What to do for students with disabilities?


Working with students with disabilities requires patience, compassion, precise measurement systems, and above all, powerful methods capable of producing remarkable change. When teachers lack any of the previously mentioned attributes or processes, trouble can follow.

The news story “Are NOLA Schools Failing Students With Disabilities? describes some of the struggles both students and school systems can face. The story reports troubling problems students have encountered:

  • The school blames a student’s behavioral problem on parenting
  • Rather than address a student’s behavioral problems with a careful assessment and tailored behavioral program, the school continues to suspend the student
  • The charter schools that have taken over New Orleans have not delivered on "innovation and change” for students with disabilities

Joshua Perry, the executive director of the Louisiana Center for Children's Rights, said, ”Right now we are seeing a lot of schools here that are simply unable to serve the most vulnerable and highest-need kids.”

Where to start - pinpointing

What needs to happen to help students with disabilities? Many changes. But from a basic perspective, certain tactics can help both teachers and students alike quickly.

For behavior or academic problems the first issue starts with pinpointing the problem behavior. While it may seem like a simple proposition, so many people struggle identifying and labeling the problem behavior.

“Aggressive, noncompliant, disrespectful, lazy and oppositional” not only serve as terrible behavioral targets, they can place the blame on the student. For example, let’s say we have a student who doesn’t turn in his homework, scores poorly on tests, and doesn’t participate in classroom instruction. If the teacher picks “lazy” as the target behavior we now have a problem.

Lazy means the student “shows a lack of effort or care.” Lazy also reflects a personality characteristic of the student. So to fix the problem the teacher must come up with an intervention that changes the student from a lazy person to a hard-working person.

Aside from the difficulty of changing personality traits, pinpoints like lazy serve as a judgments and can color how the teacher feels about a particular student. As humans, teachers may have a hard time liking a lazy, angry, or mean student.

Pinpointing solves the problem on multiple levels. 1. Counting behavior such as “places homework on desk” falls within the purview of what teachers can address and change (versus changing someone’s personality traits). 2. Counting “says swear word when given instructions” makes it less personal than focusing on “verbal abuse.” 3. Pinpoints focus on accelerative behavior versus only decelerative behavior.

More help Standard Celeration Charting (SCC)

Monitoring a student’s behavior over time requires a display system sensitive to change. Big changes and small changes need to be represented clearly so that the teacher can carefully observe the magnitude of change occurring. If a student has a serious behavior problem then the teacher must know the impact of any and all interventions aimed at ameliorating the problem behavior. Nonstandard linear graphs just don’t cut it when teachers can have Standard Celeration Charts.

Which nonstandard linear graph depicts the slope correctly?


The Standard Celeration Chart always shows change properly. The slope (celeration line) will not change like nonstandard linear graphs do (nonstandard graphs change because people make graphs like they want to without following standards).

Also, nonstandard linear graphs do not quantify learning and change like the Standard Celeration Chart. The SCC puts a number a change showing the multiplicative and divisional change (expressed at x2.0 or 100% weekly growth; ÷2.0 or 50% weekly decay).

Students with disabilities deserve the most sensitive measures and visual display system. Indeed, all students do.


Another facet of student improvement comes in the form of behavioral fluency. Behavioral fluency refers to behavior that reaches high levels of accuracy and speed. Fluent behavior means masterful, competent behavior.

To reach fluency a student must engage in systematic practice. And to practice students must have materials. The figure below shows a properly formed practice sheet for subtraction facts.


Students with disabilities have many challenges. But with systems like Chartlytics, teachers can learn to pinpoint meaningful behavior, measure behavior with precise metrics, have students practice to fluency (access fluency materials), and monitor all data on a powerful visual display – the Standard Celeration Chart.

Condition change or phase change?


When applying the scientific method, people will manipulate or observe “variables.” A variable refers to any factor a scientist can control, change, or measure in an experiment.

Examples of variables: a drug designed to cure strep throat, an exercise method geared towards helping people lose weight, a reinforcement program used to improve students’ homework completion.

When a scientist applies a variable, the graphed data reflects the degree of change. A graph showing the data from an experiment will show different variables as “conditions.” Conditions show the presence or absence of variables.

