WHETHER THOU GOEST . . . PERSPECTIVES ON PROGRESS MONITORING
Stanley L. Deno University of Minnesota
It would be appropriate to begin this chapter with a historical examination of the approaches educators have used to monitor student growth, and, indeed, some attention is given to that issue here. Unfortunately, the history of education is relatively sketchy with respect to the approaches that teachers have used to monitor the progress of individual students within and across their years in school. Although we cannot be sure about why so little work seems to have been directed to developing progress monitoring systems, I believe the reason lies in the emphasis in American schools on making distinctions between individuals performing at a particular moment in time, rather than on making distinctions in performance within an individual from one occasion to the next. Indeed, even a cursory examination of textbooks on educational and psychological measurement reveals that the primary focus of psychometric methods has been on procedures for reliably establishing an individual's relative position within a group rather than describing changes in individual performance across time.
Why is that we should have emphasized the differences between individuals when assessing performance when improvement in performance by the individual would seem to be the primary concern of education? The answer to this question seems to be that in the United States, as in other countries, the primary function of assessment has been to provide information that could be used to sort individuals into groups for making selection decisions rather than to examine individual growth. If we think about the decisions toward which assessment has been directed we can readily iden-