Making Data Work for You: A Guide to Intentional Evaluation in Special Education

By Trish Geraghty

Evaluation season is underway! Today, let’s dive into the types of the data we need for evaluations and why we need it. At Kit, we’ve been tinkering with this idea, and we’re excited to share some insights with you.

Picture this: you’re gearing up for a RED (review of existing data) meeting, ready to share the battery of assessments you feel are warranted to determine eligibility. You have something planned for every area (you know…just in case). But the first step is missing — a crucial step in the evaluation process — reviewing what is already there! So let’s take a step back and ask ourselves some simple yet powerful questions:

Do we need additional data, or is the data we have sufficient?

This question is all about efficiency. Sure, more data can seem appealing, but is it necessary? Be mindful of the resources required to gather additional information. If the data you have already paints a clear picture, don’t feel pressured to gather more just for the sake of it. Quality over quantity, always.

What data do we really need?

It’s easy to get carried away with collecting data. Sometimes, we end up drowning in a sea of numbers and stats without a clear direction. Before your RED meeting, take a moment to identify the essential data points that exist and jot down any questions you have about the data. I often read IEPs and previous evaluations and come away with questions that can easily be answered by the classroom teacher or family without collecting any additional data. 

During the meeting, collaborate with the team to answer any pressing questions about how a student is achieving academically, behaviorally, and functionally across multiple settings. If the team is unable to share existing data to determine need, then additional data might be necessary. Expand on the “canned” evaluation assessments and individualize the evaluation plan for the student. 

Remember, the goal here is to be intentional. Don’t collect data for the sake of collecting data. Instead, gather insights that will drive meaningful action and decision-making. By asking these simple questions during your RED meeting, you can streamline your evaluation process and make your data work smarter, not harder.

So, next time you’re gearing up for an evaluation, keep these questions in mind. Your future self—and your team—will thank you for it. Happy evaluation season!


Trish Geraghty
Trish Geraghty, an accomplished educational leader with 20+ years of experience, excels in curriculum development, instructional design, and professional development. Her proven track record includes successful support for schools, districts, educators, and students. Committed to ensuring universal access to high-quality learning, Trish is a visionary advocate for inclusive education. Her innovative approach to curriculum development reflects a keen understanding of evolving standards. Trish's transformative influence extends beyond traditional boundaries, actively contributing to the broader advancement of education. A catalyst for positive change, she inspires excellence in others, shaping the future of education through unwavering commitment and visionary leadership.

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