Rod doesn’t like to sit still

Let’s image we conducted an applied experiment with first grader Rod. Rod has a shock of red hair and an infectious personality. The kind of kid we all love to hangout with. In class, Rod frequently stands up, stretches, or runs in place during circle time. Rod’s behavior distracts the other students (though some laugh) and causes the teacher Ms. Shubin to stop her instruction and prompt Rod to sit back down.

Ms. Shubin wants a change so she can teach Rod and the other students better during circle time. She decides to do an applied experiment. She has pinpointed Rod’s undesirable behavior as “free-do raises body from the mat.” Ms. Shubin wants to decelerate Rod’s behavior so she uses an X on the chart.

The Standard Celeration Chart exquisitely shows behavior change through time. In fact, Ms. Shubin believes no better chart exists for times series behavior (We at Chartlytics agree with her; Good call Ms. Shubin).

Notice the first condition in which Ms. Shubin counts, times, and records the pinpoint - baseline. Baseline does not mean Rod doesn’t do anything. Baseline indicates no special experimental arrangements have occurred with any of the recorded behavior. The baseline condition occurs twice as shown in the figure below.


Ms. Shubin has implemented an intervention where she periodically praises Rod for times she observes him with his body placed on the mat. The intervention for praising Rod qualifies as a condition. Notice in the figure below the two instances in time where Ms. Shubin runs the intervention condition.

The applied study Ms. Shubin has run has two conditions, baseline and the intervention “Praise ‘Body in place.’”

Phases differ from conditions

The figure below shows four phases. A phases refers to a period of time. We can see in the first phase Rod did his thing during baseline. Then in the second phase Ms. Shubin brought her A game and ran a nice intervention. During the third phase Rod went back to baseline where no teacher intervention occurred. The fourth phase ushered in the intervention for a second time.


Phases differ from conditions. With phases we have periods of time. With conditions we have variables. Therefore, when doing a study we want to see what conditions the experimenter applies across time. The figure below shows the Condition Labels and the Condition Lines. 


Condition labels tell us what has happened to the data under the label. When a new condition arrives, a condition line tells us we have a major change in effect.

People use the term phase change line and condition change line synonymously. Should they? If we strive for technical adequacy, we should answer the previous question with a polite “no.” A phase change would mean we have switched to a new period of time, but a condition change line provides more information telling all chart readers a new condition has begun. Furthermore, the condition label informs the chart reader as to exactly what transpired. So we would not classify the use of the term phase change as wrong. Instead we should encourage “condition change” because it more aptly describes and informs the chart reader as to what has happened.

Condition change lines and condition labels, let’s use them!

The intriguing Condition Change Line


Effectively monitoring behavior means always understanding the current condition in effect. A condition refers to the presence or absence of an intervention during a certain phase or period of time. For example, a performer receiving no intervention has data appearing in a condition called “baseline.” 

When someone institutes an intervention, a condition change line shows the intervention along with the name of the intervention. A performer, for instance, may receive a reward after meeting her daily frequency aim (goal) each day. Her new condition has a name called “Daily reward.” A condition change line visually signals the advent of a new condition.

A chart reader analyzes the effect of an intervention by inspecting the data appearing after the condition change line. Chartlytics shows a condition change line with a red line ending with a small 90 degree line to the right (and the name of the condition).

How to add a condition change line

First, (1) click on the performers link and then (2) select the specific performer for whom you would like to enter an intervention or annotation.

Click on the tab for Conditions (3). You will see a green box (called a button) with the words “Add Condition.” Click on the Add Condition button (3).

Next you will see a Worksheet for the specific Performer. In the Worksheet all of the pinpoints for Performer will appear.

After clicking on the Add Condition button you will arrive on a page that allows you to add a condition.

In the box “Title (Short, to be rendered on the chart)” write a short title labeling the intervention or annotation (4). Under the “Description” you can enter a longer, more detailed description of the intervention or annotation (5).

Choose (6) an annotation or intervention. An annotation captures comments, explanations, or observations that may enlighten the chart reader as to what happened with a certain data point or set of data points. As an example, a new staff person might work with the performer and an annotation would clue in the chart reader that something different took place (potentially important but perhaps not). An annotation will appear as a dotted line and will not affect change measures (e.g., celeration, bounce, A.I.M.) for the condition.

