Learn tips for using Unique Learning System during distance learning and the extended school year for your special education students.

Progress Monitoring and IEP Goal Instruction in the Self-Contained Classroom

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  • Once you have written a new IEP for your student, the next step is to implement and monitor the goals and objectives for that student. It can sometimes be a challenge to determine how to address each student’s IEP goals consistently and effectively. It takes well written IEP goals, planning for activities, organization, and an effective data collection system to pull this all together. This may sound like a a lot to do, but once you have a system set up, it is easy to maintain and adjust as needed throughout the school year.
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How to progress monitor and provide instruction on IEP goals in the special education, self-contained classroom.

What is the Purpose of Progress Monitoring?

  • Progoress monitoring is essential for teachers to make data-related decisions for instruction, determine if students are on track to meet goals, determine if goals need to be rewritten or adusted, and to examine the effectiveness of instruction. Based on the data collected during the progress montoring process, teachers can make important decisions regarding instruction for individual students. Changes may need to be made in how instruction in delivered. Teachers may need to utilize different strategies to address a particular goal. Sometimes we discover the goal is too challenging or too easy and have to hold an IEP meeting to adjust the goal to make it more appropriate for the student. Through progress monitoring, teachers gain consistent new information to help guide instruction for individual students.

What are Some Progress Monitoring Tools?

  • There are several different tools teachers can use for progress monitoring. One place to look is your curriculum. The curriculum you are using typically includes some type of informal assessment. Some of these assessments such as pre- and post-test data, unit assessments, etc. can be used for your progress monitoring data. In my classroom we utilize Unique Learning System (ULS) as our core curriculum, and supplement student learning with Attainment products. I use benchmark assessment data from ULS to gather baseline data before IEPs. I also use their monthly checkpoint assesments. All Attainment programs come with assessments as well and I use these for progress monitoring when appropriate.
  • Sometimes a skill you are working on is not assessed within the curriculum you are using. When this happens you need to make your own data collection sheet to monitor these goals. How you design your data sheets comes down to personal preference, but if you would like to save time, I have create data sheet that can include up to 10 goals for one student. Click here for access to my Resource Library to get your template.

Organizing IEP Goal Materials

  • Once you have your new goals in place, and you have decided how you will be collecting data, you will need to gather the materials you need for instruction. Consider how you would like each goal to be taught and/or practiced. Determine if you need any manipulatives (i.e. money, letter cards, flashcards, counting manipulatives, writing materials). Also include any visuals your student will need for the activity. Lastly, be sure to add any adaptive materials your student will need. For example do they need pencil grips for writing, a pre-recorded button for communicating choices, loop scissors, or a large button calculator? Try to have all materials you need included with their IEP Goal materials.
  • Now that you have all the materials gathered and ready, how do you keep them organized? I like to put all materials for each goal in either a zippered pencil pouch or a large Ziploc bag, depending on the size of the items. Then I put all the materials for each student in a plastic magazine holder (see below for the ones I use). I put the student’s name and picture on the side of the box. Now you have all the materials for their IEP goals ready to grab when needed!
Learn tips for using Unique Learning System during distance learning and the extended school year for your special education students.

Provide Guidance on How to Instruct Students on IEP Goal Activities

  • Chances are, you will not be the only person providing instruction on IEP goals to your students. Therefore, it is imperative that everyone is on the same page on how this instruction should be delivered and assessed. Writing out specific instructions is a great way to make sure everyone is delivering the same instruction and has the same expectations for student responses. When writing up instructions, be sure to include the original goal or objective, materials needed, how the instruction is delivered, what the student response should be, and how to provide corrections or prompting if the student responds incorrectly.
  • It is also important that all instructors are taking data in the same way. I suggest going over each activity with each staff member from beginning to end before implementing the new goals.
  • I have created a packet for you which includes a ready-made goal checklist, goal instruction sheets, and an IEP Goal Data sheet. All you need to do is fill in the blanks for your student’s goals and you will be ready to implement instruction across classroom staff. This packet is available for free in my Resource LIbrary. Sign up below for access!

How Often Do I Need to Progress Monitor?

