Academic journal article School Psychology Review

New and Existing Curriculum-Based Writing Measures: Technical Features within and across Grades

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

New and Existing Curriculum-Based Writing Measures: Technical Features within and across Grades

Article excerpt

Abstract. The purpose of this study was to examine technical features of new and existing curriculum-based measures of written expression in terms of writing task, duration, and scoring procedures. Twenty- five third-, 43 fifth-, and 55 seventh-graders completed passage- copying tasks in 1.5 min and picture, narrative, and expository writing prompts in 3-7 min. Samples were scored quantitatively. Measures that yielded sufficient alternate-form reliability were examined to determine which had sufficient criterion validity, and those with sufficient criterion validity were examined to determine which detected growth from fall to Different types of tasks yielded varying levels of technical adequacy at each grade, with longer durations having stronger technical adequacy for older students and more complex scoring procedures having stronger technical adequacy for all students. Narrative writing appeared most promising in terms of its technical adequacy across grades. Implications for monitoring progress within and across grades are discussed.


Progress monitoring has long been a hallmark of special education. Individualized Education Program teams use progress monitoring to establish students' present levels of performance, set goals, monitor progress to ward those goals, and make instructional changes when progress is insufficient (Deno & Fuchs, 1987). Moreover, progress monitoring is viewed as a way to uphold tenets of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (2004) by aligning individual goals and objectives with performance and progress in the general education curriculum (e.g., Nolet & McLaughlin, 2000). Progress monitoring has also gained increased attention of education policy makers and administrators. Current policies that emphasize standards and accountability (No Child Left Behind Act, 2002) and response to intervention (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) have illuminated the need for assessment tools that can be used to track student progress and to quickly and accurately identify those at risk of failing to meet critical academic standards.

Educators also have recently focused their attention on assessing and developing students' writing skills. This attention is, in part, in response to reports of high proportions of students who do not meet proficiency levels in writing. In 2002, 72% of 4th-graders, 69% of 8th-graders, and 77% of 12th-graders were performing below a proficient level in writing (National Center for Education Statistics, 2003). Thus, the National Commission on Writing (2003) urged educational policy makers and practitioners to focus on writing in its report, "The Neglected 'R': The Need for a Writing Revolution," and promoted "an integrated system of standards, curriculum, instruction, and assessment" (National Commission on Writing, 2006, p. 19) for ensuring that students achieve excellence in writing.

To document student progress within the curriculum and toward rigorous standards, identify those who are struggling, and inform instruction aimed at improving writing proficiency, technically sound progress monitoring tools are needed. One well-researched progress monitoring approach is curriculum-based measurement (CBM; Deno, 1985). A 30-year program of research has illustrated the capacity of CBM to provide reliable and valid indicators of student performance and progress in core content areas (Marston, 1989; see also Foegen, Jiban, & Deno, 2007; Mc-Master & Espin, 2007; Wayman, Wallace, Wiley, Ticha, & Espin, 2007) and to effect improvements in student achievement (Stecker, Fuchs, & Fuchs, 2005). Below, we briefly review research on the development of CBM in written expression (CBM-W).

Research at Elementary and Secondary Levels

CBM-W was first developed at the Institute for Research on Learning Disabilities at the University of Minnesota. Institute for Research on Learning Disabilities researchers demonstrated that several simple, countable indices obtained from brief writing samples were valid in relation to standardized writing tests, a developmental scoring system, and holistic ratings (r values = . …

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