It takes someone special to teach someone special!
Being a Special Education Teacher is a rewarding, and an albeit exhausting, job. However, the rewards far outweigh the exhaustion!
As Special Education teachers, we work with the highest needs student population. These fragile students require loving and learning, and when you give this to them, they will return it threefold with the greatest rewards. Our Special Education students can make the greatest gains and be the proudest of them! We became Special Education Teachers to give our students the tools to manifest their ability over their disability. We challenge our students to achieve beyond their wildest dreams, and in turn, they will challenge us to do the same!
The Special Education Teacher wears many hats. This is honestly why I love being a Special Education Teacher! You will NEVER be bored!
However, despite all of the roles that you will play on a daily basis from hallway monitor to team member to recess duty teacher, there are a few roles that are actually in your job description.
Strive to be the standout Special Education Teacher, and you will naturally stand out, right?! Well, not really. There were 439,300 Special Education teaching positions in the United States in 2016, which translates to hundreds of teachers applying for open positions (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019). This means that you have to make yourself the standout!
Apply for open positions on Indeed, SchoolSpring, your local school districts’ sites, and your state’s Department of Education. Then, follow-up with a personalized email, selling yourself as the BEST Special Education Teacher that anyone has ever met. Visit schools in person to drop off your resume and shake hands with the principal.
Do this in the interview, and then, be prepared to answer some interview questions!
Common Special Education Teacher Interview Questions:
Tell us more about yourself.
What is your teaching philosophy?
What is your teaching experience?
Do you have any experience or certifications with specialized curriculum (i.e. Wilson Reading, Orton Gillingham, LiPS)?
What is one of your biggest strengths? Weaknesses?
What makes you the best fit for this position?
Why do you want to work for this district/school?
Why did you want to become a special education teacher?
What is your experience with the IEP process? Writing an IEP?
What is your experience with evaluating students as part of the Special Education process? What tests are you familiar with?
How do you implement inclusive practices?
What is your classroom management style?
How do you foster positive behavior in your classroom?
What has been your most difficult moment or day teaching so far?
Describe your lesson planning process.
How do you incorporate technology in your lessons? In the classroom?
Describe one of your best lessons.
Describe a lesson that you thought was going to be great, but failed. How did you handle it?
What is your experience with co-teaching? What is your opinion of co-teaching?
How do you engage students in their learning?
How would you handle a student who refuses to complete work? Follow directions?
Explain how you differentiate for your students.
How do you modify lessons to allow your students to access grade level content? Meet state standards?
How do you foster communication with parents? How do you foster positive relationships with parents?
How would you handle a parent who disagrees with you at an IEP meeting?
How would you handle a parent who calls or emails you upset about a situation?
What will you bring to the Special Education team?
How will you communicate with services (OT, PT, Speech, etc.)?
How do you monitor students’ progress?
How do you use data to drive instruction? For IEPs?
How do you work with support staff (paraprofessionals)?
How do you handle a disagreement with support staff (paraprofessionals)?
How would you de-escalate a situation? How you would de-escalate a crisis situation?
Do you have any experience with writing a Manifestation Determination or a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)?
What is the last professional development book you read or are currently reading? What conference or course have you recently taken?
Questions for a Special Education Teacher to Ask the Interviewer or Team:
What is the philosophy of the district’s Special Education department?
What is the philosophy on Special Education in the school?
What is the school culture like, and how is it fostered?
What technology does the school have?
Does the district provide any type of mentor program?
What professional development opportunities are available for teacher growth?
How does administration support the teachers?
What is the typical caseload of a Special Education Teacher?
Who is responsible for scheduling and chairing the IEP meetings?
Take your time in responding to these questions. Be positive in your answers and support each answer with a story that demonstrates this answer’s reality in your classroom!
Practice interviewing with your friends, family, and fellow teachers. Reflect upon their feedback to hone your interview skills!
And most importantly, believe in yourself! You are a great teacher who will change the lives of each of your students!
By: Miss Rae
Here’s a secret that we don’t tell our students. Ready? Lean in close… All of the BEST teachers have tools in their toolboxes that make them the best!
