Progress Monitoring Assessment
The problem-solving approach is as fundamental to the success of the Response to Intervention Model. In the problem solving approach, problems are identified (clarified in terms of target and actual performance); strategies are developed to address them; measurements are designed to evaluate progress; plans for who will do what, when and where are devised; plans are carried out; results are evaluated; and the ensuing analysis informs the next round of instruction and intervention. Progress monitoring assessments are essential to evaluating progress and evaluating results.
Progress monitoring assessments are quick probes that provide teachers with on-going information about students' response to intervention. The goal of these assessments is to provide teachers with data to answer two questions:
- is she making progress towards a grade-level expectation or long-term goal?
- is she making progress towards mastery of a targeted skill?
District-wide curriculum-based measures (CBM) are often used by teachers to answer the first question, while teacher-made probes often provide data to answer the second question. While often confused with curriculum-based assessment, curriculum-based measures are a particular type of standardized assessments that allow a teacher to determine students' progress toward long-term goals (Deno, 1985; 2003; Hosp and Hosp, 2003; Shinn, 1989). CBM's monitor student progress through direct, continuous assessment of basic skills (ie: letter name fluency, reading fluency, maze comprehension, spelling, math calculations). Students are presented multidimensional probes that integrate various skills that students need to meet grade-level expectations. For example, three times a year teachers determine the number of words correct per minute a child can read on a grade-level text. Examples of curriculum-based measures include Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS), Monitoring Basic Skills Progress (MBSP) and AIMSweb. Over the past twenty years CBM has evolved to be standardized general curriculum probes so that teachers can make better comparisons, and provide consistent understanding of student progress (Deno, 2003; Fuchs and Fuchs, 2004). This is helpful when curricula and instruction changes over time and district.
The information obtained on the curriculum-based measures is compared to national or district benchmarks. In Rhode Island, for those students whose performance is below benchmark personalized intervention plans, PLPs, are designed and implemented. This is where teachers need to be able to answer the second question: Is she making progress in the targeted skill for which the intervention plan is designed? To answer this question, both CBM probes and curriculum-based assessments can be used. For example, when working to develop a 2nd grade student's basic reading skills, words correct per minute, on a DIBELS probe would be appropriate. Additionally, it is often helpful if teachers develop short probes to assess student's progress towards mastery of the subskill. This is often done using a variety curriculum-based assessments approaches. For example, when working on a particular phonics patterns (ie: short a and i) probes assessing student's ability to correctly decode and spell the words with these patterns may be used.
In conclusion, progress monitoring assessments need to measure essential skills that children are learning in reading, writing and math. Such assessments are given over time to not only document students' level of performance, but also rate of learning. Both types of information are essential to determining if the intervention is helping the student reach grade-level expectations. Given the nature of the progress monitoring tasks, assessments chosen need to be as simple as possible, time-efficient, and objective. Curriculum-based measures meet these requirements. When progress monitoring is implemented correctly, benefits of progress monitoring assessment include:
- accelerated learning because students are receiving more appropriate instruction;
- more informed instructional decisions;
- documentation of student progress for accountability purposes;
- more efficient communication with families and other professionals about students' progress;
- higher expectations for students by teachers; and
- fewer Special Education referrals. (Hasbrouck, Woldbeck, Ihnot and Parker, 1999; http://www.studentprogress.org)
References and More Information
- Deno, S. L. (1985). Curriculum-based measurement: The emerging alternative. Exceptional Children, 52, 219-232.
- Deno, S.L (2003). Developments in curriculum-based measurement. Journal of Special Education, 37, 184-192.
- Fuchs, L. (2004) The past, present, and future of curriculum-based measurement research. School Psychology Review, 33, 188-192.
- Hasbrouck, J., Woldbeck, T., Ihnot, C. & Parker, R.(1999). One teacher's use of curriculum-based measurement: A changed opinion. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 14(2), 118-126.
- Hosp, M. & Hosp, J. (2003). Curriculum-based measurement for reading, spelling and math: How to do it and why. Preventing School Failure, 48, 10-17.
- Shinn, M. R. (Ed.). (1989). Curriculum-based measurement: Assessing special children. New York: Guildford Press.
- Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS)
- Monitoring Basic Skills Progress-Second Edition (MBSP)
- National Center for Student Progress Monitoring