- It helps us know where exactly our students stand in achieving their goals.
- It helps us better plan our therapy sessions. If we know exactly what they can do, we aren't guestimating what to work on.
- We need it for other paperwork: progress reports, IEPs, etc.
- It gives us proof/leverage when presenting ideas to other faculty.
- It helps us to make decisions based on hard facts and information, not just how we feel.
- It's required by law. In my state we have to provide proof of services and show our data/tally sheets if asked (especially if Medicaid eligible).
- It's in our job description. See this ASHA article. Data collection and analysis are under our roles and responsibilities as SLPs in the schools.
I'm sure you can think of a million more reasons why data collection is helpful, but these are a good start.
Taking data is a task that I am constantly trying to get a better handle on. I've redone my system about 596 times. One of my readers wanted to know about my data sheets, so I'm happy to share a little of what I have used in the past.
Attendance sheet - My attendance sheet was inspired by one of the tally sheets that was sent to us by someone in our district (I'm pretty sure it was Mia!). I wanted a sheet that would have all of their info on it but would be quick and easy to use.
Tally sheets - 3 different types, depending on the student's goals and needs.
Daily notes - These are for my crazy days. At times when I'm in and out of meetings and classrooms all day, sometimes I don't have the breaks I need to fill up my data sheets. With this form, I can quickly grab it and write notes on it throughout the day without having to flip through my binder. I just transfer then notes onto my student tally sheets at a later time.
Lesson plan - Some districts require therapists to keep lesson plans. I have a spot for the weekly theme I'm using, materials needed, what's being focused on in the curriculum, and specific plans.
Although let me just throw out there that you can have all the pretty sheets and best intentions in the world...but you HAVE to actually use them. These are just some of the forms that have helped me. You can grab a copy of some of my data sheets HERE.
I would love to eventually go paperless with my taking my data. Unfortunately, I haven't found the perfect iPad app to do that. Even a good editing app would help. If any of you have any recommendations, I'd love to hear! And if and when I discover the perfect way to take data on the iPad, you will be the first to know! ;)