Improving Goal Mastery through Data

Improving Goal Mastery through Data-based Decision-making


This training is a self-paced online course. The course was developed through collaboration between the Virginia Commonwealth University Autism Center for Excellence and Grafton Integrated Health Network.

To participate, you need a computer with (preferably high-speed) internet access, Adobe Flash Player software within your browser, and a sound card with speakers in order to listen to lectures (full text transcripts are provided for all lectures and multimedia).

Course Overview

There are many strategies for instruction and intervention with students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to teach skills needed to lead independent, productive, and happy lives; yet, these practices are often implemented without carefully monitoring the effectiveness of instruction. In this course, a structured and systematic approach to developing, implementing, and monitoring goals and objectives written for students with ASD is provided. The course begins by outlining how to write objective and measurable goals that will allow educators to determine whether a student is making adequate progress. Next, an overview of data collection, including types and purposes of data, is provided. The final section describes how to graph data and use graphs to make informed decisions. A focus is placed on regularly reviewing student performance on goals and objectives and making person-centered changes in approaches when needed to facilitate progress.

Who Should Take This Course

This course is designed for any professional who develops, implements, and reviews student goals and objectives and is responsible for implementing programs designed to build positive skills and/or reduce interfering behavior. Administrators who supervise professionals and/or participate in the development of student goals and objectives may find this course beneficial. Further, parents who have children with outlined goals and objectives may benefit.

Certificate of Completion

Upon completion of the course in its entirety, you will be eligible for a Certificate of Completion. This requires you to complete each module by viewing each presentation and reading any associated documents, articles, and web pages. Once you have completed the course content, please fill out the course evaluation. Once the evaluation is completed, you will be provided with a link for a printable Certificate of Completion. The course will document 5 hours of contact hours.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the participant will be able to:

  1. Describe the 5 components of a goal
  2. Write measurable and observable goals and objectives
  3. List and define the types of data collection methods
  4. Identify the type of data collection to use to measure a variety of different skills
  5. Develop a graph
  6. List the elements of a graph
  7. Develop a graph and plot data
  8. Manage data on the graph and identify when instructional changes are needed
  9. Identify a variety of factors to review to facilitate progress toward mastery

Organization of the Course

This is a self-pacing course, meaning the participant can complete the course at his or her own speed. The course is divided into 3 learning modules. The participant is to begin with the first module and work through each sequentially until all are completed.


Each module contains one or more videos of an expert in ASD providing information on the module topic. Presenters include professionals in the field from Grafton Integrated Health Network as well as the VCU Autism Center for Excellence. The module may include support documents you can view or download and use. Additionally, website links may be provided so you can obtain further information.

At any time during the course, you can visit the "Web Board" and post a question you may have regarding any of the module topics. After completion of all 3 Modules, please take a few minutes to provide feedback on the course by filling out a short Course Evaluation. You will then be directed to information on how to receive a Certificate of Completion for 5 contact hours.

Module Topics

The topics and presentations for the modules of this course are as follows:

Module One: Goal Development

  • Developing Measurable Goals
  • Goal Writing

Module Two: Data Collection

  • How to Collect Data that are Useful and Meaningful
  • Data Collection Methods for the Classroom Environment

Module Three: Creating and Interpreting Graphs

  • Creating Graphs
  • Graphing Long-term Goals and Short-term Skills
  • Interpreting Graphs and Making Program Decisions

Continuing Education Units

Points for educators working towards licensure renewal (recertification) may be awarded for completion of this online course. VDOE provides the following requirements regarding professional development activities: Point value: one point per clock/contact hour; must be a minimum of five hours per activity. We estimate this course to take a total of 5 contact hours to complete. Any teacher who wants to use it as a professional development activity for re-certification needs prior approval of the school district. The school district will be responsible for designating the actual number of points that a teacher can earn for participating in the course.

*Please note that the course/training does not meet any of the requirements for initial licensure in special education or any category of licensure endorsement.