So now that you know the secret, don’t tell the kiddos! Let them continue to think you have eyes in the back of your head and all of those other superhuman powers you possess.
But read on to gain a few more powers to support your DiVerSe learners!
Special Education Policies and Laws
A wealth of accurate, reliable information about special education law, education law, and advocacy for children with disabilities.
This site is full of information on the different disabilities from 15 different nonprofit organizations. It offers resources and research-based practical strategies!
Special Education Lesson Plan Ideas
This is one of my favorite sites! Resources to help struggling readers build phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills. Plus +++ research on all things reading!
Find resources, research AND lesson plans! This site provides educators and students access to the highest quality practices and resources in reading and language arts instruction.
I would be the president of the Teaching Channel fan club if one existed! Launched in 2011, the Teaching Channel site is a multi-platform service delivering professional development videos for teachers, showcasing inspiring teachers, ideas, best practices and instructional resources to enhance our teaching knowledge.
Special Education Interventions and Assessments
The Lite version is a free, simple way to progress monitor student achievement in reading and math.
PBISWorld.com is a comprehensive and easy to use tier 1 through tier 3 PBIS (positive interventions and supports) tool and resource that includes data tracking on almost every behavior that exists in the classroom.
Intervention Central is a leading resource for Response to Intervention (RTI) tools and resources, including academic and behavior interventions for classroom plus progress monitoring tools.
Special Education Student Learning Tools
This webiste is an online resource of reading passages and lesson plans for students of all levels K-12. Texts include pre-made worksheets, quizzes, and other printable materials to enhance the lesson. Students can highlight, annotate, and complete assignments online. ReadWorks is free for teachers to use. Find differentiated texts for your special ed students, and some have a text to speech option!
Newsela is a data base of current events stories tailor-made for classroom use. Indexed by broad theme (e.g. War and Peace, Arts, Science, Health, Law, Money), stories are both student-friendly and can be accessed in different formats by reading level. Use Newsela to differentiate nonfiction reading.
CommonLit is a free collection of fiction and nonfiction for 3rd-12th grade classrooms, organized by lexile levels. Passages have a text to speech option PLUS comprehension checks and discussion questions!
A free website filled with courses, lessons, and practice on a variety of topics from the 1st grade level to the AP level. The site offers short lessons in the form of videos and includes supplementary practice exercises and materials for educators.
Ted Ed andTed Talks
Discover hundreds of animated lessons, create customized lessons, and share your big ideas with other educators. The site is an excellent tool for visual learners Ted Talks also offers many videos on SEL topics for middle and high schoolers!
My students were obsessed with this site! Teachers are able to make their own trivia games (AKA quizzes for students) to play in the classroom. Your students will love to learn and play at the same time. And the best part is that you can download results into a spreadsheet at the end of the game for progress monitoring!
Find engaging math games and more on problem solving, logic, number sense, and the list goes on!
This site specializes in reading, phonics & math, offering educational games, movies, books, songs, and more for children k-3/beginning readers! This is also a great tool for ESL students and families as the stories and be read aloud!
Special Education Teacher Blogs
Miss Rae’s Room
Okay, so this is a shameless plug, but…. check out my blog to improve your teaching knowledge and gain some resources and strategies for your DiVerSe learner population
Mrs. D’s Corner
Check out this blog for life skills ideas for your kiddos and a TON of resources!
Pathway 2 Success
A blog on strategies and ideas for social emotional learning.
Special Education Teacher Professional Development Courses
The Learning Tree Professional Development Network, LLC
An online professional development network created by teachers, for teachers. TLTPDN offers provide high quality, responsive courses for educators!
Do you have a favorite website? Share below so we can empower our teaching community!
By Miss Rae
Dear Miss Rae,
Help! How do I write IEP goals for a student using Wilson Reading?
I see students in a one-to-one and small group setting for reading. I use the Wilson Reading System with all of my students, but I struggle to write IEP goals because I ONLY use this program with them. How do I write IEP goals for a student using Wilson Reading?
Goal-Less Wilson Reading Teacher
Students with specific learning disabilities in reading need specialized instruction.
Wilson Reading, Orton Gillingham, Spire, Project Read, and others are examples of specialized instruction. Such programs work for students with learning disabilities in reading because they provide direct and explicit structured, sequential multisensory teaching of the basic elements of language for improved decoding and encoding!
