Developing the Goal Components of the Plan Baseline Data, Progress Benchmark and Progress Monitoring Method

Implementing a plan that is truly strategic requires that the Team make data-based decisions. What is data-based decision making? Data-based decision-making means backing up the decisions that are made with evidence - data, rooted in facts, rather than on intuition, perception or based on experience or opinion alone. Data transforms the opinions and views of individuals or groups into actionable knowledge.

Without data, it's only your opinion.

That means that each Goal in the plan must include Baseline Data, a Progress Benchmark and a Progress Monitoring Method. The kinds of facts generated by measuring progress from a baseline provides data that is valid for the Team to use in making decisions about adequate progress, expected success, and degree of effectiveness. The data allow the Team to determine when review and course correction may be necessary. The Baseline Data and Progress Benchmark Measures that the Team embeds in their plan should be those that are sensitive to the local efforts, activities, events, changes, practices etc. over which the Team has some control or influence.

Baseline Data and Progress Benchmark data provide the metrics for the Team to determine progress. The data that will be useful to the Team for making decisions about actions related to the goal, also serve as the data that measure progress toward achieving the Team’s Vision. Having reliable Baseline and Progress data is crucial to setting SMART goals – it provides the Team with local data for determining ‘how much’ or to what degree Realistic change can be accomplished, and a guide to the amount of time it will take to accomplish it. The data define the gap between current and desired situations.

Broader measures such as regional, state or national data can serve as a barometer for changes enacted at the local level. However, changes in local practices or movement forward in developing a culture more open to the full integration of people with disabilities in the workplace and community will not immediately be evident in state level trend data such as OLTS (Ohio Longitudinal Transition Study), state level data tracked by DODD (Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities), or state level OOD (Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities) data. Of course, the intention is that positive changes implemented by the Team will eventually impact system level data, but broad-based data is not sensitive to changes the Team makes at the local level. It would not be useful or valid for making decisions about Goals in the plan. Locally based data will assist the Team to measure and monitor progress of the local Team’s efforts to implement specific goals and strategies in their communities.