An intervention means significantly altering the course of events for the Performer. An intervention could include a change to materials, practice procedures, or perhaps a medical intervention (medication change like ADHD meds). The Performer, Manager, Advisor, and Supervisor can determine the differences between intervention and annotation.

Interventions do affect change measures (e.g., celeration, bounce, A.I.M.). Once an intervention occurs on the chart, all of the change measures (e.g., celeration, bounce, A.I.M.) for the previous condition will stop and a new set of change measures will appear for the new condition. 

Condition change lines also allow chart readers to determine the effects of changes from one condition to the next with FrequencyMultipliers, Celeration Multipliers, Bounce Change, and A.I.M. Change.

After choosing whether to institute a condition change or an annotation, (7) select the pinpoint for said annotation or intervention. Also, choosing the date (8) for the intervention or annotation will specify exactly where the information will appear on the chart.

Successfully completing the previously described steps will bring you to a page showing all of the information. Any of the information can undergo revision by selecting the Edit button.

To view intervention or annotation, (9) click on the tab “Charts.”

The intervention line shows up in between the day the intervention began and the previous day. Annotations appear on the exact day.

Information entered and shared on the chart enhances communication and increases the probability of discovering critical variables for success.

Chart on friends!

Six data display options on Chartlytics


Many reasons exist for why chart users would explore a set of data displayed across time. Some people use functional assessment data and need to use a geometric mean to ascertain the level line. Other people may chart the scores  of 8 different people, therefore stacked data represent each person's performance on the chart. Chartlytics allows chart users different options for data display: First, Median, Geometric Mean, Minimum, Maximum, and Stacked (Future release will include Summed).

First data point. First shows the first data point recorded in a series of data points (frequency, duration, or latency). The example below shows four measures taken in one day. First data point charted means showing the first data point of the day/week/month.


To select First data point go to the Options tab. Click on it. Next Click on First. The chart will display the first data point of the measures for the day/week/month.


Median data point. Median refers to the “middle number” in a sorted list of numbers. The example below shows four numbers for the acceleration data. Median data point charted means showing the middle data point of the day/week/month.


To select Median data point go to the Options tab. Click on it. Next Click on Median. The chart will display the median data point for acceleration and deceleration data for the day/week/month.


Stacked data point. Stacked shows all of the measured data stacked on one line. Stacked data point charted means showing the spread of all data point for a specific day/week/month.

Geometric Mean data point. Geometric Mean describes a special type of average where we multiply the numbers together and then take a square root (for two numbers), cube root (for three numbers) etc. Also described as for n numbers, multiply them all together and then take the nth root. The example below shows four numbers for the acceleration data.


To select Geometric Mean data point go to the Options tab. Click on it. Next Click on Geometric Mean. The chart will display the geometric mean data point for acceleration and deceleration data for the day/week/month.


Minimum data point. Minimum refers to the minimum value in a list of numbers or data set. The example below shows four numbers for the acceleration data. Minimum data point charted means showing the minimum (lowest) data point of the day/week/month.


To select Minimum data point go to the Options tab. Click on it. Next Click on Minimum. The chart will display the median data point for acceleration and deceleration data for the day/week/month.


Maximum data point. Maximum refers to the greatest value in a list of numbers or data set. The example below shows four numbers for the acceleration data. Maximum data point charted means showing the maximum (highest) data point of the day/week/month.


To select Maximum data point go to the Options tab. Click on it. Next Click on Maximum. The chart will display the median data point for acceleration and deceleration data for the day/week/month.


Stacked data point. Stacked shows all of the measured data stacked on one line. Stacked data point charted means showing the spread of all data point for a specific day/week/month.


To select Stacked data point go to the Options tab. Click on it. Next Click on Stacked. The chart will display the median data point for acceleration and deceleration data for the day/week/month.


An example of what stacked dots look like appear below.


Whatever your data needs, you have a friend in Chartlytics!

What is accountability?


In a recent Washington Post story, “School standardized testing is under growing attack, leaders pledge changes,” we learn that many people have started to revolt against standardized tests. 

Examples uncovered from the Post:

-Four states have delayed or repealed standardized testing necessary for graduation.

-Over 60,000 students in New York flat out refused to take standardized tests. 

-Bill Clinton commented on the frequency of standardized testing saying, “I think doing one [test] in elementary school, one in the end of middle school and one before the end of high school is quite enough if you do it right.”

