After you’ve written an amazing IEP goal, you have to be able to complete IEP progress monitoring. IEP progress monitoring simply assessing student growth over a period of time. By having a system for IEP progress monitoring, it is easy to check in with students in your special education classroom. Keep reading to find some tips and tricks when writing working on IEP progress monitoring.
Why progress monitor in special education?
Special education is driven by measurable growth. If we are going to get Lowri to be able to read 80% of CVC words by June of next year, we want to track his progress. We don’t want to wait until June to assess him, because we might be surprised that he hasn’t made any growth. I know progress monitoring can sound daunting, and you probably have enough things to do in your day. But, follow along with me and you’ll get some ideas to make it easier! And, you might be shocked to realize you’ve been doing progress monitoring all along!
When should you progress monitor?
I’ve said it a million times, but this is really going to vary by district. Some districts don’t require progress monitoring (but, you should still be doing it!), others might require it once a month, once a week, or anywhere in between. I personally progress monitor every goal area for every child, at least once a week. or me, I just use a super simple list that I print each week that has each child’s goal area and as I progress monitor them, I cross it off. I don’t use any specific day or schedule, because honestly that’s too much work for me. It’s easier to just ‘eyeball’ it and know about how many I need to do each day.
What to use for IEP progress monitoring?
The Old Me:
I’ll be honest, for a few years I made progress monitoring notebooks for each child. At the beginning of their IEP I would make a one page assessment for each week for each goal area. For instance, Lowri would have 36 weeks of CVC words to read, 36 weeks of math worksheets to solve, etc. And each week, I would sit with him and have him complete one page of each area. Don’t get me wrong, there were some great benefits to do this. It was consistent and really easy to see progress. Also, once I got it set up it was ready to go for the whole year!
But, it got to be too much. When I got a new kid in the middle of the year I had to make a new book for her, but I had to figure out how many weeks she needed. If she was absent a few weeks (hello, quarantine!) I had extra pages in her book with no data. And sometimes, after making these wonderful books she progressed way faster (or slower) than anticipated so we had to amend her IEP and write new goals – which of course, meant new books.
The New (and Improved) Me:
So what do I use now? Whatever it is we are doing in the classroom. I’ll share more tips below, but I don’t use anything fancy. I use the worksheets, discussions, classroom observations, assessments, and anything else we do as my progress monitoring. I track it a couple of different ways so I can always see my data, and I use a system for storing all of my data and student work.
It’s really not that much extra work – now when we finish a worksheet, I snap a picture of it and log it in my service logs. Within 10 seconds, I have all of the evidence I need.
Tips for Progress Monitoring During the School Day
My biggest tips are: do it naturally, delegate it, make it easy.
Do it Naturally:
Don’t be like me and reinvent the wheel to create progress monitoring student books. Keep your student goals and objectives at your forefront by having a ‘cheat sheet’ near by to help you remember who is working on what skills. As you plan, make notes of goals and make notes in your plan book of which students you want to grab that work sample from when they are done the activity. And don’t forget, not all progress monitoring has to be paper and pencil. Classroom observations, discussions, student free time, technology time, are all great opportunities to watch students work!
I know, it’s hard to give up control. But, here’s the thing. If you work with other teachers and/or paraprofessionals, use them! As an inclusion teacher, I have multiple kids who are fully included in the general education classroom with a full time 1:1 instructional assistant. I am constantly chatting with them to tell them what to look for. I give them an easy to understand list of things to look for and they are able to take pictures or make copies of student work. For things like behavior, I often give them a checklist or behavior chart to take notes for me.
Make it Easy:
Whatever you do, you have to make it easy. And, easy for you may not be easy for me. You have to find a system that is so easy to do, you can do it in your sleep. I talk more about systems in this blog post, but whatever you do has to be easy and consistent so that it can be done without thinking about. You don’t want progress monitoring to be considered a chore, it should just be a natural part of your day!
Tracking Independent Work vs. Supported Work
Something to keep in mind is the level of support given to a student. Some of my kids have support directly written into their goal (for instance, “With verbal prompting from an adult Lowri will _____” so of course for those goals we want to provide that support. Other goals don’t have support built in, and they don’t have it as an accommodation, so we want to make sure it’s independent.
I think parent communication is key, so I always make sure I write on the paper if something was done supported or independent. I got tired of writing those words, so I ordered this stamp from Amazon and pre-stamp every worksheet. Then, as I’m grading or kids are putting in their folders to go home I just have to quickly circle whether it was completed independently or supported.
Bonus Pro Tip: Stamp your master copy, so that every time you run it through the copier, it’s already there!
Progress monitoring can seem like a challenging task, but with a little thought and planning it can be done! Sometimes, delegating is the way to go and other times maybe you want to do some multi-tasking. However you do it, progress monitoring is extremely important to the IEP process.