Storing Data

Organizing IEP Data

I can’t stand having my special education classroom, or paperwork, disorganized. I like having systems that allow me to easily organized my IEP data. By organizing IEP data, you can ensure that you always have the information you need, but are not saving the materials you don’t need. Keep reading to find some tips and tricks about organizing IEP data.

Why is organization important?

Your sanity. Seriously. It’s important to organize IEP data, because you want to be able to reference it and find it when you need it. Data is so important, but it’s easy to become overwhelmed and not know what to do. By having a system, you can keep the important stuff, ditch the unimportant stuff, and easily have everything you need. The first step, is to determine if you want to go fully digital, fully printable, or a hybrid approach.

Spoiler alert: I use a mostly digital approach with a teeny bit of printable.

Who collects the data?

Everyone. Any gen ed teacher, instructional assistant, or special education teacher can grab data for you! I find it easy to make a quick ‘cheat sheet’ of each student the adult works with, so that they know what they are looking for. That way, if they know the student is working on addition within 10 they know to save that worksheet for you that they did during morning work.

Paper Options for Organizing IEP Data

Ok, now you’ve got a desk full of 5,403 worksheets of Gracie’s math worksheets. That’s not helpful. Depending on the size of your caseload, I recommend a file cabinet. Dedicate at least one drawer to your students. In the drawer, make one large hanging file folder for each student. In that file, use color coded folders for each area (for instance, phonics might be a red folder). Then, you can file things as you get them and easily flip through the entire folder when you need information.

But remember, not everything needs to be saved. It’s important to be realistic. Your goal might be to save only one piece of work per student, per goal area each week. Or, maybe you only do that much per month. Just make sure it is manageable. It’s better to have a few pieces of data that you truly use to guide instruction and decision making than 391 pieces of paper that you never look at because it’s so overwhelming.

Just remember, you shouldn’t be stealing keeping all of the work. If you are keeping a random sample or two, that’s great. But if it’s a lot, you need to make sure you make copies of it so that the parents can have the work sent home. They need to be in the loop of what their child is working on in the classroom,. They can’t do that if you have all of Gracie’s work hoarded stored in your file cabinet.

Digital Options for Organizing IEP Data

If I’ve learned anything over distance learning, it’s how life-changing digital strategies can be. This is my new favorite way to collect data and work samples. I use an app called GoodNotes (available for iOS) to take pictures. I create a GoodNotes folder for each student, and in each folder they get one digital notebook per subject. In the digital notebooks, I can easily take pictures of their work, write anecdotal notes, insert actual worksheets from a PDF and so much more! This makes it so easy to easily gather all of the information. The best part? I literally take the pictures as soon as I’m done grading and then the work goes back home to parents. This means they aren’t out of the loop or missing out on seeing work because it’s in my pile of things to be copied.

What do you do with old IEP data?

My district requires us to keep data for at least 7 years. I think of it like tax returns. If it’s hard copies of things, we put them in a box and clearly label it with the school year. Then, it gets shoved on the top of a shelf in my room where I hopefully never have to refer to it again.

Digital is actually a little easier. A few years ago, I created a “previous” folder in my file explorer and in Google Drive. In that folder, I create one folder for each school year. Then, I literally drag and drop all of my ‘stuff’ into the correct folder when a student moves, no longer qualifies for services, or its the end of the year. It’s actually pretty easy to go back through to find files because I can just search by student name.


Special education teachers don’t have to have mountains of paperwork. By considering alternatives, it is easy to organize IEP data. Each teacher has their own preferences for how to organize, but hopefully this post gave you some ideas of things you would like to try in your classroom.

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