A Parent’s Guide to Progress Monitoring at Home
With increasing frequency, schools across the country are using a Response-to-Intervention (RTI) or multi-tiered system of instructional support. These instructional approaches rely on the use of progress monitoring tools to determine whether children are making adequate progress. Progress monitoring allows us to determine much sooner which children are at risk for not meeting grade-level targets, allows us to determine whether children receiving intervention support are making adequate progress, and allows us to more closely match the instructional support to the needs of the individual child based on his response.
It is important for you to understand the essential components of the instructional approach used by your child’s school and the roles they can play in supporting your child’s success. One critical component is how the school will monitor your child’s progress. Progress monitoring is a process that is used to help determine whether a student is responding to the instructional program, whether that student may need more intensive interventions, or whether that student should be referred for a comprehensive evaluation to determine the presence of an LD.
Progress monitoring is typically conducted by the classroom teacher. Depending on the school’s requirements and the student’s needs, a teacher might monitor progress weekly, every other week, or monthly. Progress monitoring results are most often used to guide instruction in the class. If a child is not making much progress, that is an indication that something about the instruction may need some adjustment to better meet that student’s needs. Ideally, teachers will communicate with parents about their child’s progress and provide recommendations for how parents can support their child’s progress at home.
In some cases, parents might consider using progress monitoring tools at home. For example, you might:
- Have concerns about the methods for testing and monitoring progress in use at your child’s school.
- Not get regular reports from school.
- Want to be more involved in monitoring your child’s progress.
- Need information about your child’s progress if you have concerns but there’s no formal IEP or 504 plan in place.
- Progress monitor over the summer or winter breaks to help your child stay on track with the progress they’ve made during the school year.
If you have these concerns or others, understanding how progress monitoring works will be very helpful in supporting your child. In this guide, you’ll learn what progress monitoring tells you about your child’s progress, and how to begin progress monitoring in reading.
What Does Progress Monitoring Tell Us?
The reading progress monitoring tool described in this article is what is called a General Outcome Measure (GOM). Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) is a general outcome measure that gives a good indication of a child’s general reading ability. General outcome measures are different than a classroom test — classroom tests generally tell us whether a child has learned something the teacher just taught. General outcome measures are like medical screenings — temperature, pulse, and blood pressure give us overall indications of a person’s health. Similarly, a General Outcome Measure gives us an overall indication of a student’s growth and performance in reading.
In reading, progress monitoring measures are created by taking a variety of reading passages — both fiction and non-fiction, and alternating the passages used each week to measure a child’s oral reading fluency. Because the passages are of equal difficulty, we can compare a child’s performance on one measure to the next. This is what allows us to monitor growth in reading performance in a meaningful way.
Performance on oral reading fluency measures is typically compared to national norms. National norms are simply a collection of performances from thousands of students at a particular grade level that are then rank ordered and put onto the normal distribution. Usually, the performance of students falling at the average, or 50thpercentile, is used as the target performance level for students receiving intervention.