Be Proactive: Using Google Docs to Collect Data for IEP Goals!

As most of you know and maybe some of you are about to find out very soon, special educators have a daunting amount of paperwork to go along with all the other tasks we do on a daily basis. This paperwork is very important, tedious, and requires so so so much time that sometimes we don’t have time to truly enjoy the joy we get from our jobs (the kids) because we are overworked and stressed.
I have tried several free trials of “IEP data collecting” apps and only find myself in awe that these companies think their product is worth the amount of money they charge underpaid teachers for their less than flexible product.
Then stepped in Google Docs – my true love (other than my husband, and my beloved Ipad, of course).
I use google docs for literally every ounce of data collection I have, I can create whatever kind of forms I want specific to each student and it spits out tons of graphs, spreadsheets, circle charts – I die!
First things first, you have to have a Gmail account. When you are signed into your account, click on the “Drive” option located at the top of the page.
When you get there, click on CREATE and then FORM from the drop down menu.
You will first have to choose a theme – my favorite is “Blue Birds,” but you are certainly allowed to pick your own, then click OK. πŸ™‚
I usually title my forms specific to IEP goals. If a student has different goals for different subjects, I will separate them, unless the goals go together and I will be working on them at the same time.
In the description part, I write out the actual goal.
Here’s the fun part – Google Docs literally allows you to create whatever question type you want.
First, I wanted to create a question that prompted for the date. Even though each submission has a time stamp, I like to do this just incase my Ipad died and I was away from a computer, so I could still input the data with the correct date.
For the question title, I simply typed “Date:”
and for the question type, I used the drop-down menu to select “date” which inputs another option, which includes the year and the time. For this purpose, I just selected “include year” but it would be up to you!
After I clicked down, here is what it looks like:
Here is another question I added:
Passage Reading Level question with a drop down menu, with three different choices to choose from (this can be as many as you want!)
When you are all finished creating your form, you will click SEND FORM and the box below will pop up.
Now, if you are sharing a student on your caseload, you may want to try to “Add collaborators” but they must have gmail as well to input information. You can also send them the “Link to share” and they can access the form anytime through this.
Here is what the form looks like when filling it out:
Isn’t it lovely?!
Okay.. I know this is a long post, but hopefully informative.
Anytime you want to view your responses, you click on VIEW RESPONSES and a chart like this will pop up.
If you want to open your spreadsheet up into another program, such as Microsoft Excel (to create other data charts — I WILL EXPLAIN THIS IN ANOTHER POST!)
If you want to see some pretty graphs and such, you can click on RESPONSES > SUMMARY OF RESPONSES.

I hope you found this post useful!
Please feel free to e-mail me or leave a comment if you have any questions!
Fonts credited to: Kimberly Geswain and Luckyfrog’s Lillypad


  1. Christine Reeve on May 22, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    What an awesome idea!! I am doing a presentation on data collection this weekend at a conference and will share this tutorial with tem as a resource. Thanks.

    Autism Classroom News

  2. James Posey on May 24, 2013 at 10:15 am

    It was such a great article that really impressed me a lot. Being an educators of some special child is not an easy job, you need to be very competitive in all the aspects of doing different teaching styles that can greatly brings good benefits for those children you teach for.

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  3. Mel R. on July 16, 2013 at 2:14 am

    Thank you!

  4. AshleighM on July 17, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    I just stumbled upon your blog and am in love with all of your wonderful ideas! This school year will be my first year teaching special ed. I love the idea of using google docs to collect data. My only question is are google docs 100% confidential?

    • Mrs. Dixon on January 9, 2014 at 3:53 am

      My county has an account with google docs, so yes it is! πŸ™‚

  5. 30on...Mom! on September 3, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    Would this be a good idea for parents too? My binders are getting full and I need a way to keep it all organized and easily accessible for meetings.

