Academic journal article Education

Using Curriculum-Based Measurement for Formative Instructional Decision-Making in Basic Mathematics Skills

Academic journal article Education

Using Curriculum-Based Measurement for Formative Instructional Decision-Making in Basic Mathematics Skills

Article excerpt

Many students believe that math is something one learns about, but they do not understand that it is a tool for learning about other concepts. Mathematics is a language used to describe the relationship between objects, events, and time. Learning math requires that a student interacts with a system of symbols just as a person interacts with alphabetic symbols, syntactical and semantic rules when reading a book. Unfortunately, many students in the United States are not learning the "language" of math. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAER 2000) recently found that although the trends for improvements in math have increased in years 1990 to 2000, large numbers of students who have substantive math problems still exist.

In particular, large numbers of African Americans and Hispanics lack basic math skills. For example, for the 2000 report, although 69% of students in grade 4 were at or above basic, only 39% of African Americans and 48% of Hispanic students met this standard. For the 8th grade 66% of all students sampled were at or above basic, yet only 32% of African Americans and 41% of Hispanic were at or above basic. Similar trends were observed for grade 12 with 65% of students overall at or above basic, but only 31% of African Americans and 44% of Hispanic were at or above basic. According to the 21 st Annual Report to Congress, students with disabilities have lower math skills than their general education peers. Teachers need a practical and user friendly method to increase the math achievement of all students, including students with disabilities. One method of increasing achievement is to formatively monitor progress in basic skills using a method known as curriculum-based measurement (CBM).

Overview of Curriculum-Based Measurement

Curriculum-based measurement (CBM) is a specialized form of measurement devised by Deno and his colleagues (2001) at the University of Minnesota. CBM is characterized by standardized, direct, and frequent measures of skills based in the content of the particular curriculum being used (Ysseldyke, Algozzine, & Thurlow, 2000). CBM can be used to create both long and short-term individualized goals and objectives. If students are not making adequate progress on the CBM measure, the teacher can change the instructional programming being provided to alter the students' rate of progress to a more acceptable level. The idea of formative evaluation by continuously monitoring progress is different than using the summative evaluation approach that usually occurs in schools (e.g., end of course tests, end of year tests, state mandated norm referenced tests). Summative evaluation is important as a measure of accountability (i.e., to what degree are students meeting established standards), but does not offer the feedback needed for teachers to make day-to-day adjustments in their teaching. Unlike a summative evaluation approach, using CBM the teacher can make instructional decisions throughout the year that will help the student to meet his or her particular goals in the curriculum. CBM offers a simple and easy to use way of monitoring student progress and identifying the students who are not making academic progress before they fail. CBM measures can be constructed in all skills areas, including reading, math, spelling, and written expression. However, in this article we will restrict our discussion of the application of CBM to basic skills math instruction.

Overview of Curriculum-Based Measurement in Mathematics

CBM in basic skills math centers assessing fluency in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division (Howell & Nolet, 2000). Additional skills can be added depending on the curriculum and the grade level (e.g., fractions, algebra, etc.). Current research on CBM (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2001; Rivera, 1998; Salvia & Ysseldyke, 2004; Spinelli, 2002; Ysseldyke, Algozzine, & Thurlow, 2000) indicates it is a reliable and valid method of monitoring the progress of students with disabilities toward end of year goals. …

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