All levels of language, including sounds (phonemes), symbols (graphemes), meaningful word parts (morphemes), word and phrase meanings (semantics), sentences (syntax), longer passages (discourse), and the social uses of language (pragmatics) are taught in conjunction with each other. This can make it difficult to write a targeted IEP goal.
Here are some IEP goals and objectives to choose from:
Given specialized instruction using a multisensory systematic phonics-based program, XXX will increase his/her reading levels for comprehension, decoding,and fluency to an end of first grade reading level by the end of the IEP period.
Given a multisensory language based explicit instruction in developmental skills which lead to decoding and word recognition, XXX will increase his/her reading skills for comprehension, decoding, encoding, phonics, word recognition and vocabulary development, to at least one grade level above his/her current instructional text level (XXX) with at least 97% accuracy as measured by running records, anecdotal notes, and assessments by the end of the IEP period.
Given direct instruction using a systematic and scientifically based reading instruction program, XXX will demonstrate accurate knowledge of reading skills showing one year's growth (Fountas & Pinnell Level XXX) with 95% accuracy.
Given direct instruction using a systematic and scientifically based reading instruction program, XXX will increase his/her reading levels for comprehension, decoding, encoding, and fluency from his/her current level of being able to use 1 syllable type (closed) to being able to use all 6 syllable types as measured by the end of the IEP period.
Decoding: Given 15 words in isolation at his/her instructional level, XXX will correctly and independently decode 80 percent of the words accurately.
Decoding: Given 15 non-contextualized CVC, CCVC, CVCC, and/or CVCe words at XXX's instructional level, XXX will correctly decode 80 percent based on teacher notes and charting.
Decoding: Given 15 words in isolation at his/her instructional level including words containing all 6 syllable types and learned prefixes and suffixes, XXX will independently and accurately decode 85 percent of the words.
Fluency: Given text and passages using controlled text at his/her independent reading level, XXX will be able to read 3-4 words together at a rate of 90 wpm based on charts, running records and teacher notes.
Fluency: When given text or reading passage at his/her independent reading level, XXX will use knowledge of decoding skills and word recognition to increase his/her fluency reading orally with appropriate rate, and expression at 90 words per minute with 90% accuracy.
Encoding (Spelling): Given dictation for spelling and grammar, XXX will correctly spell 75 percent of the words at his/her current instructional level based on student samples and teacher record.
Comprehension: Given sentences, paragraphs and reading passages at his/her instructional reading level (controlled-text), XXX will be able to independently use visualization and retell the facts/events with 90 percent accuracy based on teacher notes and benchmark assessments.
Comprehension: XXX will use learned reading strategies of summarizing, questioning, inferencing, making connections and predicting to answer right there and higher order thinking questions from text at his/her instructional level in 4 out of 5 opportunities with up to 2 cues.
Vocabulary: XXX will utilize decoding and context clue strategies to understand unfamiliar words when reading (orally and/or silently) content area texts with decreasing adult assistance in 4 out of 5 observations with 80 percent accuracy.
By: Miss Rae
Check out my other related reading blogs...
Check out my ELA Curriculum on TPT...
Learn more by taking a course with me...
And grab this FREEBIE!
700,000 English-Language Learners are identified with a learning disability, representing 14.7 percent of the total ELL population enrolled in U.S. public elementary and secondary schools in 2015. This needs to be addressed!
How do you know if an English language learner has a learning disability?
I don't know about you, but this is the big question across my state.
FIRST - let's take a moment to have some real talk - ALL English language learners need to be given time - time to learn the language.
Understanding the typical trajectory of second language acquisition is important for so many reasons. An understanding of learning the language is important so that we do not mis-identify our EL population as learning disabled.
But IF an ELL student’s progress is not typical, then, it's our responsibility to test.
We always start with dominance testing to establish a student’s dominant language for evaluations. Dominance testing establishes a student's level of proficiency in both languages (native and English).
This is because we should ALWAYS test in a student's dominant language.
Unlike their native English speaking peers, English Language students have to process the language of tests. They are also expected to comprehend cultural expectations embedded within standardized assessments.
