Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Curriculum-Based Measurement Procedures to Develop Multiple-Skill Mathematics Computation Probes: Evaluation of Random and Stratified Stimulus-Set Arrangements

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Curriculum-Based Measurement Procedures to Develop Multiple-Skill Mathematics Computation Probes: Evaluation of Random and Stratified Stimulus-Set Arrangements

Article excerpt

Abstract. Curriculum-based measurement (CBM) procedures have been developed to assess mathematics computation (M-CBM). Recent research has demonstrated that the psychometric characteristics of measurement outcomes vary as a function of administration procedures. This study examined the effect of an alternate set of procedures to construct more consistent multiple-skill M-CBM computation probes. Researchers compared two probe construction techniques: randomized stimulus-set arrangement and stratified stimulus-set arrangement. The results of repeated multiple-skill M-CBMs that were administered to students within five primary grades (N = 219) suggest that stratified construction of multiple-skill M-CBM computation probes is likely to yield more generalizable and dependable measurement outcomes. This result was especially robust within the upper primary grades. The convergence of these findings with previous research is discussed along with implications for practice and future research.


Curriculum-based measurement (CBM) is a standardized procedure used to assess the level and trend of student achievement across the basic skill areas (Deno, 1985, 2003; Shinn, 1998, 2002). Such procedures are frequently used for screening, benchmarking, instructional placement, program development, and program evaluation. CBM mathematics (M-CBM) probes can be administered to assess either a narrow or a broad range of skills. The following literature review will emphasize the importance of controlling the content of M-CBM probes to limit the deleterious influence on measurement outcomes.

Subskill and General Outcome Measurement Models in CBM

Single-skill probes are characterized as subskill mastery measures (SMMs), and multiple-skill probes are characterized as general outcomes measures (GOMs). SMMs are used to assess the level or trend of achievement for a narrow range of skills (Fuchs & Deno, 1991). Students are typically expected to make rapid gains in short periods of time. The content of SMM is narrowly defined so students are likely to master content after a brief period of instruction and ceiling-out on the measure. Computation SMMs encompass a single class of stimuli, such as one-digit by one-digit addition. Within an SMM, all of the stimulus prompts are of a similar dimension to evaluate the performance of a specific skill. Therefore, SMMs are often used to isolate skill deficits, evaluate progress toward mastery of specific skills, and determine instructional effects over brief periods of instruction (days or weeks). SMMs are highly sensitive and precise measures of a narrow range of skills. For that reason, SMMs are typically less useful to assess students' achievement throughout the annual curriculum.

GOMs are used to assess the level and trend of achievement in the annual curriculum (Fuchs & Deno, 1991). When measured by GOMs, students are expected to make relatively consistent gains throughout the academic year. The content is more diverse and encompassing so it is less likely that students will master the content and ceiling-out on the measurement. In the content area of mathematics, GOMs encompass a diverse set of computational skills. For example, M-CBM GOMs might include both single- and multiple-digit problems that require both addition and subtraction operations. Although GOMs are generally less sensitive and precise measures of specific skills, outcomes are indicative of student achievement in the annual curriculum. Therefore, GOMs are used for screening, instructional placement, progress monitoring over extended periods of instruction (weeks or months), and eligibility determinations.

In general, SMMs assess skills within a single instructional unit and GOMs assess multiple skills across the instructional units that span the annual curriculum. The specific applications of GOMs and SMMs converge with the psychometric issues of validity and reliability. …

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