    • Mrs. Dixon on January 9, 2014 at 3:52 am

      Absolutely!! Way to be an organized parent!! You're awesome! πŸ™‚

  6. Mrs. W on January 7, 2014 at 3:39 am

    OMG! I have a serious brain crush on you! What a great idea. I've been making merge documents in excel with this info and printing them out. You have stolen my heart! Nice work lady!!!

    • Mrs. Dixon on January 9, 2014 at 3:52 am

      Thank you πŸ™‚

  7. Anonymous on January 28, 2014 at 12:13 am

    It is a great idea but I have a question. How are you accessing this form on multiple dates? Are you going into your drive and sending it to your gmail every time you need to enter data?

    • Mrs. Dixon on January 30, 2014 at 12:11 am

      Thankfully, you can have unlimited responses to forms that go into spreadsheets. There is an app on the Ipad that I use. Very easy and quick to access the forms to fill out and as soon as I hit send, the data goes exactly where it needs to! Hope that helps! πŸ™‚

    • Anonymous on February 24, 2014 at 3:25 pm

      You mentioned an iPad app, which one might that be? πŸ™‚

    • Mrs. Dixon on February 28, 2014 at 12:36 am

      Google Docs – It's free! πŸ™‚

    • Leanne on April 21, 2015 at 3:18 pm

      You mentioned being able to use the Google Docs app and the form showing up there. How to I get it to show on the iPad?

    • Leanne on April 21, 2015 at 3:19 pm

      You mentioned that the Google Docs app is what you use to see the google forms on the do i get that form to show up?

    • Chris Price on October 27, 2015 at 4:19 am

      You can either go to the original form the treatment, or you can share form with yourself. That will generate an email with the link. I use this as a special ed teacher to get data from all my teachers instead of hardcopies. I found the teachers do much better for me turning into a Google form then a piece of white paper that gets lost in the shuffle of all the other white Papers. It also allows me to give the teacher a minute different combinations bailable for student. Often blank forms the rental loss of what to share.

  8. Scott Johnson on April 30, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    Do I need to send the form to a regular ed teacher each time I need data? Once the reglar ed teacher has the form are they able to imput data and I can access their responses at anytime through my google doc account?

    • Anonymous on August 12, 2015 at 8:40 pm

      With Google Docs, you should be able to share the doc with your regular ed teacher. Make sure they can edit the doc and then you both should be able to view and edit the document.

    • Chris Price on October 27, 2015 at 4:21 am

      I would simply share the link to the Google form each time I need. It's a simple and easy reminder to do. You don't need them to have the backing of the document in Google sheets.

  9. Kendle Salisbury on June 2, 2014 at 5:06 am

    Thank you so much for this idea! I use Google Docs but I have never used the forms before. I love that it tracks the data on a spreadsheet for you! I can't wait to use it this coming year!

  10. Anonymous on June 2, 2014 at 5:09 am

    Thank you so much for this idea! I use Google Docs but I have never used the forms before. I can't wait to use it this coming year. It will save so much time tracking data!

  11. Kristina Betancourt on July 6, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    Thank you so much for the great explanation! I don't teach Special Ed but this is a great way of tracking other things like when I teach a standard.

    I mentioned your page on my blog.

    Thanks! – Kristina

  12. Kate Fochs on July 8, 2014 at 2:50 am

    Wow, thank you so much for this tutorial! I am in love! I have teacher assistants in my classroom and they help me fill out data. What are some ways I can have them fill this out if each of them does not have a computer available? Also, for them, how do I make it uneditable!
    Thank you so much.

  13. Katie Sawin on July 21, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    This is great! My new district is going 1:1 devices for K-12 and really push using Google Docs. I feel like I'm swimming with my clothes on while trying to learn how to use Apple products and Google Docs, but I'm still making progress. This really, really helps. Thank you!

    Adventures in Special Ed

  14. Anonymous on August 1, 2014 at 2:38 am

    Yay! I already do this and have tried to spread the word! This blog explains it perfectly!

