Saturday, October 22, 2011

Curriculum-Based Measurement

Curriculum-based measurement (CBM) is a simple, quick, and practical type of assessment done through brief, timed exercises, which last between one and five minutes. CBM is the generic term for these assessments; some specific names are NWEA and DIBELS. Different schools use different programs, and the state of Indiana pays for Indiana schools to use DIBELS. CBMs identify the existence of a problem; they do not identify what a problem is. Once teachers know a problem exists, they are able to do more assessments to figure out what the problem is and how it should be addressed. Assessments are used frequently and repeatedly to monitor progress, especially for those students who are found to be struggling in some area. Using this process on the whole class allows teachers to see where students lie in the tiers for RTI. CBMs for a whole class can be done in a very short time because they last about a minute, and a teacher can easily assess many students in a row.

A simple way to think of curriculum-based measurement is to compare it to taking temperature with a thermometer. This quick assessment tells us whether or not there is a "fever," or a problem with a child's literacy skills. If there is a problem, teachers will plan interventions to help the child improve on the specific skill. In the temperature analogy, the higher the fever, the more often a parent or doctor would check to see if the fever has gone down. Similarly, the more intense the literacy problem, the more frequently the teacher would reassess with CBMs, until the problem has been resolved.

An example of a curriculum-based measurement for reading fluency is having a student read a passage out loud for one minute, keeping track of correctly and incorrectly read words. At the end of the minute, the teacher can quickly see how many words a child read correctly in one minute. During this time, they also observe the child's intonation and smoothness of reading.

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