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Taking Data in Speech Therapy - Made Easy!

Is data of important? Of course!

Do we need to take data on every single trial? I don't think so.

Why? Because SLPs can get a tonne of information about their student's progress without taking data for the speech and language entire session.

I like to take accuracy data (i.e. percentage correct) at two points during my therapy sessions:

at the beginning and at the end. At the beginning of the session, I take data on 5-10 trials, WITH NO CUES. At the end of the session, I take data on 5-10 trials WITH the cues that I used during the session.

Ideally, we should always be working between 60-80% accuracy throughout the session (Zone of Proximal Development). So, how do you know that you are between 60-80% during you session? I really, really believe that you just know in your SLP heart. You know because your student is challenged, but isn't struggling.

If your student is struggling, you INCREASE your cues.

If your student is flying through tasks, you DECREASE your cues.

SLPs are constantly changing the TYPE and LEVEL of cueing to get the child to this "sweet spot" of accuracy. Because of this, the child's accuracy isn't really changing!

The type and level of cueing is what we need to take data on!

We need to know:

What works? What doesn't work? Does the child respond to visuals? Were you able to fade verbal prompts? Did you need to introduce hand cues? Did you use multiple choice options?

This information helps you track your student's progress!

Your note might look something like this: "Johnny was 40% accurate answering wh-questions with no cues. At the end of the session, Johnny was 75% accurate with moderate verbal cues. Multiple choice cues were more effective than phonemic cues."

That note contains so much useful information for you

(and for anybody that was going to pick up and read your chart!).

My three main reasons for not taking data throughout speech therapy sessions are:

1) It is distracting for me. Taking data for the entire session decreases the quality of my therapy session.

2) It is distracting for my student. Nobody likes being 'judged' and having everything they say written down.

3) I need both hands to PLAY during therapy!

If you don't love this idea - that's 1000% OKAY!

I encourage you to take data in a way that makes you feel comfortable and feels natural to YOU!

If you are thinking of 'taking the plunge' into taking data at only the beginning and end of your session, I challenge you to video or audio RECORD an entire therapy session (with parental permission, of course) and then take data on the session afterwards. I guarantee you will be *thisclose* to the percentage you thought!

Give yourself the credit you deserve and BELIEVE in yourself!

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Anna Dalziel
Anna Dalziel
Nov 16, 2020

Hi! Yes, I always work within that range because it’s their zone of proximal development! That’s how I was taught! Good luck!


Julie C.
Julie C.
Oct 21, 2020

Wow! I love this! For 5 years, I have taken data on every goal on every kid of each session(groups). It has been absolutely torture. I think I did this because I thigh to myself, “what if I take data on a bad day? What if I don’t take data when he has a great data day!?” This year I am freeing myself of this fear. I am taking data at the beginning of the session without cues. I do write on the side how much he did WITH cues. I have never thought about this 60-80% threshold. So this means... help them achieve at least 60-80% correctly ?

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