Oh data collection. It is oh-so-important and yet given all the responsibilities those SLPs working on the schools have, it can be a daunting task. I mean, between all the IEP meetings, IEP paperwork, SST meetings, collaborating with other professionals, consultation, answering emails, planning therapy, implementing therapy, doing assessments, returning phone calls, staff meetings, bus duty…there is seriously barely time to use the bathroom and many of us eat lunch at our desk as we read our email (I know I have!!).
Add the fact that within our therapy groups, we often have 3-5 children and it is common that they are ALL WORKING ON DIFFERENT GOALS. How on EARTH can be take data, analyze the data, and use the data to plan and implement therapy?
Why data collection is important: How do you know if your student is making adequate progress in therapy? Regular education teachers are able to collect data on their student’s performance through classwork, homework assignments, and test scores. This data is important because a teacher can quickly see, based on the child’s performance on these tasks, if the child is making adequate progress or if the child may need some kind of individualized instruction. Data will tell you if your interventions are working or not. If you do not take data, you have no objective measure that your intervention is benefiting the students.
So how do I take data? You have to find a way to take data that works for you and everyone’s methods will vary. I’m going to tell you how I take data, and share with you the data collection form I use. So, here we go…
- I take data nearly EVERY session on every child. The exception to this, is if I am using the session just for teaching the concepts. For example, I do not take measurable data on days that I am teaching placement on the /r/ (which sometimes can take several weeks) or days that I am teaching the meaning of several basic concepts, etc. On these teaching days, I will write notes on my Monthly Progress Notes Sheet regarding what we were teaching, what methods were working (if working on articulation placement), etc.
- I don’t take data on every turn/trial. I will try to take data on 1-2 trials per session per student.
- I keep my raw data on sticky notes (one per student) and place the sticky notes on the student’s monthly progress sheet until I have time to log the data results on my Data Progress Sheet (which I will share and explain in a minute). At one time I was using Avery Labels to do this, but I found it was cheaper to use sticky notes. If you really want to keep your raw data, you could use the labels or a data sheet like THIS ONE however I prefer sticky notes
- Now, it is time to take the raw data, determine percent corrects, and then record the data results into my Data Progress Sheet. This step requires scheduling in a time every day/every other day, or once a week (depending on how you can manage this) that is consistent so that you are sure to do it. THIS IS IMPORTANT! I had a “prep” time that scheduled in daily and used twice a week last year to do this. I also had weekly testing time built into my schedule so I could use this time also if I didn’t have testing planned.
My Data Progress Sheet: Two years ago I went back to school part time to get my Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis. It was one of my professors, Richard, who showed us this really simple way to display data in graph form. Data and graphs are staples in ABA but as we all know, being an SLP in the schools provides us with basically no time to make up pretty graphs. Graphs are an awesome tool because they provide a visual representation of how a child is performing. So my Speech Data Progress Sheet is simply a more efficient way to log your data that provides you with a visual graph of the child’s progress. Here is what my data sheet looks like:
How to use this data sheet: It’s simple!
- Use one data sheet per IEP goal
- Write in child’s name and the IEP goal at the top of the page, and the date range of the data entries in the areas provided at the top
- Write in your date of data collection at the bottom
- When you convert your raw data into percent correct, simply put a dot on the line that corresponds with the data. I also will write the actual % above the dot if they are not a multiple of 5 (like 38 or 52).
- Connect the lines from day to day, which will provide you with a simple line graph.
- If a child is absent, I write in absent and leave that line blank. Same for scheduled days I don’t take data, or for days there is no school (this is how I do it, you don’t have to do it this way)
- You don’t have to take data every session, you can start by committing to once a week and recording those days only into your chart (or once every two weeks) whatever works for you and your schedule.
- Here is an example:
- Once you start logging your data, you will be able to take ONE look and know how your student is progressing. Has the child been performing at 60% for three weeks? Maybe it’s time to change something up (instruction, reinforcement schedule, etc). Has your child been performing at 90% for a month? Maybe its time to think about increasing the difficulty of the task (or maybe even dismissal??).
- Another awesome thing about logging data on this sheet? Let’s say a parent calls you and wants to stop by tomorrow and discuss her child’s progress. All you have to do is pull out the sheet and show her. You can use them at IEP meetings, team meetings, when meeting with teachers, to show them exactly how the child is doing in regards to his/her IEP goals. You can even copy them and send them home, if you want.
So THAT is how I take, log, and USE data in my sessions. If you think you may want to try using my Data Progress Sheet, feel free to download a copy HERE.
If you use it, PLEASE drop me a comment or an email and let me know how its working for you. Also, if you have any tips on data collection I would LOVE to hear them! Leave me a comment!