Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Data, Data, Data!

Data drives most of our decisions in education. When I was a classroom teacher, it was easy to gather data about student progress.  I am finding data collection as a school counselor more challenging.  I see students at various times for varying lengths of time. I teach students strategies to use in the classroom and everyday life.  Then they go back to class.

How do I know that what I have taught them is being transferred and is effective?  I meet with teachers during scheduled monthly meetings, quickly in the hallway in between students or classes, via email and phone.  All of the communication is wonderful but I still have no hard evidence that what I am doing is "working."  I don't want to teach students random things that they are never using.  I NEED solid proof.  Pre and post evaluations are great but I want more regular data along the way. wheels have begun to turn.  How do I collect data without making the teachers more overwhelmed by filling out cumbersome date sheets (they have enough on their plates, as is).  I also become overwhelmed thinking how I will manage all of this data.  I am currently seeing approximately 85 students in groups or individually on a regular basis.  This does not include the responsive services I provide (when a student is in crisis or needs immediate attention), the classroom lessons I teach, the meetings I attend, the phone calls I make, the fires I put out,  the emails I send, the paperwork I complete, and the list goes on and on........

The thought of gathering and managing data makes my stomach turn over a bit.  But I am determined to figure something out!  Stay tuned as I muster through this time consuming, yet very important data collection process.  If anyone has anything they love, please share!  I love seeing what other awesome counselors are doing!

To be continued..................


  1. Look forward to reading about what you find and decide to do. When I was still teaching (and when I did my school counseling internship), we offered three levels of counseling, as I'm sure you do, too: all children received classroom guidance, groups received group guidance for common academic/social concerns, and then individuals met with the counselor. We collected attendance data, looked at the referrals, and also looked at academics. This would at least start conversations about how our programs were aiding with student achievement (especially if our students had specific concerns - attendance, etc.) Over time, we looked for improvement with our small groups and individual counseling students, but overall with the larger groups/grades, we wanted to see consistenly positive attendance, academics, and behavior; and if we didn't, we implemented new ideas. Good luck : ) You'll come up with something spectacular.

  2. Emily,
    1. If your school does PBS - Positive Behavior Support, there is a computer program, SWIS, that tracks the Office Discipline Referrals (ODRs) for every student. It's a really easy way to use data ~ to make sure that you are working with the students that really need help, to track to see if what you are doing is making a difference (less ODRs), and to provide feedback to doctors if students start/change medications.

    2. If you have students that have behavior charts, put their daily points into a progress monitoring spreadsheet in EXCEL. Have the students sit with you each week to put their data in and see if their graph is going up. Our district just got a new Data Software system called EXCEED. It's basically where ALL student data is in one place so that it makes it MUCH easier to access and share data. They have progress monitoring in that. Kids love coming in every week to see if there charts are going up = their behavior going up.

    LOVE your blog. Great creative ideas.

    I'm moving to a different building next year with a much bigger office.

    I can't wait to organize it.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thanks for the comments! Billie, our school does have PBIS and use the SWIS. I was looking more for data collection for the other kiddos who don't necessarily have ODRs. I like the idea of putting the behavior chart points into EXCEL.

    I am going to try out some different data collection forms with kids next year and will post the ones that I like and the kiddos respond to well.

  4. I have been thinking about creating a form for the students I meet with individually with a variety of questions, including some scaling questions. I would like to have them take it 2-3 times during the school year to track progress and collect data. This would be for the kids I see more frequently.

  5. Class DOjo is a cool way to gather information when in small groups or for behavior charts/Check-In/Check-Out programs. You can record it daily or weekly, etc. and share reports with teachers, parents and students themselves with ease. Teachers and students and parents can even have their own log-in. Check out class-dojo!

    We use the learning behavior section of the report card to note (hopefully positive) changes quarterly. I also use simple scales (1-10) sad to happy faces, etc. at the beginning of each individual session to gauge student's opinion about growth or how they are doing. I have a few differnet strips I use to fit different situations btu a number line and a smile line could be all you need, just keep it the same each time. It can work as a launching pad for discussion, to show them how they are feeling better and to discuss what has helped facilitate that feeling or to discuss any slide backwards. I feel that children really like seeing their own input change over time instead of just trusting us that they are getting better. I can even say to a parent or teacher, well when they first came to me, they felt the problem was a 10 and now they are feeling it is more manageable at a 2, etc.

    Best of luck to you!

    1. Many teachers at my school use Class Dojo. I had not thought about using it as check-in/check-out. Thank you for the idea.