Let me keep it real by saying, “YES, doing this is a pain & no school SLP has time for this,” BUT it’s still important and usually time well spent. Also, I think everyone is overthinking it; it doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s truly as easy as 1 trial therapy session, so school SLPs, hear me out.
HERE’s the WHY:
1. It can save you time in the long run. I’ve taken baseline data on skills only to discover that I didn’t REALLY need to be working on them. In my admin position, I had staff take baseline data on goals they’d written, and they learned the same. Sometimes they even found the child had already met OR surpassed the goal they were going to write! That would’ve been a waste of their time AND the child’s time.
2. How can we actually write a goal with criteria for mastery (90% accuracy, 4 out of 5 opportunities, 5 times per session) without knowing where we are starting from? Knowing where we are starting helps us make the best projection of a reasonable target!
3. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably heard me talk about the importance of explaining your rationale for goals to parents at IEP meetings. Having baseline data helps you confidently talk about where the child is NOW & where you are aiming for them to be in one year’s time (after you’ve worked your magic). Likewise, it helps you explain your rationale for the mastery criteria part of the goal.
4. Do you know that service providers like SLPs & special education teachers really DO become defendants in school court cases? As a former sped admin, I can tell you it happens more than you may think. Directors and supervisors aren’t usually called to the stand, but service providers on the IEP are. In the groundbreaking Endrew vs. Douglas County court case that has changed special education forever, service providers were asked to explain why they chose various aspects of their goals and programming.
5. Data is never a bad thing (I can’t believe I’m typing this because I have often considered it to be a 4 letter word). I do dislike that some administrators rely on data alone without laying eyes on the child behind the data. In most cases, though, data helps us make objective decisions about our students.
Here’s a handy visual to help you get it done!
Want an easy peasy way to collect baseline? Here’s one great option!
Do you collect baseline data? Are you required to? Let’s chat!