What does this mean for educators?
Well, it means that for ELs, every evaluation, not given in their dominant language, becomes a test, to some degree, of language proficiency, rather than an evaluation of intellectual capacity and/or academic ability.
Hence why we test in a student’s dominant language.
If an EL student tested in their native language (because this was determined to be his/her dominant language) has a learning disability as indicated by the discrepancy model of standardized score comparisons, then, the student has a learning disability.
A learning disability in the native language is a learning disability.
But what happens when a student’s dominant language is English? How do we know this is a learning disability and not just the typical path of a second language learner?
Well, we use our knowledge of the typical trajectory of second language acquisition during the evaluatory stage too!
By using a simple retelling (or comprehension conversation after reading), an educator can compare this outcome (results of the comprehension conversation) with a student's expected second language acquisition trajectory. If these two match, then, this is typically indicative that the student is where he or she should be in terms of literacy.
On the other hand, if these two do not correspond, a learning disability should be considered.
The WIDA Consortium is an educational consortium, of which 37 U.S. states participate in it. WIDA has created several screening assessments used by school systems to determine students’ English language skills and for placement of students within schools’ ELL programs.
One such assessment is called the ACCESS test. This assessment is employed annually to evaluate a student’s progress with learning English as a second language. Students receive composite scores in Oral Language, Literacy, Comprehension, and an Overall score along with four domain scores in Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.
These scores determine placement and drive instruction for the next school year.
Here is how students may be placed based upon ACCESS scores:
WIDA Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3, (ACCESS 2.0 Overall Scores 1.0-2.4) - At least two to three periods (a period is not less than 45 minutes) per day of direct ESL instruction delivered by a licensed ESL teacher
WIDA Level 3, Level 4, Level 5 & Level 6 (ACCESS 2.0 Overall Scores 2.5 and higher) - At least one period (a period is not less than 45 minutes) per day of direct ESL instruction delivered by a licensed ESL teacher
Most research suggests that oral proficiency takes 3 to 5 years to develop, and academic English proficiency can take 4 to 7 years. Therefore, many of our students receive ELL services while they are in school aged. So they need time, and we need to understand the trajectory of learning a second language.
This trajectory along with ACCESS scores help us to determine if there is a learning disability. Ofcourse all students would benefit from additional time with a teacher, we should not mislabel or over-identify our students. This is why we use these resources.
Developing a first language is automatic. Typically, children do not require explicit instruction to develop a first language. This is also true for bilingual or multilingual children who learn more than one language from birth.
On the other hand, explicit teaching of a second language is required if a student is sequential bilingual, which is the definition for a student becoming bilingual by first learning one language and then another. In essence, this is considered to be a process called language learning.
Unfortunately, explicit teaching of grammatical rules does not necessarily mean that a second language learner, or sequential bilingual student, will be able to speak and write with ease. Time, practice and real social experiences are needed to support the language learning process.
However, listening and speaking should be simultaneous, relatively speaking, when learning a second language. This is because students are listening to the words, learning new vocabulary, and should be practicing it by speaking it.
In this ﬁrst stage of second language acquisition, the silent or receptive phase, second language learners dedicate time to learning vocabulary of the new language. They may also practice saying new terms.
A second language learner does not produce their new language with functional ﬂuency or comprehension (so they are not necessarily "silent" despite the name), but they are attempting speech of their new language.
Early production is the second phase, and this is where students begin to build a vocabulary. Students may begin to use some terms and/or short phrases of early word combinations in their speech. This process continues through the acquisition trajectory and eventually, includes writing as well.
Therefore, two scores -speaking and listening- should be relatively consistent on the ACCESS test. (Keep in mind, we are not talking about academic language. We are talking about social language. Academic language skills develop later.)
However, if there is a large discrepancy between listening and speaking, there is a possibility that the child may have an expressive or receptive problem. The norm is that listening is higher that speaking - otherwise we can suspect a receptive language issues if speaking is higher than listening. If there is a language disorder in the first language, there will be a language disorder in the second language.
There are of course exceptions to the rule, but essentially, high listening, low speaking with a very large discrepancy is cause for concern.
