How to Determine If Your Students Truly Master a Skill

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When writing goals, it's easy to indicate that the student has mastered a skill with 80% accuracy over 3 consecutive data collection sessions. But has he really mastered the skill? A few years ago I learned how to determine if your students truly master a skill. The student could achieve 80% over 3 consecutive sessions, but what if you were to continue another two or three sessions and he didn't achieve that percentage? Can you truly say he mastered the skill?

Mastery or More Work Needed

Cumulative accuracy is highly suggested for data collection with children with apraxia (Ruth Stoeckel, Sue Caspari), so my thought is that it will better determine if a language impaired student has truly mastered a skill. It seems that my language students will do well on a skill one day only to have forgotten what was taught the next time they come to therapy. They may eventually achieve 80% accuracy for three sessions, but using the cumulative criteria takes into account those days of poor performance. I know that once they have achieved 80% cumulative accuracy and are able to maintain it, they have mastered the skills.
Here is an example of a student who achieved at least 80% accuracy two times in a row 3 different times:
Now look at her cumulative accuracy:
If the goal had been 80% accuracy over two consecutive data collection sessions, I would have marked that goal as mastered. But, is it? This student obviously needs more work on this skill.

Google is a Timesaver

What is cumulative accuracy/criteria? It's basically a "running record" of your student's performance. I keep a record of how many correct responses were given as well as how many total responses. For example: if the student is working on multiple meanings, she may have 15 correct responses out of 35 attempts. I record those numbers on Google Sheets through Google Forms and keep a running record of the responses. I include a formula so I don't have to do the math; the spreadsheet does it for me. All I have to do is keep an eye on the final number to determine mastery over a certain amount of time. The beauty of the formula in the spreadsheet is that as more data is entered, the sums and the cumulative average adjust on its own.
UPDATE: Apparently Google changed something because as you add more data, the sums don't automatically adjust. I have had to leave blank rows and then insert the formula for the sums. If you have to add more rows you will need to modify the formula to reflect the additional rows.

In some previous posts, I demonstrated how to use Google Forms to make progress reports less stressful. With cumulative data, I just had to change the form to accommodate the number of responses instead of using only the percentage.
Is it necessary to use Forms in order to use Sheets? No, but I found that it's faster (for me, anyway) to just plug the information in Forms instead of having to insert a row above the sums and then take time to make sure I'm putting the numbers in the correct columns.  If your school isn't a Google School, you could easily make a spreadsheet on Excel with the same outcomes. An advantage to using Google Sheets is that once you put the formula in a set of columns, it remembers the formula and will transfer it to the other sets of columns so you don't have to insert the formula for each set.

Letting Google Do The Work For You

How exactly do you go about letting Google do the work for you? Please watch this tutorial and many questions will be answered!
Questions? Comments? Leave them below or email me at .
Other posts offering tutorials so you can work smarter:
Organizing Your Data for Progress Reports
Using Google Forms to Make a Therapy Schedule
Using Tasks in Google Calendar
How to Make a Chart to Report Homework Results

**Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google LLC, used with permission*


  1. This post is excellent! Thank you for the information-it makes a LOT of sense!! :)

    1. Thanks, Tracy! It makes sense to me as well! : )

  2. Thank you so much for this! I'm a CF and I'm in the school setting. This is revelatory.


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