3 Tips for Easy Data Collection

Does data collection make you feel… frustrated? overwhelmed?


Especially when you’re working with mixed groups, it can be overwhelming to think about taking data for four students who each have three different goals. That’s a lot of data, right?!

Here are my top three tips to reduce overwhelm when taking data…

Tip 1: Start with One Goal

If the process is entirely too overwhelming, pull out a quick probe at the beginning of session. Spend 5 minutes collecting data for all students in the group (one goal each). Rotate through the goals every week. (This is a great time for all of the students to review their goals and “check in” to speech.)

This way you don’t have to worry about taking perfect data during the session. You can focus on what matters–the students!

Over time, you’ll find it easier to track data while juggling all the other tasks involved with running therapy for a mixed group, and you’ll be able to collect more data during the session.

What do the probes look like?

For articulation goals, I have my students jot down a list of words on their goal card. This makes it possible to quickly run through the words (at the appropriate level).

For vocabulary and grammar goals, I pull targets from the book or reading passage that we’re reading. The book guides in the SLP Now membership make this really easy! Alternatively, you can use premade probes. Nicole Allison has a great data binder that can be used for this purpose!

For social skills goals, I tend to make observations during the session.

NOTE: This is different than quarterly progress monitoring! Especially with vocabulary and grammar goals, the complexity of targets will vary. Criterion-referenced tests are a great tool to use for a more consistent measure of progress.

Tip 2: Use a Rubric

If you are a fan of contextualized intervention, then you will be scaffolding your students throughout the session. You do not have to collect the probe data every session (especially if you have a good system in place).

I created this Level of Support Rubric so that I can consistently describe the level of support that I provide. When I’m reviewing my students’ progress, their accuracy may not change a lot, but I know they’re making progress if I’m able to fade my scaffolding (e.g., from maximal tactile cues to minimal visual cues).

Occasional probes (see step 1) are a good support measure. 🙂

Tip 3: Stick with a System

This is what I struggled with most! I always felt like there was a better way to take data. I was constantly making changes to my system throughout the year. (Mostly because I picked some horrible systems!)

Check out these blog posts so that you don’t make the same mistake!

• Here is a review of 10+ data collection options! I chat about the pros and cons of each so that you can decide which system will work best for you.
• I also wrote about the data collection system that I’m currently using.

You got this! Conquer that data! 🙂

Want to start taking Digital Data? Join our free Digital Data Bootcamp today and get started!


Leave a comment below if you have any questions (or tips of your own to share)!


Hi there! I'm Marisha. I am a school-based SLP who is all about working smarter, not harder. I created the SLP Now Membership and love sharing tips and tricks to help you save time so you can focus on what matters most--your students AND yourself.

Reader Interactions


  1. Diana M says

    I also find myself changing my data tracking system to try and improve it on a continuous basis. I’m super happy you posted 10 different ones I consider! Thank You

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