We all have strengths and weaknesses within our profile. There is a typical trajectory for learning English as a second language, but there are also other factors… home life, organizational issues, attentional obstacles… these factors impact typical trajectory. But they do not indicate a learning disability.
Research has suggested that the following questions should be used to determine if an ELL student’s academic struggles are the result of a learning disability or second language learning:
* Is the student receiving sufficient instruction to enable him/her to make effective academic progress?
*How does the student’s progress in listening, speaking, reading, and writing English
as a second language compare to the expected rate of progress for his or her age
and initial level of English proficiency? (Think! expected/typical second language learning trajectory)
* To what extent are behaviors that might otherwise indicate a learning disability
considered to be normal for the child’s cultural background or to be part of the
process of U.S. acculturation?
* How might additional factors—including socioeconomic status, previous educa-
tion experience, fluency in his or her first language, attitude toward school, atti-
tude toward learning English, and personality attributes—impact the student’s academic progress?
My advice - take all factors into consideration and assess, using culturally responsive assessments that assist in fully determining a student’s needs, when determining an English Language student’s eligibility for Special Education.
Our students’ futures are our responsibility.
By Miss Rae
Reference: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2018). The Condition of Education 2018 (2018-144), English Language Learners in Public Schools.
Executive Functioning (EF) skills are a bigger indicator of school readiness and predictor of academic success than IQ.
EF skills are an umbrella term for the cognitive processes of planning, working memory, attention, problem solving, mental flexibility, verbal reasoning, mental flexibility, and emotional self regulation. These skills impact time management, organization, initiation of tasks, multi-tasking and planning ability, and making connections between past experiences and current actions.
Essentially, they help students set a stage for and engage in learning!
EF skills are required for learning!
What are the signs that EF skills are impacting a student?
-forgetting multi-steps for solving problems
-forgetting multi-step directions
-daydreaming in class
-being easily distracted
-trouble starting tasks independently
-difficulties with organization
-losing things frequently
-time management difficulties
-being unable to finish assignments on time
-struggling with transitions
-forgetting names, directions, homework assignments
So what can we do for our students who need a little EF support? Well, we can start with some classroom accommodations!
Executive Functioning Accommodations:
*Visuals! (i.e. picture schedules)
*Alert to transitions
*Step-by-step instructions in simple language supported with visuals
*Color code steps in directions
*Timers! (i.e. iPads, sand timers, laptops)
*Cue student prior to being called upon
*Provide an outline of notes for lectures
*Use a highlighted strip of paper for reading
*Sign-off on student agenda daily
*Provide checklists for completion of tasks, including editing checklists
*Preferential seating (i.e. away from distractions, near good models, close proximity to a teacher)
And for your students who have EF disorders, we can support them with IEP goals!
Here are some sample Executive Functioning IEP goals and objectives:
Given direct instruction, XXX will develop the ability to attend to individual tasks and will improve his/her executive functioning skills through the use of learned strategies for attention and organization in 3 out of 5 observable opportunities by the end of the IEP period.
1. Given support and visual cues, XXX will create a system for organizing personal items in his/her locker/desk/notebook/homework agenda in 3 out of 5 observable opportunities.
2. Given direct instruction and visual supports, XXX will be able to independently and successfully navigate a structured routine within the general education classroom in 3 out of 5 observable opportunities.
3. After explicit and direct instruction, XXX will develop a self regulatory plan for carrying out multi-step tasks (i.e. completing homework, writing an essay, doing a project) and given practice, visual cues and fading adult supports, will apply the plan independently to new situations in 3 out of 5 observable opportunities.
4. Given direct instruction and visual supports, XXX will attend to independent, small group, and whole class instruction and activities with no more than 2 verbal prompts in 3 out of 5 observable opportunities.
Given direct instruction through a cognitive enhancement program, XXX will independently apply learned strategies to improve executive functioning skills in 3 out of 5 observable opportunities by the end of the IEP period.
1. Given support and visual cues, XXX will select and create a system for organizing assignments and school work in 3 out of 5 observable opportunities.
2. Given support and fading adult support, XXX will use a checklist and/or visual schedule to independently complete tasks in 3 out of 5 observable opportunities.