-Top education leaders representing 100s of schools vowed to eliminate standardized tests lacking quality or needlessly repeating content. 

-Current Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made promises to examine the state of standardized testing and do something about it.

The sore spot

Much of the angst over standardized tests finds its roots in the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act or NCLB. NCLB requires states to test all grade 3 through 8 students in reading and math in every year. High schoolers also have to take a standardized test but only once.

People have become upset not just at the frequency of the tests but at what happens if a school doesn’t do well. NCLB metes out consequences if schools don’t meet "adequate yearly progress”.  . 

Adequate yearly progress differs by states but involves minimum levels of improvement as measured by standardized tests (and these vary from state to state). If after two years a school finds itself “in need of improvement” consequences occur. The consequences include giving parents 1. school transfer options (they can take their children out of the failing school and have them enroll in a better one; 2. providing students with supplemental services involving tutoring or other educational services; 3. corrective action which means where school staff and curricula get replaced; 4. restructuring where the entire school undergo a serious transformation - like getting rid of the principal, most of the staff, and changing the school into a charter school or other dramatic shifts.

NCLB had a basic idea, provide a clear set of guidelines for improvement, enforce those guidelines with standardized testing, and deliver consequences for those who do not meet the goals. Thus, accountability has teeth.

Accountability Chartlytics style

As the news story in the Post goes, many people have reacted strongly to how accountability has played out. While it might seem easy to quickly take a side and reduce the issues to “Testing is bad, get rid of all of them!” or “Fire all the teachers who don’t produce results!” (you can find both of those sides in articles and blogs), a thoughtful perspective examines the good and bad in accountability driven systems.

A problem resides with the direct link between standardized tests and teacher action.


Figure 1. A diagram showing the relationships between content taught and assessment.

Students attend school to learn content (first grade math, second grade reading, fifth grade science etc.). At each local school a teacher will teach the content for the selected content area to a student. Then, at the end of the year the student may take a standardized test that evaluates what the teacher taught and what the students has learned.

The academic content taught by the teacher and the standardized test might significantly differ. Therefore, if a student performs poorly on the standardized test the state passes judgement that the teacher did a poor job teaching (because the student didn’t learn according to the standardized test result). 

Accountability seems hit or miss in a system where teacher don’t have a clear idea on the assessment standards. 

The education system has attempted to rectify the problem of differing standards with a “Common Core.” But that content remains a post for another day. What does Chartlytics have to offer when it comes to accountability?

The key ingredient of Chartlytics lies in a standard measurement system, not a standardized test.The standard measurement system involves:

-pinpointing a behavior (highest and most accurate level of describing behavior)
-measuring and recording a behavior’s (pinpoint’s) frequency
-displaying the recorded counts (frequency) of behavior on a standard visual display (called a Standard Celeration Chart)
-carefully inspecting the results on a Standard Celeration Chart to determine the need for a change to the current educational program

As described above, accountability has a different flavor with Chartlytics. The figure below shows how each individual’s performance links to teacher action.


Figure 2. Chartlytics assessment system

With Chartlytics, teachers employ a measurement system with standards defining what they will label as a measure, the precise metric they will use to capture performance and learning, and how to display the data. Therefore, student progress directly reflects the instructional environment arranged by the teacher. Additionally, the focus on changing and improving student performance pervades the Chartlytics system. 

Quick fact: Linear graphs can fool you


Quick fact, linear graphs do a number of things to data that can have negative effects on interpretative behavior. For example, linear graphs always show changes between different magnitudes in a manner that can mislead the chart viewer. Take the data set below:


Table 1: Data showing two sets of data at different magnitudes.

What does that data look like on a linear graph? Behold:


Figure 1. A linear graph showing the change between two sets of data with different magnitudes.The two data paths show that both appear to have a flat trend. The upper series, which has a higher magnitude than the lower series, looks almost the same in terms of growth, very little.

But when we plug the data into Chartlytics, well as Emeril Lagasse would say, “Bam!”


Figure 2. Chartlytics using a Standard Celeration Chart to show the change between two sets of data with different magnitudes.

The Standard Celeration Chart differs from a linear graph in that it shows ratio change rather than absolute amounts of change. The result of such an important characteristic is that ratio change better represents differences between data at divergent magnitudes.

