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!
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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What are some other ways to track data?
The bell rings, and in walk the students.
Chris and Jordy are already arguing, completely ignoring your instructions.
"I didn't do my homework. Did my mom email you? She said she doesn't like the homework and I don't have to do it," Sam asserts upon entrance.
Kiana is tugging on your sleeve, "Miss, I need to talk to you NOW!" She gives you the eyes!
"Phone is ringing," Eric yells as he walks into the room.
A chair crashes to the floor from an angry Kim who has slammed her fists onto the desk, and then, walks out before class has begun.
You get to the phone just in time for it to stop ringing.
So you try...
“Boys and girls?”
“Okay, let’s focus.”
This phrase drives me crazy! First, you are the adult. You shouldn’t have to wait! Second, what kid doesn’t want you to wait while they finish having fun?
This is a terrible strategy!
The scenario above is going to happen! We all these moments, days, and days of these moments! And it's okay to have one of these "days", but they do not need to be the definition of your classroom!
Classroom routines and procedures should be established and practiced at the beginning of the school year! Expectations around procedures should also be established at the beginning of the school year AND reviewed periodically throughout the year!
As long as we are consistent, our classrooms should be well oiled machines, right?!
While I do like to think of myself as the QUEEN of my classroom, I just honestly don’t have that kind of power.
Things are going to happen that are beyond our control. That’s teaching!
But we can’t just WAIT to get students’ attention! I’m sure they would love for us to wait!
Once we have things back under control, we have to regain our students’ focus immediately.
So, how do we do that? Here are some tips and tricks that I use!
#1 Ding, Dong!
My doorbell has to be my Number One because it is foolproof!
It is my best trick for gaining my students’ attention, AND it is also engaging, versatile, and CHEAP! (What more can a teacher ask for?!)
I purchased the doorbell online! I keep the buzzer in my pocket or just lying on my desk, and I press it when I want the kids' attention.
It totally works!
I also had some fun with it when I first got it! Much like a game of ‘Where’s Waldo?’, my students searched for weeks to answer “Where is that noise coming from?!” A few of them found the doorbell’s hiding spot (a plug behind a bookcase), but they continued to let the other students’ play detective!
My doorbell also doubles as a signal to transition! For example, when we are rotating through editing stations or centers, I use press my buzzer. The first time the doorbell rings, I alert them to an upcoming transition: “One more minute.” The second time the students hear it, they move to their next location.