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How I Saved Hours Collecting Data in My Special Education Classroom

Welcome friends! We are getting ready for the beginning of the school year and I want to help you make it a stressed free year that you can look back at and cherish, instead of being so stressed out tracking so many goals for so many students. I am going to keep this short, so take notes. Or copy and paste. Whatever is cool these days.

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1. This is a pre-tip, but make sure your goals have a clear way to track data that is simple. Sometimes I read a goal and I have no idea what or how I am supposed to be tracking.

Not a good example:

When Ben goes outside to play he will ask a peer to play with 2 verbal prompts from a staff member and will play the chosen activity for 5 minutes.

The problem with this goal is that if this is a new student for me, it isn't clear what the communication goal is or what he uses to communicate to others. Plus there are two goals, he asks a peer to play AND they play for 5 minutes. What if he does one and not the other?

A good example:

By April 2024, when Ben is at recess he will ask a peer to play an activity with his Picture Exchange Communication System with up to 2 verbal prompts of a staff member with 80% accuracy 4 out of 5 times.

This goal gives you the location to track the data, recess. Gives you the level of prompting and the communication for Ben. And an accuracy goal. If you have a clipboard or iPad or whatever to track data throughout the day, here is the way to do it. Your goal tracking can look as simple as this. If you have another goal asking about the duration of them playing, BAM- 2 in 1. Or if you want a baseline for a new goal.

2. I loved having EVERYONE track data on worksheets.

Yes I know this doesn't work for every goal, but for every academic goal, this was it. If we were tracking duration, how many times a student got up or needed to be redirected, or the level of prompting. I also wouldn't put the data tracked on the paper until the child is done with the task.

The staff member working with the child can either remember the data they are tracking and write it on their worksheet once the task is done OR have a post it note out of sight from the child if they need to tally something (or better yet a clicker like this.)

3. Have your students involved!

If your student understands the goal and is apart of the IEP process, having them help track is a great way of accountability and saves your time stressing about data tracking. If their goal is to write 5 sentences, have them count the sentences once they are done. Make the data sheet fun with stickers or stars or whatever is age-appropriate.

If their goal is to stay seated for a minute in their chair, have them start the timer for a minute. Get creative!

4. Have a code for tracking on worksheets

Here was the code I used at every school site I worked at

Keep it simple.

5. Have a designated time weekly to collect all the data and put it in a master file.

This was usually on a Friday. It would either be the one day a week I stayed a little late or I would do it during free choice or a movie or computer time whatever. It took me about 30 minutes to quickly transfer about 8 student's goals to my master file.

Was any of these tips new for you? Are you going to try any?

Any tips that have benefited your classroom? Drop them below!


Inclusion starts with you and I just want to help.


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