A change from 1 to 2 forms a x2 change, a 100% increase. Going from 10 to 20 also has the same ratio, a x2 change or a 100% increase. Therefore, when placing data on the SCC it will evenhandedly show changes between different magnitudes. Linear charts do not. 

This ends your quick fact!

Chart shares are fun


Take a look at the following graphs. What do you notice about each one?


Figure 1. Three linear graphs.

If you said, “They look different” you win! Yes, they look different but curiously the graph makers used the same data. 

You might have thought “Wait a minute, why do we have such widely discrepant versions of graphs with the same data?” Many answers exist to explain the differences each person employed to make their visual display. But they all share a common trait. Namely, the differences arise due nonstandardization.

Problems with nonstandardization

Let’s start with standardization. Standardization means applying world-class specifications governing the delivery and construction of services, systems, and products (International Organization for Standardization, 2014). 

Standardization leads to a standard or “…an agreed-upon way of doing something” (Spivak & Brenner, 2001, p.1).

When we lack standards or do things in a nonstandard manner we get different results. Always.

The lack of standards shows up in the four differently constructed linear graphs with the scaling of vertical and horizontal axes, size of the axis lines, and the slopes of the line for each trend. One of the consequences befalling people who use nonstandard graphs comes in the form of communication.

It takes time to acclimate people to new graphs. Furthermore, with varying graphs decision making also can suffer. People who use nonstandard linear graphs no doubt want the best visual display for rapidly discerning effects. What to do?

Standards have benefits

The previous question has an easy answer, standard graphs. Standardizing graphs solves many problems. For example, doctors and technicians who read electrocardiographs (EKGs) experience the following benefits from a standard graphic display (Dubin, 2000):

-deep understanding of cardiac physiology

-develop a lifetime of practical knowledge 

-rapidly comprehend the EKG (electrical activity of the heart)

The same benefits take hold for standard graphs as well. Graph readers can develop a deeper understanding of the subject matter. Practical knowledge of the content occurs more quickly and systematically. And the speed of graph comprehension accelerates.

For years Precision Teachers have enjoyed the previous benefits by looking at the world through the lens of a standard ratio (also called semilogarithmic) chart, the Standard Celeration Chart.

Simply stated, people who use Standard Celeration Charts never have to deal with differently sized axes. Also, the scaling will not once shift. As a result, the slope of the line on each chart (when the same angle) means the same thing to every person who sees it. Without having to spend time figuring out the chart dimensions or what the symbols mean, Standard Celeration Chart (SCC) viewers rapidly get to the business of analyzing and interpreting the data.

Chart shares

A long history of good will and a positive focus spurred mottos such as “accentuate the positive,” and “Celerate, then celebrate.” In conjunction with Standard Charts, Precision Teachers developed a wonderful social practice called “Chart Shares.”

A chart share works just as its name suggest, people share charts. Charting sharing began with overhead projectors and transparencies of charted data. The figure below shows Og (the founder of Precision Teaching) sharing a chart.


Figure 2. Ogden Lindsey sharing a chart at the 2003 International Precision Teaching Conference.

When someone shares a chart the protocol involves going to an overhead projector, or now an LCD projector or document camera, and talking about a chart for 1 or 2 minutes. People can communicate so much information about data because of the standard view afforded by the SCC.

Below shows a current version of charting with our master of ceremonies Malcolm Neely directing Precision Teachers with their data.


Chartlytics recently had its first chart share. The following pictures show Chartlytics on display.


Figure 4. Pictures of two charts, both excellent results.

If you would like to experience a chart share many different formal and informal opportunities exist. Formal opportunities occur at conferences such as the International Precision Teaching Conference and the Northeastern Federation for Precision Teaching. 

Informal meetings take place at learning centers, university and college courses, and even online:


Hopefully you have an opportunity to participate or just soak in the goodness of Standard Celeration Chart shares.


Dubin, D. (2000). Rapid interpretation of EKG’s. Tampa, FL: Cover Publishing Company.

International Organization for Standardization (2014, June 4). What are standards? Retrieved from http://www.iso.org/iso/about/discover-iso_meet-iso/about.htm

Spivak, S. M., & Brenner, F. C. (2001). Standardization essentials: Principles and practice. New York: Marcel Dekker.

Subscribe to Email Updates