3. Given a task or activity, XXX will indicate and gather what items are needed to complete the task in 3 out of 5 observable opportunities.
4. Given a task or activity, XXX will create a plan to complete the task in 3 out of 5 observable opportunities.
Given direct instruction, XXX will develop the ability to attend to individual tasks and will improve his/her executive functioning skills through the use of learned strategies for attention and organization in 3 out of 5 observable opportunities by the end of the IEP period.
1. XXX will arrive at class with required materials for daily assignments (i.e. paper, pen, pencil, notebook, textbook, chromebook) in 3 out of 5 observable opportunities.
2. XXX will arrive to class on time in 3 out of 5 observable opportunities.
3. XXX will identify and follow rules in lunchroom, bathroom, halls, and/or bus in 3 out of 5 observable opportunities.
4. XXX will identify and follow rules as specified in each class in 3 out of 5 observable opportunities.
Given direct instruction and fading adult support, XXX will remain on task and work independently on classroom tasks in 3 out of 5 observable opportunities by the end of the IEP period.
1. Given direct instruction and fading adult support, XXX will independently begin an assigned task from a prearranged schedule with fading adult support in 3 out of 5 observable opportunities.
2. Given fading adult support, a divider or cubby for distractions, and/or preferential seating, XXX will ignore distractions in environment by continuing to focus on own work in 3 out of 5 observable opportunities.
3. Given fading adult support, a divider or cubby for distractions, and/or preferential seating, XXX will work steadily on task for length of time required by the teacher when given an assignment or activity in 3 out of 5 observable opportunities.
4. Given direct instruction and fading adult support, XXX will attempt to independently resolve problems with an assignment before asking for help in 3 out of 5 observable opportunities.
By Miss Rae
Some of our students are reading over two years below grade level! This is not only shocking, but can also seem like a daunting task!
So how do we ever get these students to grade level?
We have to create comprehensive guided reading lesson plans.
First, assess your students. Determine their lagging skills.
Students usually fall into two categories for what is holding them back in reading.
The first group are those that struggle with decoding (sounding words out). The second are the students who are unable to summarize, retell, or answer questions about a text. This is the comprehension group.
If your students are struggling with decoding, use a phonics skill lesson plan for short targeted practice. If your students are struggling with comprehension, use a comprehension skill and strategy lesson alongside your guided reading lesson. If students are lagging in both areas, use a daily or weekly integrated plan to target both areas simultaneously.
Students who are typically reading significantly below grade level require an integrated approach to reading, targeting both areas: phonics and comprehension.
Comprehensive guided reading lesson plans should incorporate:
-extensive teacher-student interaction,
-multisensory learning methods,
-all components of reading: decoding (single word accuracy/automaticity), comprehension, vocabulary, sight word, fluency, plus + encoding,
-special emphasis upon mastery of foundational reading skills and...
-independent application of comprehension strategies to help ALL students access the general education curriculum!
Check out some Comprehensive guided reading lesson plans!
Related Blog Posts...
There’s at least one student each year who reverses his/her b’s and d’s or just writes uppercase B’s and D’s (well, because that was an easier strategy to learn).
Should teachers be concerned?
Are reversals a sign of dyslexia?
Reversing letters is common until around age 7.
Here are some tricks to reverse reversals…
1. Have students fist pump themselves with their palms facing towards them. Stick their thumbs up and you have a b/d (this is a great indiscreet trick for older students too)
2. Draw a bed with the letters b and d - bd - draw a stick finger person laying down whose head lays down on the b
3. Draw a bat and ball to create a b and a drum with a drum stick for a d
4. Make an uppercase B and then, erase it's top b
5. Practice visual tracking with activities like the one in the image
Practice, practice, practice! But if there is no progress after all of that practice, then, a teacher should be concerned.
If dyslexia is the reason for the letter reversals, teachers may also note that students struggle with letter and number sequencing.
And a word of caution... there is no evidence to suggest letter reversals are more common among dyslexic children, compared to same-aged peers learning how to read and write; however, it is more so that most children grow out of letter reversals, whereas students with dyslexia may be slower to. AND don't forget to rule out a visual processing disorder.
By Miss Rae
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.