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Research in Practice- Data Informed Decisions: Supporting Progress Monitoring

Hands using a cell phone app

Spotlight – Stories from the Field

Patti Cuthbertson, Allegany County Public Schools

Patti’s Challenge: How can I track progress for students on my caseload in the classes where I don’t teach them?

Special Education case managers in middle and high schools are frequently challenged by the need to monitor student progress in all subject areas, even though they only teach the student one period a day, or sometimes not at all.  Gathering information on IEP goal performance, use of accommodations and supports, and other student data from multiple classes and teachers can be challenging, but we know from the research and best practice literature that it is essential. Instructional Specialist Patti Cuthbertson wanted to make this process easier for the teachers she supports.  

Patti developed simple Google Forms for special educators to share with classroom teachers. While there is no available research on the use of on-line surveys for this purpose, multiple teacher-bloggers and other online sources recommended the practice. These digital surveys are an easy and efficient way for classroom teachers to enter data about students. Each form was customized to reflect the type of information, frequency of collection, etc. needed for appropriate planning and progress monitoring for each student. Data collected on the form is automatically transferred to a spreadsheet as well as displayed visually in graph form. These results can easily be shared with all members of the IEP team, leading to better collaborative data-informed decisions.

Patti’s colleagues were, in general, open to the idea of using the forms and began sharing them with general education colleagues delivering instruction remotely. As their schools returned to face-to-face learning, few teachers kept up with the forms amidst all the other changes. Patti is hopeful, though, that many may incorporate them in their plans for the fall.  

Implementation Plan

Time:  Initial development of the Google Form, time to share it with the colleagues who will be collecting/entering the information, and (minimal) time daily (or weekly or whatever is appropriate for the situation) to enter the data on the form

Materials/Resources: Google Forms (or any online survey format that can easily be accessed by everyone involved)

Steps:

  1. Determine what information/data you want to collect on each student
  2. Create a Google form survey that prompts for the information in a way that is easy for classroom teachers to understand and respond to
  3. If applicable, create one form encompassing multiple students in the same class for ease of implementation by the classroom teacher
  4. Share data with classroom teachers and get their feedback on the process. Make adjustments as needed

Implications for Practice/Conditions for Success

Teachers need time to collaboratively develop and review the forms, as well as become comfortable with the technology   

Supporting Research and Resources

Using Data to Guide Instruction and Improve Student Learning

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