a student’s general understanding of the text.
Here's a quick video on how I use RUNNING RECORDS with my students!
While all of this data will not provide enough for evaluation purposes, Reading Rubrics will act as instructional tools AND data collection tools for progress reporting toward IEP goals!
~ By Miss Rae
Hi! I'm Miss Rae! I'm a Special Education Coordinator with a passion for creating research-based resources for DiVeRSe learners and helping teachers make their lives easier! #teacherrealtalk #missraesroom