Measuring Student Progress Toward Academic and Behavioral Goals: Implementing a Digital System for Efficient Data Collection in the Special Education Classroom

By law, educators are required to collect and analyze data on student academic and behavioral performance. Effective progress monitoring of student achievement toward goals results in improved instructional strategies and educational programs. However, research suggests that a majority of teachers across the United States are neglecting their responsibilities to; (a) implement adequate data collection strategies that accurately and objectively measure student learning, and (b) make appropriate instructional decisions to design effective interventions that maximize learning outcomes. Several studies have been conducted to expose the various challenges that prevent educators from collecting and analyzing data, including; (a) a lack of time, (b) a lack of training, knowledge, or experience, (c) a lack of resources, and (d) a perception that data are unrepresentative of student abilities and are difficult to manage. To mitigate these obstacles, the author developed the SimplyData application as a digital alternative to traditional progress monitoring systems. The tool aims to simplify and improve data collection practices in an efficient, user-friendly format that can be implemented within any K-12 general or special education setting. Together, the application and SimplyData User Manual provide educators with a straightforward and organized system for implementing a data collection system that has the potential to improve professional practice and to enhance the quality of a student’s educational program and life beyond school.