Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Data, Data, Data!!

We all have to do it.  It's time-consuming, boring, and I'd rather spend my time doing actual therapy.  However, taking solid, accurate data is important for several reasons:
  • 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!  ;)  


  1. I love all your ideas Lauren. These are great sheets as well. When I made my lesson plans I had a table (like you do above)that was organized based on my schedule (so each day was different with my kids grouped by time I was them). The tables had the following columns: name, goals/objects, lesson/activity, data. The fourth column was where I wrote all my qualitative and quantitative data. Then I transferred the data to the county required therapy data sheets at lunch time (for my am kiddos) and after my last session in the pm (for my pm kiddos). I saved the table in my computer an went in and only had to change the activities/lessons per week and printed a new one out every Friday before the next week for data collection. I'm not sure that would streamline your process, its just something that worked for me. Thanks for sharing your great ideas!

    1. Wow thanks for sharing! I love learning how other people do paperwork. Did you have room to keep all your data for the day on 1 sheet? Or were yours several pages long?

  2. Great post, Lauren and thanks for the data sheets!
    Allison's Speech Peeps

  3. I'm curious what people who work with preschoolers are using? I have such a hard time taking good data because I feel like I'm constantly on the move with the kids. I serve 7 special needs classes in 4 buildings. Suggestions are greatly appreciated!

    1. I feel your pain, Lisa. For my preschoolers or autism kids sometimes it's hard. I either jot things down on my daily notes sheet or a post-it then transfer it to their tallies. Even if you don't mark tallies at every single session, I try to set aside some one-on-ones (even if 5 min) with my preschoolers each week to gather some data.

  4. Thank you for sharing the data sheets. Is there any way you may share your attendance sheet? You can email me at tobynatdre@aol.com

    Thank you,

  5. Our district provides laptops. What I tried for a while was keeping my laptop close at hand during my sessions and typing my notes into Microsoft Office One Note. Each student had their own page (organized by grade level since my groups changed at times). I noted the date, time, number of students in the group, their behavior, and then any actual data. Then, when I was doing my medicaid billing, I just had to copy and paste into our system. At the end of the year/six weeks, I just printed out the pages and put them into the working folders.

  6. Love Love LOVE these sheets! also trying to go paperless, anyway you can provide a copy of these sheets that we can edit and type on them??

    I am a new SLP and your site has been very helpful as i adjust to working in a school on my own! THANK YOU!

  7. Hey Lauren,

    I stumbled upon your blog looking for fluency ideas (the one with the toolbox) and loved it! I also love your ideas! They are wonderful! I work with preschoolers and love this age group.

    I'm looking for new, more organized ways to organize my data. Do you think you can post an example of a data sheet and black out all confidential info?


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