I remember my first year teaching and working with another special education teacher, she was helping me work on creating my schedule. She told me Fridays are always blocked off for progress monitoring. Not knowing any different, I followed her advice. It took me another two years to realize my “progress monitoring Fridays” didn’t help me or my students. It wasn’t until I changed schools and was immersed in a true Professional Learning Community and attended twice a week data team meetings that I saw a connection between IEP goal progressing monitoring and data collection as part of the instructional cycle.
This realization was life-changing for me, or at least in my career and for my students. Working with my general education colleagues we were able to design assessments that provided actionable data to ensure “just in time” instruction could be delivered. Plus even better, these assessments aligned to both IEP goals and the state standards we were targeting for the unit. If you are still assigning “data collection Fridays” to your schedule, please stop!
We must move beyond the idea that IEP compliance data collection and instructional cycle data are two different things. When you write measurable goals that are aligned to the state standards and are high leverage points to address the student’s disability; then data collection is a tool to improve and design instruction. Special education compliance ensures that students with disabilities receive the necessary services, while the instructional cycle ensures that instruction is effective and student progress is monitored.
Here are some benefits of flipping your mindset to using the instructional cycle for data collection:
- Increased student achievement: By ensuring that all students receive the necessary services and instruction, both special education compliance and the instructional cycle can help to increase student achievement.
- Reduced risk of legal action: By following special education compliance requirements, schools can reduce the risk of legal action.
- Improved teacher effectiveness: The instructional cycle can help teachers to improve their effectiveness by providing them with a systematic approach to planning, delivering, and assessing instruction.
It is important to note that data collection for special education compliance and the instructional cycle are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they can and should work together to ensure that all students receive a quality education.