I think we can all agree that speech therapy data collection is important. The other day I asked several friends if they thought it was worth it to spend time gathering baseline data on each student at the beginning of the year. I mean, wouldn’t it be easier to just look at their most recent progress report and plan your therapy from there?
The overwhelming response was YES, most thought it was definitely worth it to spend time doing the speech therapy data collection. Think about it… over the summer kids were not practicing their skills on a regular basis. Kids move in and out of schools, and all SLPs don’t gather data in the same way. The most recent data is likely not so accurate.
It’s always good to have a basis for tracking progress. You want to know what that aimline is supposed to look like.
Admittedly, it’s not always easy to spend your first several sessions gathering accurate and valid data for each and every student on your caseload. Let’s look at some common mistakes SLPs make when gathering baselines and how you can avoid them!
Mistake #1 Not taking baseline data at all
OK, this one might be a little obvious since we just talked about the importance of taking data. Check out this post for more about baseline data!
However, you’d be surprised at how many teachers and SLPs just “make a guess” at what a student can do and call that data. (Note: There’s definitely a time for qualitative data, but baselines are probably not one of those times.)
I know we all want to pull out the fun games and worksheets and let them practice their sounds or skills. Who has time to actually plan for therapy, right? 😉 I say, try to start your year off on the right track and take some good quality data right out of the gate!
Mistake #2 Taking data during the whole session
As SLPs, we are always looking for ways to get in that practice. We want at least 100 trials every session. If your goals and objectives are written by percentage, then you do NOT have to take data on all 100 of those trials.
I like to grab the first 10 responses. It’s a nice round number that makes it easy to calculate the percentages. Plus, the first 10 responses when they just get in the room probably won’t be as high as the last 10 before leaving. This makes it a little more reflective of carrying over the needed skill.
Mistake #3 Using a variety of data measures
When you have to gather data on 50+ students with 3-5 different goals each, it’s hard to go around and gather materials to probe so many different goals. It’s so much easier to use the same few resources to gather your speech therapy data collection on each student.
This also makes it more reliable when tracking throughout the year. Depending on how your goals are written, tracking progress with the same data measures will help you see how much they’ve improved and where they still need to grow.
Mistake #4 Not having well-written, measurable goals
I’m sure we’ve all inherited IEPs with goals that are not written the way we would write them. Sometimes it’s hard to decipher what they are really wanting the student to do, and taking data on them is pretty near impossible.
This should make us realize the importance of clear, measurable goals. We make our own lives SO much easier when we write goals that make it easy to track progress. When I sit down to write that IEP, I try to think about how future me will be tracking these goals and how another SLP would interpret them.
Mistake #5 Not having an organizational system
OK, friend. It’s not fun trying to keep track of the thousands of papers that cross your desk everyday. And it’s really not fun if you lose one. Having a system in place to make sure you have all of your students’ data in order is essential.
Think through the tools you use and how you’ll track everything. Will you take all the data digitally? Will you have a data binder? Where will you store the probes and resources you’ll use?
For taking data, I love using my Baseline Data Tools resources. I have them for both articulation and language, and they make gathering baselines SO much easier. It’s nice having a go-to resource for nearly every student on my caseload.
For organization I’m tracking digitally as much as I can this year. Each of my students will have a digital folder with all of their specific data, notes, and resources I commonly use with them. I can easily scan and upload any handwritten notes as well. We’ll see if I like it. I’ll keep you updated on my system if you’re interested!
I know paperwork can be a beast to tackle. If you need help getting started, check out my FREE 5-day paperwork boss email challenge! It comes with a sweet workbook and all my favorite tips. Sign up and start now!