School personnel have engaged in monitoring of student progress for at least the past 40 years, and those efforts have intensified over the past 10 years as part of collaborative problem solving, response to intervention (RTI), and the requirement to monitor the extent to which students are profiting from evidence-based interventions. School-based implementations of progress monitoring have shown promise, but they also have been met with major challenges. Foremost among these have been issues of variability in student response to interventions, variability in implementation integrity across schools and teachers, and sustaining the use of effective progress monitoring practices. In this study we specifically address many of these issues by reporting on a second-year extension of a previously conducted study (Ysseldyke & Bolt, 2007) of the implementation and effectiveness of a technology-enhanced progress monitoring system.
Student Progress Monitoring
The systematic monitoring of student progress toward desired academic and behavioral goals likely had its origin in the precision teaching work of Lindsley (1964). Progress monitoring became a critical component of precision teaching, data-based program modification (Deno & Mirkin, 1977), curriculum-based measurement (Deno, 1985), prereferral intervention (Graden, Casey, & Christenson, 1985), curriculum-based assessment (Gickling & Havertape, 1983), instructional consultation (Rosenfield & Gravois, 1996), RTI, and the variety of collaborative problem-solving team models referred to as teacher assistance teams (Chalfant & Pysch, 1989), mainstream assistance teams (D. Fuchs, L. Fuchs, Bahr, Fernstrom, & Stecker, 1990), instructional support teams (Kovaleski, Gickling, Morrow, & Swank, 1999), and Individualized Education Plan teams, among others. The design of the progress monitoring activities that characterized these efforts has been fantastic, but implementation integrity and sustainability have been difficult to achieve. Those who investigate progress monitoring efforts repeatedly call attention to their effectiveness in moving students toward attainment of desired outcomes, while at the same time expressing concern about observed variability in student performance, differential implementation by teachers, and difficulty sustaining demonstrated effective interventions. Many groups of researchers have outlined factors that influence implementation, scaling up, and sustainability of problem solving or progress monitoring efforts (Fixsen, Naoom, Blase, Friedman, & Wallace, 2005; D. Fuchs, L. Fuchs, Harris, & Roberts, 1996; Rock & Zigmond, 2001; Rubinson, 2002; Santangelo, 2009; Ysseldyke & Bolt, 2007).
The federal government has played a role in the push for student progress monitoring. Funding has been provided for establishment of a National What Works Clearinghouse (http://www.whatworks.ed.gov), a National Center on Student Progress Monitoring (now the National Center on Response to Intervention; http://www.rti4success.org), and a Research Institute on Progress Monitoring (http://www.progressmonitoring.net). Recently, much attention has been addressed to implementation and effectiveness of progress monitoring. Several sets of investigators have reported that problem solving is more effective when it is comprehensive, well defined, and implemented with integrity (Kovaleski et al., 1999; Telzrow, McNamara, & Hoflinger, 2000). The importance of intervention integrity in progress monitoring and provision of support to teachers in managing instruction has been demonstrated by D. Fuchs et al. (1990), Noell et al. (2005), Rosenfield and Gravois (1996), and others. For example, Grimes, Tilly, and their colleagues have studied the efficacy of implementation of a problem-solving model in Iowa (Grimes & Kurns, 2003; Grimes & Tilly, 1996). They examined outcomes for students when professionals go through a process of periodic measurement of the progress of all students in general education settings (Tier 1 problem solving) and subsequent ongoing monitoring of the progress of students who fail to perform as well as their peers (Tier 2 or 3 progress monitoring). …