Monday, August 24, 2015

Let's Talk About Data Collection

Now that school has been in full swing for a couple of weeks...
I'm up to my armpits in data! 
Some of you may feel it's nothing but a nasty 4 letter word
while some of you number crunchers may love it.  
Either way, it's a big part of what we do, and it's never going away. 
Why not get really good at it?  
good at collecting it- good as analyzing it - good at keeping it organized

Today I'm linking up with my awesome friends and fellow bloggers, the Frenzied SLPs, to talk about how I tackle the data dilemma we all face as SLPs. 

As a school SLP, we live and breathe and operate according to our students' IEPs (the written plan- and legally binding contract- that outlines each students' treatment plan). The goals and/or objectives on those plans drive our therapy and they all have numbers attached.  
~ number our students must reach ~ 
For a profession so richly rooted in words, we sure do have to juggle a lot of numbers!! 

Everyone has there own little pet way of collecting data, and I have mine, too. 
While many of the SLPs in my district use grids and chart, I shy away from that.  
I like a good ole data sheet that I can write on! 
(I personally call them tally sheets)
I'm a word nerd; I need space for words! 
I like to comment and make notes so I use this form that I created....

I like room to write the activity we do each day, and I like space to type in my goals and objectives (which I number). If I work on multiple skills that day (especially in the area of artic), I like space to tally each one.  I can also use space to write notes and comments. 

 See how I numbered the objectives? 
That saves me time each day because I don't have to write out the actual skill or objective- just the corresponding number.  You'll notice that this goal aims for the child to perform the skills for a total of 10 sessions. Well, I add (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10) on the side of each objective, and each day this student meets the criteria for the objective, I strike through a number. Once the number 10 has a strike-thru, I know the child has achieved that objective! 

I just love when I get to write WOW on a tally sheet! 

This tally sheet used to be ALL I used because it included the date, activity, data, and comments.  As the pressure mounted to write a more conventional "lesson plan," I now write those, too, BUT I keep it quick and easy. If you haven't read my post about my lesson plans, you can find it HERE.  
That post includes a handy freebie, too :) 

I keep all of my students' tally sheets in one binder, and I use dividers to separate them according to therapy groups.  My personal goal is to tally every session, but that sometimes falls by the wayside when I'm too "into" the actual therapy (which is a good thing, right?)

 Sometimes I frantically tally on sticky notes or graph paper (which I also include in my binder) and transfer the data later.  On really hectic days I try to hold data in my head which actually was quite doable until I hit my 40s.  :)

You can find my tally sheets (which you can customize to meet your needs) in my TPT store HERE

Over the last year, with data tracking and self assessment all the rage, I decided to quit hoarding my data and start showing it off!!  If you haven't already, check out my blog post about self assessment, which again...includes a free download :) 

With my older students (3rd through 5th grade) I experimented with some of them tracking their own data last school year.  They always watched me tally and they did not like it when their tallies included dashes (-) instead of check marks!! I already had a habit of sharing their daily percentages with them; it was time to start letting them track the data.  Obviously, we couldn't track every skill or sound. For articulation students, I gave them choices and let them track one sound in one context. My language students tracked their specific language goal when appropriate or tracked a specific skill they needed to improve. 
Some results are shown below: 

The 4th grader on the left tracked the skill making inferences because we found that she most often missed those kinds of questions on her classroom tests. The student on the right tracked producing /r/ at the beginning of words.  Overall, I found that these kiddos tried harder and made remarkably more progress with the skills that they had to chart at the end of each session than the ones they didn't.  They were devastated when they had to plot a point that was lower than the previous session. 
This is definitely something I will implement again this school year!  

If you would like to try it also, just download these free tracking charts HERE.   (Please kindly leave feedback after downloading). 

When my students reached their target, they always got a mini certificate along with a treat of some kind. 
You can find these mini certificates in both of my learning targets packets - HERE and HERE

I don't think we will ever find the perfect way to collect and document data.  
I'll probably be trying to figure that out until the day I hang up my tongue depressors.  
For now, I've decided to stick the way that works best for me.
What's your solution? I'd love to hear about how you tackle data! 
If you want to check out how some of the smartest ladies I know manage data, click on the links below! 


  1. Love all your advice and your pretty forms!
    All Y’all Need

    1. Thanks, Laura!! That means a lot coming from you!

  2. I am so happy...we keep data the same way (except your forms are much prettier)!

    1. I'm telling you- I"m starting to think we were separated at birth.

  3. Love your forms AND the student self tracking data sheets! Must have now...and get those students doing the work:). Always appreciate your insight into our profession of words...and numbers!

    1. Thanks so much Sparklle SLP! Yes, get those little boogers to work - future SLPs in the making maybe!

  4. Your forms are amazing! Thanks for the advice and freebie.

  5. What a great post Mia! I love your ideas.

  6. I like this idea! I have some awesome data/therapy sheets from Maureen at The Speech Bubble SLP, but there is only one space for a goal. Some of my kids have 2-3 goals and I love how you can edit them with a computer!!


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