How Data Should Drive Instruction

Letting data drive instruction means just that. Review the data and see where students or clients have mastered skills and which skills should be targeted. Within most public school systems, the need for data taking and analyzing the data is a large need. When students are struggling, progressing, or even when they would benefit from a more restrictive placement, data is needed in order to show why. Data should also drive instruction. The skills taught during the day should be individualized for each student and also be done because of the data. Lesson plans should be done while analyzing data in order to see where learners are struggling and where they are exceeding. Reviewing the data helps group students into small group activities as well. No one wants to take data use for the sake of taking data. The Children’s Literacy Initiative was shared in one of Sasha’s older posts, and it is a great visual for reviewing why data is so important.
I have always been a data driven person. I need to see the data and review it in order to know where my learners are struggling, where they are progressing, and which skills are generalizing. If someone had concerns in any domain in our learner’s development, the data to back it up made their concerns valid and objective. This was no longer just a gut feeling. While lesson planning, I would schedule the week including when and what I was going to take data on. That always helped be feel prepared. If a client or student needs an assessment done, I gather the materials a few days in advance so that they are all ready. While in the classroom, it felt impossible to meet with every learner in a 1:1 setting. In each of my 2.5 hour preschool class sessions, I always scheduled for at least 3 1:1 session times with each student. I used these times to teach skills, review maintenance skills, and track data on their IEP goals and alternate curriculum goals. Small groups and large groups also proved helpful when utilizing our paraprofessionals in taking data. I was also lucky enough to collaborate daily with related service team members. We shared and analyzed data in order to incorporating lessons and activities in the classroom while they also included some skill practice during their sessions.

Progress reports and other assessments

When I was in the classroom, we reported on the alternate curriculum, the general education curriculum, and IEP goals. Within each of these, there were many data points and skills being tracked. Organization is key! I am always sure that the data is easy to take and useful for planning lessons and activities. If it is neither of those things, then I am less likely to use it! Using progress report data helped show families what skills their children were showing in the classroom. We were also able to see if they were progressing through targets as we thought they were. If they were struggling or moving quicker than we anticipated, we were able to amend the goals as needed.

Behavior monitoring

Not only is data taking on skills and development important, it is also important to take data on behavior. Expected and unexpected behaviors are good to track in order to see when learners are on task and when they are engaging in maladaptive or destractable behaviors. The data helps the team check for patterns, variability, and any needs for modifications. The Autism Helper data sheets for behavior data are easy to use and give a lot of information on our learners. Time sampling is also a great way to track behaviors when we are not able to track all learners during every moment of the day.

Where can I find data sheets?

When I was in a time crunch and didn’t have time to make my own data sheets, The Autism Helper came to save me! Below is a link to MANY data sheets that are easy to use for all team members in the classroom. Here is the link!


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