  • Progress monitoring as a process in ongoing, however the frequency you will need to record data may vary based on your district requirements. Also, how often I take data varies depending on the IEP goal. For IEP goals that address behaviors that occur throughout the day such as social skills and communication, I take daily or weekly data and average this data when I enter it in our online system. For academic goals, I take data every 2 weeks as our district requires we enter our progress monitoring data biweekly. If you don’t have a specific requirement set for how often to take data, I would make sure to take data either weekly or biweekly. Don’t go any longer than two weeks between data points. You will want to make sure to have a record of how your student is doing on each goal so you can make adjustments to instruction or the goal itself if needed.

How Do You Take Data on IEP Goals?

  • There are different ways to take data depending on how your IEP goal is written. Some goals are written based on accuracy of correct and incorrect responses, others are based on situational opportunities, and yet others are based on prompting levels.
  • In addition to the data sheet included in my IEP Goal Instruction Packet, I also have created an editable data sheet template with drop down menus that allow you to choose what type of data you need taken. It is also available for free in my Resource Library.

Goals Based on Correct or Incorrect Responses

  • For goals where the student is required to give a correct response (i.e. identifying letters or numbers, reading sight words, etc.), data can be a simple “correct” or “incorrect” tally. This is most commonly the case for academic goals. I try to do 5-10 trials with a student to get an accurate picture of what they can do. If students have trouble attending through many trials or responses, you can split the data collection up throughout mulitple days. This will need to be adjusted based on your students.

Goals Assessed in a Natural Environment

  • Some goals are difficult to address during one on one instruction and are more accurately assessed in a natural environment. This is common for social skills goals, communication goals, and behavior goals. For example, if a student’s goal is to respond appropriately to directions, we would take data throughout each day. This is not a goal we could simulate in a one to one session for data purposes. We could, however, do role play and social stories during our IEP goal work time for practice. But for gathering data on the skill, it is definitely more appropriate to do this as it occurs naturally to measure progress. I keep data sheets for goals like this on clipboards in each student’s work areas so we remember to record data each day.

Goals Based on Level of Independence

  • For students with more significant disabilities, we often write goals based on their level of independence with a task. For example, a student may have a self help goal of washing hands with a baseline of needing hand over hand prompting and a goal of independence. With this type of goal you will need to take data on each step of the process. For each step of washing hands, you would record the prompting needed for that step (i.e. hand over hand, model, visual, etc.). This way you will be able to see how a student is progressing towards indepence as they acquire the ability to complete each step in the task sequence.

What Happens if IEP Goals Are Not Met?

  • It is important to not just record data on IEP Goals, but to analyze them as well! Your data on student goals is your guide to their program and instruction. Most of us have some type of online system we use to help progress monitor our IEP goals. In the program our school uses, once we enter in a student’s baseline and goal we are given an “aim line,” showing where a student’s data should be throughout the year. As we enter data, we can then see if they are above or below this aim line and make adjustments.
  • If a student is showing a trend across 3 or more data points, that is when you need to take action. For example, if a student should be at 50% accuracy on a goal, and on the last 3 data points they scored 20% accuracy, you will need to make some changes. The first thing we do at my school is contact the parent and let them know the student is having a hard time with the goal, and then explain the strategies you are going to try next. If the student still continues not to make progress, then it may be time to meet as a team. It may be necessary to rewrite or change the goal to make it more attainable. It is so hard to predict how students will peform as we introduce new skills and goals, so don’t feel bad if you need to adjust a goal you have written! The key is to have consistent data and documentation as you progress through your students’ programs and instruction.
  • I have also had to have IEP meetings to write new goals for students who are progressing too fast! If you have 3 or more data points that are way above where a student should be, you will have to rewrite or change the goal to make it more challenging.

How Do I Describe Student Progress in Their Progress Report?

  • After weeks of taking data, now it is time to report this data in your students’ progress reports. There are three things I try to include when reporting on IEP Goal progress to parents:

1. Explain where the student is in his/her progress.

  • The IEP goals I write all have an annual goal and 2-3 objectives towards meeting that annual goal. My first statement begins by explaining where in this process the student currently is.
    • “Bobby has mastered the first objective of this goal.”
    • “Suzi has mastered her first objective of this goal and is close to mastering her second objective.”
    • “Johnny continues to work hard on his first objective and has recently showed an upward trend in his data.”

