By: Jessie Kember, Ph.D.
Progress monitoring occurs after universal screening within a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) framework (Tiers 2 and 3). Progress monitoring involves the frequent assessment (i.e., weekly or bi-weekly) of those students identified through universal screening as needing additional instruction, intervention, and support. The purpose of progress monitoring is to determine whether this additional instruction is improving student performance toward a specific learning goal, whether related to reading, math, socioemotional learning, behavior, or another school-relevant domain. Progress monitoring allows for quick and frequent assessment of a student’s academic performance, measurement of that student’s rate of improvement, and evaluation of the student’s rate of improvement to determine the effectiveness of instruction or intervention.
The FastBridge Learning suite includes a number of tools available for progress monitoring purposes, including the following reading measures: earlyReading (English and Spanish), CBMreading (English and Spanish), and two Lab measures, COMPefficiency, AUTOreading. The available math measures include earlyMath, CBMmath Automaticity, CBMmath-Concepts and Applications, and CBMmath-Process. There is one progress measure for behavior: Direct Behavior Rating (DBR). These tools provide teachers with a better understanding of a student’s response to intervention, while providing feedback and support to adjust instruction and intervention as needed so that student learning outcomes are reached more quickly.
Creating Progress Monitoring Groups
When reviewing student screening data to identify which students need additional instruction and intervention, the FastBridge system uses two primary symbols to indicate which students might be at risk for not meeting end-of-year benchmark goals:
- ! some risk
- !! high risk
Using these symbols, along with other sources of data and information, can assist school teams in creating and organizing groups of students with similar skill sets and similar levels of performance. More specifically, those students at some risk (!) are closer to meeting the benchmark goal and can often times meet the end-of-year benchmark goal with a less intensive intervention. Those students at high risk (!!) may need more intensive intervention. These symbols are one piece of information that provide educators with support in determining the intensity and content of instruction and intervention tailored to each progress monitoring group that is created.
Modifying Progress Monitoring Groups
Once progress monitoring groups have been created, it is important to determine: are these groups working? Or, do adjustments need to be made? After creating progress monitoring groups, it is important to examine the performance of these groups, as well as the performance of individual students in each group, to determine whether to continue the intervention, to discontinue the intervention, or to modify the intervention. Just as decisions are made regarding the intervention delivery, decisions also need to be made regarding organization of students into intervention groups. While it is important to determine whether growth is occurring in your progress monitoring groups, it is also important to consider whether adjustments can be made in order for greater gains to be made. Each progress monitoring group is characterized by the instruction that they receive. Students in each progress monitoring group, although they started the intervention at similar levels of performance, may have different rates of improvement when provided with the same intervention and support. In other words, the instruction and intervention may be working for some students, while other students may show less growth. This is a scenario in which progress monitoring groups can be reorganized to better benefit the students receiving instruction and intervention.
A student showing a large rate of improvement while receiving intervention could need to be moved from one progress monitoring group, and re-assigned to another progress monitoring group. Similarly, a student showing a smaller rate of improvement may also need to be reassigned to benefit both the progress monitoring group, as well as the individual student within each progress monitoring group. It is important to remember than once students are organized into progress monitoring groups, this assignment is not permanent. Progress monitoring and intervention groups can and should be reorganized as students make progress at different rates. These decisions should be informed by multiple sources of information, including the stability of scores, level of scores, accuracy, and the trend over time.
When to Consider Reorganizing Progress Monitoring Groups
As mentioned previously, there may be instances when it is appropriate for intervention or progress monitoring groups to be modified. Before reorganizing groups, it is important to collect enough data to make a decision regarding whether the intervention is, or is not, effective for a particular student, and subsequently, whether the students are organized appropriately. An important step in reviewing student data and considering new groups is whether there are sufficient data points to make decisions regarding instruction or intervention. Research suggests that it is important to have at least nine (i.e., nine weeks of intervention data) to twelve data points before making any changes to existing interventions and progress monitoring groups. Making changes to instruction too soon will make it difficult to determine whether a particular intervention (or the organization of the group) is effectively targeting the student’s needs. Regardless of the criteria used, it is important to select a decision-making rule and to consistently use this rule.
For example, when collecting data through progress monitoring, if a student’s most recent data points are all below the goal line, this may be an indication that a change needs to be made in the instruction/intervention being delivered. If all data points fall above the goal line, perhaps the goal line should be increased. Finally, if some points fall above the goal line, and some fall below, this may be a scenario for which you continue with instruction/intervention, and placement of students in groups will remain the same. It is important to review intervention data on a regular basis. For example, it is recommended that data be reviewed at least monthly to make informed decisions regarding intervention content and group organization.
Reorganizing Progress Monitoring Groups
From the Progress Monitoring navigation tab, users can access their academic and behavior progress monitoring groups. Current progress monitoring groups will display on the left vertical menu. Click on one of the group names to view the students in the group. Here is an example:
To reorganize the group you can click on either Release Students or Edit Group. The Release Students button will remove a student from the group. To do this, click on the button to the left of the student’s name and then click on Release Students. Once a student is released, he or she can be assigned to a new progress monitoring group.
If changes are needed in relation to the interventions or goals for students in the current group, click on Edit Group. This will open the progress monitoring setup screen and the details for all or selected students can be changed. For example, specific interventions or student goals can be adjusted. To make such changes, click on the specific item in the student’s schedule. Here is an example:
Notice that Emily Brown is participating in a different intervention than the other students in the group. Also notice that all of the students have different goals. Students in a progress monitoring group can have different interventions and goals, but must all be monitored with the same progress measure. For more information on progress monitoring, visit the following FAST Insight blogs:
Thornblad, S.C., & Christ, T.J. (2014). Curriculum-based measurement of reading: Is 6 weeks of daily progress monitoring enough? School Psychology Review, 19-29.