  15. Anonymous on August 9, 2014 at 1:37 am

    Thank you for this as my district is shifting to a paperless process. We are all using google for everything. I have a question, how do you break it down for all students? For instance, one student has several objectives under one goal…how do you separate it?
    Sorry if this is a silly question.

    Thank you for this as I am in the shift as best as I can πŸ™‚

  16. Katie Lynch on August 9, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Thank you so much! This will be a great way to stay organized this year! I have a question though. All of my students have more than one goal. Is there a way that i can link all of the goals together under one student name? Or do I need to create a totally different file each time? Thanks for all of your help!

  17. Mrs. Huekell on August 10, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Thank you. I was brainstorming how to effectively collect data this year. I'm going to try this.

  18. Anonymous on August 18, 2014 at 12:20 am

    This explains this process better than any other site I have been to. Thank you so much!!!! It's great!!!

  19. Anonymous on August 27, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    What if you have to edit the data? How do you get the data from the spreadsheet to then reflect in the summary when you make a change?

  20. Mandy Kirby on September 24, 2014 at 3:35 am

    What if they have a math goal of 2X2 multiplication? What question would you type in for the data?

  21. Mandy Kirby on September 24, 2014 at 3:35 am

    What if someone has a goal of 2X2 multiplication? What question would you type in for the data? A little confused about the question part. Thanks!

  22. Anonymous on October 1, 2014 at 2:43 am

    I have a few students whose goals include short term objectives. Any suggestions as to how I should enter those? Treat them as individual goals with their own form?

  23. Mrs. Walden on October 22, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    Love this it is a great idea!!

  24. Emily Verbeke on December 11, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    Ah! I love you post! I was just replying to a comment on my blog about an app to collect IEP data and I was responding with this exact idea! Then of course after I responded I did a quick search and your post popped up. I had to reply to my reply with a link to your post! Haha. If you wanted to take it a step further you should check out Ultradox. I've just started using it for another form collection piece to get the data out and back in a document that looks nice and presentable rather than just raw data. You should check it out.

  25. Anonymous on December 19, 2014 at 4:39 am

    Love this idea! Am working on my first form right now. Question: on the spreadsheet response form, I noticed that accuracy was listed. Did you calculate this accuracy rate by hand, or is there a way to tell Google to calculate this for me? (And if so, PLEASE tell me how!) I have our school tech coach looking into this question as well.

  26. Anonymous on December 29, 2014 at 2:40 am

    I really enjoyed your post for organizing data. I will be using your data tracking idea for my SpEd students. Thanks for sharing.

  27. Anonymous on January 15, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    Do you have to create a different form for each objective?

    • Anonymous on May 24, 2015 at 2:53 pm

      If you have to create a different form for each objective then this seems a bit daunting to set up. I love the organization of it, but having 20 students with 3-4 goals and 2-4 objectives, it is really time consuming to set this all up.

    • Diana Smith on August 23, 2015 at 8:59 pm

      I have students who come to me with many IEP objectives on their IEP's. Instead of creating a different form for each objectives, I put each objective on one form as a question and then set it up to have a answer format that I could use. There are several options for answer formats. This way, it was not time consuming to set it up. Each student still has one form. Either way, depending on the number of objectives you have, you will have to spend some time setting up any type of data collection system. I have been in special education for 10 years and so far this has been the least time consuming option. Good luck!

  28. DSH on May 5, 2015 at 2:23 am

    Thanks, this is a really nice intro to using google forms and sheets :). I've linked to this page in my article on some less-common used functions in sheets:

  29. Emily McDonald on July 15, 2015 at 1:57 am

    Great post!! I also use Google Forms to collect data for my kiddos' IEP goals and interventions. I have found it especially helpful to use Forms when gathering behavior goal information. The points, graphs, percentages, etc. can become cumbersome, but with Google everything is so neat and easy to share. πŸ™‚ Keep up the inspiring blog posting!

    • Anonymous on August 19, 2015 at 9:59 pm

      Did you just have your aids or gen ed teachers write down the information on paper and then transfer to the form, or did they just have the form on them when they were assessing the student? Just trying to figure out how I can teach my aids and gen ed teachers this!

