Do you currently track when you work with students? Do you keep proof of what you did with a student on a particular day? If you do, then you already have IEP service logs set up! But, if you don’t then you want to read this blog post to get ideas on how to set up IEP service logs. Whether you are a new or veteran special education teacher, IEP service logs are a key component of your documentation.
What are service logs?
Service logs are documentation that you keep that shows when you provided services to a child, what the service was, how the child performed on it, and how long you worked on the activity. The requirements may vary by district, but I’ll be going over some best practices for service logs that should be implemented no matter the district. Service logs are another important piece of documentation that special education teachers must keep in order to maintain accurate records.
Why do we keep service logs?
Picture it, you’re an inclusion teacher and it’s Friday afternoon. You’re ready to go home. But, a parent calls because Dalton came home and said you hadn’t worked with him at all that week. You know that Dalton receives 3 hours of service a week from you. And, you know that you provided that service. But, you have no proof. The parent is upset, because of course Dalton would never tell a lie. But it’s your word against her son’s and next thing you know you’re in court 8 months later, with nothing but your memory to go on.
Service logs alleviate that. By keeping a service log, teachers can easily keep track of exactly what they did with students. You can include information like student performance/accuracy, anecdotal information, or anything else relevant to your session. I also like to use my service logs to document things like a student being absent from my service. In my service logs, I also include information about student behaviors and attention.
What should be in a service log?
My service logs include a lot of information. You may want to have more or less information, but this is what I have found to work best for me.
- Student Name
- Amount of Time Spent in Session (10 minutes, 30 minutes, 2 hours, etc.)
- Goal Area Worked On (Phonics, Comprehension, Math, etc.)
- Score the Student Achieved (84% accuracy, 52 wpm, 9 tally marks, etc.)
- Anecdotal Information
- A Check Box for Parent Contact (I keep my parent communication on my service logs, so I just check the box and fill in the date and anecdotal section when making parent contact.
What do you put in the anecdotal section?
In my anecdotal section, I put information about the activity. I describe it quickly so that it will jog my memory when I refer to my log for progress updates. I might write something like “page 94 of math book” or “bug hunt sight word game”. It doesn’t need to be super detailed, just make it so that you understand it. I then include anecdotal information about the student performance. Again, it doesn’t have to be proper grammar or perfectly edited. Write short hand notes that you can understand. Things like “knows all but “then”” would mean the child knew all of the words except for the word then. Maybe a phrase like, “knew to bring up but brought ones” would jog your memory that the student knew to regroup, but accidentally carried over the ones instead of the digit in the tens place.
In my anecdotal section, I also make notes if I didn’t see a child. As an inclusion teacher, I provide my SDI mostly in the pull out setting. So, if Dalton is absent on Monday I’ll enter his Monday sessions but put ‘absent’ in the anecdotal section.
If it’s a parent contact, I just explain what we talked about, who I talked to, and how I talked to them in this section. You really could have a separate parent communication log, but I like to keep them together just so I have one last thing to keep track of!
What to use to make a service log?
Like so many other things in the teaching world, you can use anything that makes sense to you. For a long time, I used a paper option and then I switched to digital. Whatever you use, it should be something that is easy enough that you will do it regularly but detailed enough that it will provide you with information to help you write your progress updates.
Digital is my preference by far. There’s so many different options to use, such as Excel, Google Sheets, or AirTable. You could also just use a simple word document. I use Airtable, and while it can look overwhelming it’s actually pretty user friendly, I can set up a form with all of the information I mentioned above, and when I submit the form it’s automatically put in a database. But the real magic in Airtable is the ability to sort and filter and group data. I can literally go through and specifically tell it I want to see Dalton’s services in phonics during the month of November that he scored over 80%. And with three clicks, it will show me those records!
When I used a paper option, I just made a simple table in word and printed it out. I then would hand write in the information. I would have a separate table/page(s) for each student, and at the end of the nine weeks I would staple them together. This made it pretty easy to fill out as I went, and I could keep my stack of logs at my desk at all times. Of course, the downside was having to hand write everything and not being able to sort and organize the data.
Some of my colleagues have just kept list of services in a spiral notebook. They use one notebook for each child, and just write services as they happen. By the end of the year, they had an entire notebook full of information for each child.
How to Store Service Logs
At the end of every nine weeks, we are required to upload our service logs to the IEP system. This might vary by school district. Either way, I would make sure you have a copy of your service logs saved so that you can reference them if need be. Print them and put them in a box that is clearly labeled with the school year. Then, you can pull them back out if you are ever taken to court or need to see what you did with a student. If you are like me and have the same students for a few years, at the start of the next year you might want to glance over the service logs and refresh your memory of what went well and what was hard for your student.
IEP service logs are a critical piece of information for teachers to keep track of. They help you with your progress monitoring, protect you in the event of a law suit, and help keep yourself accountable and on track. They also are important to monitoring the work that other staff members are completing with children. Having a system set up for service logs doesn’t have to be time consuming, but will save you time down the road.