Data Collection in Special Education: Why is it Important?
Collecting data is one of the MOST important parts of being a special educator. There is a ton of data collection in special education over your students' many IEP goals. In addition, you should be collecting and assessing data at least once per week over these goals. This can be a lot to maintain as a special education teacher. I'm here to let you know that it is definitely possible to collect data and keep it in easy-to-access places WITHOUT feeling overwhelmed or run down!
What Types of Data Do You Use in Special Education?
There are many different academic areas that you will want to collect data on, depending on your student's disability and IEP goals in special education. You may be collecting data on: independent work, ELA, math and even on a student's behavior. Grab this FREE data collection sheet to help get yourself organized and make your life simpler!
3 Data Collection TIPS to Keep You Organized in Special Ed:
I spent years being very unorganized with my data collection. Don't make the same mistakes that I have in the past! Let me share 3 tips with you to help make data collection super easy in your special ed classroom.
1. Create a Data Collection Binder
I am typically a big paper person, so in my room, every student used to have their own data binder. In it, I put their IEP at a Glance at the front, as well as any data collection sheets that I needed based on their IEP goals. I printed enough data collection sheets for the IEP year so that I was set. Keep the data binders in an easy-to-access place such as by your work table or on a shelf where all staff can get to them.
2. Use Google Forms to Track Data
If you are more of a digital person, then this data tip is for you! Start tracking all of your student's IEP data DIGITALLY by using Google Forms. This has been life changing to me! I started doing this about 3 years ago when I realized that I had data sheets everywhere and I needed a better system in place. I had a LOT of students with a LOT of data to track.
Enter Google Forms! Follow the steps in this blog post to start creating your own Google Forms for data collection and let me know below how you like it! Make sure you read to the end to find the life-saving teacher hack that makes this process even simpler!
3. Train Your Paraprofessionals to Collect Data
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Paraprofessionals can make or break you. I've learned many things over the years as a special education teacher. One thing that I've learned so much about is training my paraprofessionals so that they can help our classroom run successfully and actually make my teacher life easier, not more difficult!
Simply keep a schedule up for your staff about what days of the week they need to collect data on which IEP goals. Have them make a check mark once data is collected for that goal. This is a great visual for YOU to see if you missed assessing any goals during that week. It helps me stay in check to gather enough data over the quarter before progress reports are due!
Make data collection EASY!
One more reminder for data collection in special education: MAKE IT EASY! (Because if it's not easy, then I probably won't do it!)
If you use data binders:
Keep the student's binder in an easy access place for all staff. Make sure they are grabbing it to track data on student's specific IEP goals that they work with them on at least once per week.
If you use Google Forms:
Definitely use the teacher hack in my How to Use Google Forms post and create QR codes for each student so you can easily access their data collection sheets through Google Forms. This has been a huge time saver to me and my staff!