What do you need to consider when selecting an academic progress monitoring tool?

Question: What do you need to consider when selecting an academic progress monitoring tool? 

Answer: Another point is that whatever progress monitoring measure you use, you have to be able to administer weekly. And for this, I want to encourage you to take a lot of time to look at the tools chart and decide which measure to use. And you may need additional information beyond that. Some progress monitoring systems are not designed to be administered every week. Some of them are designed to be measured every two weeks, and that is not frequent enough for the purposes of measuring intensive intervention. So look carefully to make sure that the assessment can be administered very often. Also check to find out how long it takes to administer. Some progress monitoring assessments only take a few minutes, some of them can take up to twenty minutes, and if they take a long time it is going to be problematic in terms of doing weekly measurements.  So make sure you select one that takes a reasonable amount of time.

Another point about choosing a measure is to make sure that whatever measure you choose it has reliability and validity data.  One popular system for collecting data on oral reading fluency is the running record. Teachers College running records are a formal system for examining students reading fluency but also comes with comprehension questions to support the fluency data. The running records can provide important and useful diagnostic data both because they include a way to analyze students’ errors and because they have a set of comprehension questions that go with them, but they are not data you can use for progress monitoring. One reason you can’t use running records as progress monitoring data is that even the formal running records haven’t been equated. In other words, the developers of the running records haven’t verified that every, let’s say level C passage, is exactly the same in terms of difficulty by administering it to a large group of students and ensuring that students get the same or a similar score on every form C that is created. So it is hard to know if you give students a C if another C is going to be the same level. Another reason that running records can’t be used for progress monitoring is because they are not what we call equal interval data. The distance say, between a level B and a Level C may not be the same as the distance between a level C and a level D. In other words, we can’t say that going from A, to B, to C, to D, E shows a real slope of improvement. A to B might show a lot of improvement and B to C, very little, and C to D more and so those don’t allow us to say that a student is making improvement in a sort of linear way. And when we look at students’ improvement and grade levels, we absolutely want to be able to say that the change from one to another is sort of a continuous change. Certainly students are getting better when they go from a B to a C, or a D to an E, or whatever it is, and that’s great and those are good diagnostic data to show a student is making improvement, but they are not progress monitoring.If you are collecting running records data for the purpose of diagnosing students’ problem, you should continue to do that, but in addition you must collect data using a valid and reliable progress monitoring system. And unfortunately, running records don’t meet those criteria. There are not norms for the running records and there are not data to show their validity.  So it is critical that you use something like, any of the measures that have reliability and validity data on the tools chart. Click here to view the academic progress monitoring tools chart

Developed By: 
National Center on Intensive Intervention