2. Describe the data.

  • Make the data more than just a number. Explain what the numbers mean, any trends in the data, and how they relate to the goal.
    • “Based on his last three data points, Bobby is able to identify 10 sight words by pointing to the correct word from a choice of three with 80% accuracy. He is consistently identifying the following words…..”
    • “Based on her last three data points, Suzi is able to place her name on her paper independently using her name stamp on 3/5 opportunities. Although her progress was slower during the first two weeks of the quarter, her data indicates she has been quickly progressing throughout the last three weeks.”
    • “Although Johnny is not progressing as quickly as we expected on this goal, his data shows a slow upward trend, indicating he is making progress.”

3. Share a comment about student performance or instructional strategies being used.

  • Comment give more of a picture for parents to understand exactly what the student is able to do. Comments also give you an opportunity to explain new strategies are being implemented or will be used in the future. Here of some examples the the entire progress note began above, including this last step:
    • “Bobby has mastered the first objective of this goal. Based on his last three data points, he is able to identify 10 sight words by pointing to the correct word with 80% accuracy. He is consistently identifying the following words: the, at, want, girl, boy, he, she, and little. He is not yet consistent at identifying the words “like” and “give” and will continue to practice these words in addition to the new words that will be introduced.”
    • “Suzi has mastered her first objective of this goal and is close to mastering her second objective. Based on her last three data points, she is able to place her name on her paper independently using her name stamp on 3/5 opportunities. When given the direction to put her name on her paper, Suzi will independently grasp her name stamp and place it on the top of her paper. On 2/5 opportunities, she still requires help from staff to push hard enough on the stamp to place her name on the paper.
    • “Johnny continues to work hard on his first objective and has recently showed an upward trend in his data. Although Johny is not progressing as quickly as we expected on this goal, his data shows a slow upward trend, indicating he is making progress. We will continue to address this skill and provide increased opportunities for practice throughout the school day. If progress continues to be slow we will meet as a team to adjust the goal to make it more attainable, however since he is making some progress Johnny is still benefiting from this skill practice.”

How Can You Progress Monitor During Distance Learning?

  • One of the biggest challenges for me during the recent school closures was figuring out how to progress monitor and take data through distance learning. I found a few strategies that worked for me, however I discuss these more thoroughly in this post.
  • The first thing you need to do is find an online platform that works for you. Many teachers were using Google Classroom during the school closure. I found that I much prefered Seesaw. Through this platform I was able to create tasks for specific students that provided practice on IEP goals. Then I was able to use their responses as part of my data collection. Another great feature of Seesaw was the ability to have students record videos of themselves. This was great for self-help goals! I had a student working on washing his hands and brushing his teeth. His parents used the video feature to record him completing these tasks and I was able to record data from the videos.
  • Boom Learning is also a great resource for gathering data during distance learning. I did not discover this incredible resource until this summer but I look forward to utilizing it with my class upon our return to school in the fall. You can create interactive activities to address student goals through this resource as well. Boom Learning also has a store where there are ready made activities, many of which are free, so you may be able to save some time creating your own materials. I have some products available for free and for purchase in my Boom Learning Store.
  • During distance learning I use the same data collection sheets as I used when physically in school. I just transferred data onto the data sheets and entered it every two weeks as usual.

Last Thoughts on Progress Monitoring

  • Remember, how you write your IEP goals effects how your progress monitoring will go. Keep in mind how you will take data and address skills as you are writing your IEP goals. This will save you time when the IEP is complete and it is time to plan your instruction and data collection.
  • Make sure to provide daily instruction and practice on student IEP goals, even when you are not taking data. This is how your students will learn skills and make progress. Then when you take data you will get to see the strides they are making!
  • What are your procedures for implementing IEP goals and progress monitoring? Comment below with your tried and true methods!
How to progress monitor and provide instruction on IEP goals in the special education, self-contained classroom.

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