Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Curriculum-Based Measurement of Reading Growth: Weekly versus Intermittent Progress Monitoring

Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Curriculum-Based Measurement of Reading Growth: Weekly versus Intermittent Progress Monitoring

Article excerpt


We examined the idea that leaner schedules of progress monitoring (PM) can lighten assessment demands without undermining decision-making accuracy. Using curriculum-based measurement of reading, we compared effects on decision accuracy of 5 intermittent PM schedules relative to that of every-week PM. For participating students with high-incidence disabilities--all receiving special education reading instruction (N = 56)--intermittent schedules of PM performed as well as every-week PM. These findings signal a need for research on the relative accuracy and timeliness of curriculum-based measurement decision making for intermittent and weekly PM.

Regular monitoring of student progress is an essential component of individualized education programs (D. Fuchs & Fuchs, 1995) as well as response to intervention and other multitiered service systems (Gersten et al., 2008; National Center on Intensive Intervention [NCII], 2013; National Center on Response to Intervention [NCRTI], 2010). This article explores the idea that employing intermittent progress monitoring (PM) with curriculum-based measurement (CBM; Deno, 1985) can lighten assessment demands without undermining decision-making accuracy.

The CBM approach, Deno (2014) wrote, "originated in the field of special education where its original purpose was to be a tool that teachers could use to create data on student learning to aid them in modifying and improving instruction for students with high-incidence disabilities" (p. 172). Developed over 30 years ago, CBM remains the dominant special education assessment paradigm and a component "of all educational research-based training programs for teachers and school psychologists across the country" (Roberts, Wanzek, & Vaughn, 2012, p. 235). Deno's (1985) landmark article "Curriculum-Based Measurement: The Emerging Alternative" remains the most cited article in the 81-year history of Exceptional Children, leading Speece (2012) to describe the quantity of research on CBM as "staggering" (p. 184). Curriculum-based measures are widely employed in special education and in multitiered interventions. In a national study of response-to-intervention practices, interventionists reported that oral reading CBM was their primary tool for PM with students reading below grade-level benchmarks (Balu et al., 2015).

Reading CBMs take various forms: retell (L. S. Fuchs, Fuchs, & Hamlet, 1989), maze (L. S. Fuchs, Fuchs, Hamlett, & Ferguson, 1992), and word identification fluency (Zumeta, Compton, & Fuchs, 2012)--the most prominent of which is a 1 -min oral reading measure scored for words read correctly (WRC; Deno, Mirkin, & Chiang, 1982). In this article, we use oral reading CBM interchangeably with PM. Oral reading CBM's reliability and validity are thoroughly documented (e.g., Deno, 1985; Deno et al., 1982; L. S. Fuchs, Fuchs, Hosp, & Jenkins, 2001; L. S. Fuchs, Fuchs, & Maxwell, 1988; Jenkins, Fuchs, van den Broek, Espin, & Deno, 2003; Jenkins & Jewell, 1993; Marston, 1989; Reschly, Busch, Berts, Deno, & Long, 2009).

Data-Based Individualization

The National Center on Intensive Intervention's "data-based individualization" (DBI; NCII, n.d.-a) aligns with Deno's "CBM approach" (i.e., using data synergistically with intervention for data-driven adjustments to instruction). Teachers using CBM oral reading for DBI set a long-term growth goal, expressed as average weekly growth (e.g., one WRC per week), then monitor performance with weekly CBM. Every few weeks, teachers compare students' short-term growth in WRC with their growth goal, applying a decision guideline, such as "If the slope is the same or steeper than the goal line, keep the program going. If the slope is flatter than the goal line, change the program" (Mirkin et al., 1981, p. 121). Here, slope refers to students' PM slope (i.e., short-term average weekly progress), goal line to students' long-term growth goal, and change the program to revising some aspect of instruction if short-term progress is unsatisfactory. …

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