  30. Dawn Vale on August 4, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    Great idea

  31. Dawn Vale on August 4, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    Great idea!

  32. Alicia Bushey on August 5, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    I was looking for some information on how to collect data electronically. I keep coming across apps, but they either focus on academic or behavior and don't cover all my needs. Chris at Autism Classroom News suggested that I read this post. I am so excited that she made the suggestion. I can't wait to start using this in my classroom. I'm teaching in the summer program for Special Ed for another week and just may have to give Google Forms a trial run. Thanks so much!

  33. Shannon Higgins on August 10, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    I love this! I am new to Google Docs and I just created 2 forms for one of my students. I have a couple questions.

    1. Can you add more than one goal to a form? I have one student who has two reading goals. Should I just create two forms?

    2. Why can I not see my theme when I go to open the form? When I go to my Docs and open it the theme is not visible. In your tutorial it shows the theme when you fill it out.

    Thanks again for sharing! Hopefully I get better at this!

  34. Mary Vankorlaar on August 12, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    I love Google doc, but there is some concern in my district as to the confidentiality of using Google Docs for academic, but especially behavioral data, and the risk of divulging confidential info about students. What are your thoughts/experiences, and relevant confidentiality information on this?

    • Diana Smith on August 23, 2015 at 8:54 pm

      One way I am able to address confidentiality and stay confidential is to use student initials in the forms and leave any and all identifying information off the form.

    • Anonymous on March 9, 2016 at 2:07 am

      Technically not confidential, even if used within the district you work. We just had a training on this exact thing. If anyone in the district has the link, they can access the info. You can go into each document you create and make sure to change the accessibility to only you. It does not automatically do this. It would definitely be nice if it did

  35. The Bridgers on August 16, 2015 at 1:42 am

    I too am wondering about confidentiality…I have created a few for I goals using my own account. You mentioned it was safe because your school created a Google account can you explain? Thanks! I see this as a great tool but recently began to worry. I guess I could rename them all using initials rather than names?
    Thanks for Sharing

  36. Pam Hubler on October 24, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    I appreciate this post so much! I am going from a technology coaching position in personalized learning classes back into a special ed. classroom starting Monday. I'm having to rethink everything, so this idea is a perfect start and right up my alley since it's Google (which I love). Thanks!

  37. Chris Price on October 27, 2015 at 4:23 am

    Use a similar process to track down through all the subjects by teacher in middle school. I can then run AutoCorrect be able to format the data spreadsheet into a printable hardcopy. Normally I just turn it into a PDF that I can share with the educational diagnostician use a similar process to track data on series through all the subjects by teacher in middle school. I can then run AutoCrat, a google add-on, and I am able to format the data spreadsheet into a printable hardcopy. Normally I just turn it into a PDF that I can share with the educational diagnostician if need be.

    Additional classes I can also report data in Google for my speech. Using my iPhone and my iPad , even my computer, I can basically do dictation. Last year I did this walk in between classes when there was no in the hallways.

    • Shreddie on August 13, 2017 at 2:48 pm

      Chris, Can you explain in detail how you used dictation in your google doc/form?

  38. Anonymous on November 10, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    Thank you so much for the step by step directions!!!! This is exactly what I have been looking for to track progress with my tier three students.

  39. Sharda Hinkel on January 13, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    I must say that post is very useful for students and others.

  40. Unknown on May 11, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    Great article! A friendly suggestion…You may want to change the wording from Google Docs to Google Forms since it may be confusing to some newbies to Google (since they are different). I'll be sharing this with the Sped teachers I work with for sure. Thanks!

  41. Unknown on August 23, 2017 at 2:08 am

    This is awesome! Ok stupid question, each time I want to input data, I resend it to myself?

    I can't believe I asked that!

  42. Unknown on October 22, 2017 at 2:52 am

    Thank you so much! This is SO easy to follow β™₯️

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