Progress monitoring is the practice of assessing students' academic performance as they work to meet progress goals. Progress monitoring requires instructors to identify progress goals, determine students' current levels of performance, and work out how quickly students must progress to meet these goals within a set period of time, usually by the end of the school year. Each student's academic performance is evaluated on a regular basis, whether it be weekly, biweekly, or monthly. Student progress toward the achievement of a predetermined academic goal is assessed and compared to the expected rate of learning.
Keywords Assessment; Curriculum-Based Measurement; High-Stakes Testing; Individualized Education Program (IEP); Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); Learning Styles; No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB); Progress Monitoring; Standardized Testing
Progress monitoring is the practice of assessing students' academic performance as they work to meet progress goals. Progress monitoring requires instructors to identify progress goals, determine students' current levels of performance, and work out how quickly students must progress to meet these goals within a set period of time, usually by the end of the school year. Each student's academic performance is measured on a regular basis-weekly, biweekly, or monthly - and student progress toward meeting the academic goal is measured by comparing the actual rate of learning with the expected rate of learning. If actual progress is lagging behind expected progress, instruction should be adjusted to give students the best opportunity to meet their goals (National Center on Student Progress Monitoring, n.d.).
Student progress monitoring is a fairly simple process. First, instructors identify the curriculum material they expect students to master over the school year. Instructors then use the identified material to develop or select appropriate, curriculum-based measurement assessments, which are also called 'probes.' Then instructors assess students frequently-once a week is recommended. Finally, student scores are charted on a graph, and instructors base educational decisions on the data culled from each probe (Hosp & Hosp, 2003).
Progress monitoring can be used for many instructional decisions. They include:
• Monitoring student growth within an instructional program (Fuchs & Fuchs, 1991; Fuchs, Fuchs & Hamlett, 1990; Marston, Diment, Allen & Allen, 1992, as cited in Hosp & Hosp, 2003),
• Creating instructional groups (Fuchs, Fuchs, Bishop & Hamlett, 1992; Wesson, 1992; Wesson, Vierthaler & Haubrich; 1989, as cited in Hosp & Hosp, 2003),
• Identifying skill deficits (Fuchs, Fuchs, Hamlett & Allinder, 1991; Fuchs, Fuchs, Hamlett & Stecker, 1990; Whinnery & Stecker, 1992, as cited in Hosp & Hosp, 2003),
• Screening at-risk students (Self, Benning, Marston & Magnusson, 1991; Speece & Case, 2001, as cited in Hosp & Hosp, 2003),
• Aiding in eligibility decisions for students (Fuchs & Fuchs, 1997; Shinn & Habedank, 1992; Shinn & Hubbard, 1992, as cited in Hosp & Hosp, 2003), and
• Evaluating placement in special education or reintegrating students into regular education programs (Fuchs, Fernstrom, Reeder, Bowers & Gilman, 1992; Marston, 1987-1988; Shinn, Powell-Smith, Good & Baker, 1997, as cited in Hosp & Hosp, 2003).
The information provided by progress monitoring can help students learn faster and make instruction more effective as teachers make decisions about the types of instruction that may work best with each student's learning style. With weekly assessments, instructors can learn quickly which methods are and are not effective. Student progress monitoring can be used with one student at a time or with a group of students as a whole. Progress monitoring also works well with students who have an individualized education program (IEP) plan; instructors can work with curriculum goals and state standards to develop each student's individual goals. These individuals goals can be easily measured and tracked with curriculum-based measurements that break down the goals into smaller, measurable steps that are assessed weekly (McLane, n.d.).
For example, one student's goal might be to be able to read a certain number of words per minute by the end of the school year. Once the probes have been administered and a baseline set, instruction begins. Every week during the course of instruction, the student's reading abilities are measured to determine the amount of progress made toward his or her goal. Since all the tests have the same level of difficulty, the weekly assessments should accurately reflect the student's rate of progress, meaning that the instructor can compare the actual rate of learning against the expected rate. If the student is meeting or exceeding expectations, then the instructor should continue with his or her instructional methods. If student performance does not meet expectations, however, then the instructor needs to change instruction. Some trial and error is inevitable, because several variables can influence student progress. Instructional methods, the amount of time allotted to improving a skill, and class groupings can all influence progress. Therefore, instructors need to use their best judgment and keep adjusting instructional methods until they find the right mixture that enables student to reach expected rates of progress (McLane, n.d.).
Curriculum-based measurement, the most widely known method of progress monitoring, was developed in the late 1970s as a way to screen at risk students who and students with learning disabilities. With the increased focus on accountably and adequate yearly progress brought about with the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the IDEA Act of 1997 and 1999, curriculum-based measurement has come to the forefront again as way to meet some requirements of these acts (Hosp & Hosp, 2003).
For student progress monitoring to work, instructors need quick, reliable assessments that are available in multiple formats and easy to administer and score. Curriculum-based measurement is a good option for progress monitoring because the assessments are easy to administer and score and have good reliability and validity (Marston, 1989; Shinn, Good, Knutson, Tilly & Collins, 1992, as cited in Hosp & Hosp, 2003). Curriculum-based measurement also generally takes less than five minutes to administer and has many different forms, so students are never made to repeat identical assessments.
Curriculum-based measurement is a “set of procedures to assess student progress toward long-term goals in reading, spelling, written expression, and mathematics. It is an objective, ongoing system to measure student oucomes in order to evaluate the effectiveness of instructional interventions and student progress toward annual curriculum goals” (Deno, 1985, as cited in Hosp & Hosp, 2003, ¶ 5). Since curriculum-based measurement is intended for long-term use, instructors are able to adjust their teaching practices accordingly to address their students' needs. Studies have shown that the students of instructors who use curriculum-based measurement to direct instruction achieve higher grades than those with instructors who do not (Fuchs & Fuchs, 1986; Fuchs, Butterworth & Fuchs, 1989, as cited in Hosp & Hosp, 2003). Additionally, the results produced by curriculum-based measurement can be graphed, meaning that instructors can easily track each student's progress. These graphs provide parents with strong illustrations of their child's progress toward stated goals.
Reading, spelling, and mathematics - the core areas that students need to master for future academic success - tend to be the focus of most curriculum-based measurements. The following describes how curriculum-based measurement for subject works:
Two types of measurement can be used in a curriculum-based measurement of reading. One type requires students to read a passage with approximately every seventh word deleted for 2.5 minutes. The student must select one of three words to replace the missing word in order to restore...
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