Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Using Curriculum-Based Measurement to Establish Growth Standards for Students with Learning Disabilities. (Mini-Series)

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Using Curriculum-Based Measurement to Establish Growth Standards for Students with Learning Disabilities. (Mini-Series)

Article excerpt

Abstract. The purpose of this article is to illustrate how one well-developed, technically strong measurement system, curriculum-based measurement (CBM), can be used to establish academic growth standards for students with learning disabilities in the area of reading. An introduction to CBM and to the basic concepts underlying the use of CBM in establishing growth standards is provided. Using an existing database accumulated over various localities under typical instructional conditions, the use of CBM to provide growth standards is illustrated. Next, normative growth rates under typical instructional conditions are contrasted with CBM growth rates derived from studies of effective practices. Finally, based on these two data sets, issues and conclusions about appropriate methods for establishing academic growth rates using CBM are discussed.

As already argued in this special issue (Carnine & Granzin, this issue), the reform movement creates the context within which research-based estimates of expected progress for students with learning disabilities become critical. The press on general education to account for student progress has been mounting over the past decade. Similar pressures arise with respect to students with learning disabilities as they increasingly participate in accountability frameworks and as concern grows over the reading deficits associated with this population of learners.

At the same time, recent legal decisions have increased school administrators' focus on the academic growth of students with learning disabilities. Most crucial is the Shannon Carter case (Wright, 1994), in which the courts decided that a public school's obligation to reimburse parents for a private-school education rested in part on judgments regarding the acceptability of the student's reading program. Such a decision-making framework raises questions about what constitutes "acceptable" academic growth for students with learning disabilities.

The purpose of this article is to illustrate how one well-developed, technically strong measurement system, curriculum-based measurement (CBM), can be used to establish academic growth standards for students with learning disabilities. For this article, the illustration is conducted in the area of reading. First, an introduction to CBM is provided and the basic concepts underlying the use of CBM in establishing growth standards are examined. Then, using an existing database accumulated over various localities under typical instructional conditions, an illustration of how CBM can be used to provide growth standards is provided. Next, these normative growth rates under typical instructional conditions are contrasted with estimates of CBM growth rates derived from studies of effective practices. Finally, based on these two data sets, issues are discussed and conclusions drawn about appropriate methods for establishing academic growth rates using CBM.

Basic Concepts Underlying Use of CBM in Establishing Growth Standards

CBM is a set of methods for indexing academic competence and progress. The developers of CBM (see Deno, 1985) sought to establish a measurement system that (a) teachers could use efficiently; (b) would produce accurate, meaningful information with which to index standing and growth; (c) could answer questions about the effectiveness of programs in producing academic growth; and (d) would provide information that helped teachers plan better instructional programs. To accomplish this goal, a systematic program of research, conceptualized as a 3 X 3 matrix (see Deno & Fuchs, 1987), was undertaken. The rows in this matrix specified three questions for developing a measurement system (what to measure, how to measure, and how to use the resulting database); the columns provided three criteria against which answers to those questions could be formulated (technical adequacy, treatment validity, and feasibility). A 20-year research program has addressed each cell in this matrix with multiple studies for four academic domains: reading, spelling, mathematics, and written expression. …

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