How can teachers determine whether students are making appropriate progress?
Page 3: Select a Measure
The first step in the progress monitoring process is to select a measure. Recall that these measures should include sample items for all skills across the entire academic year. Often, the mathematics program selected by the school or district will include grade-level progress monitoring measures. In other instances, specific GOM measures might be chosen by school, district, or state administrators. This is typically the case when a school is using an MTSS or RTI framework for instruction. Teachers can also decide independently to use GOM measures to monitor student progress and make instructional decisions. Regardless of who is making the choice, it’s important to keep several factors in mind when selecting a GOM measure:
- Does it align with the grade-level mathematics skills?
- Is the measure reliable and valid?
- Does the measure have sufficient alternate versions?
- Is the measure relatively quick (e.g., two to ten minutes) and easy to administer?
- Is the measure designed to be administered to individual students or to groups? (Group-administered tests are often more convenient than individually administered ones.)
- Are versions of the test available in languages other than English?
For the earlier grade levels (e.g., kindergarten, 1st grade), teachers will most likely need to assess early numeracy skills, such as number identification. However, for students who have mastered these basic skills, the teacher should administer two types of mathematics probes: computation probes and concepts and applications probes. Click on the links below to view samples of each.
|Computation Probe||Concepts and Applications Probe*|
|Measures students’ procedural knowledge (e.g., ability to add fractions).||Assesses conceptual understanding of mathematics or students’ ability to apply mathematics knowledge (e.g., to make change from a purchase).|
The sample secondary computation probe below is designed to assess students’ basic algebraic skills. Note that a normal probe would contain 60 questions and allow students five minutes to complete them.This 30-item example, which is the first of a two-page probe, is presented here for the sake of brevity and illustrative purposes.
Project AAIMS. (2014). Project AAIMS algebra progress monitoring measures [Algebra Basic Skills, Algebra Foundations]. Ames, IA: Iowa State University, College of Human Sciences, School of Education, Project AAIMS.
* No valid middle or high school concepts and applications probes are available at this time.
For Your Information
Though a variety of GOM measures are commercially available in mathematics for grades K through 12, tests for secondary students are limited. These standardized measures typically include the tests, administration procedures, and scoring guides that have been developed to produce reliable and valid scores. Additionally, student benchmarks and expected rate of improvement (ROI) are often provided by the developer.
The National Center on Intensive Intervention (NCII) provides a tools chart that presents information about commercially available progress monitoring probes that have been reviewed by a panel of experts and rated on key features. Click here to use this tools chart.
For information specifically about algebra measures see the project AAIMS Website:
There is a lack of available validated measures to assess the mathematics skills of high school students. This is especially true of measures that assess students’ conceptual understanding. David Allsopp discusses an option for assessing this type of understanding (time: 1:56).
David Allsopp, PhD
Assistant Dean for Education and Partnerships
University of South Florida
Selecting Measures for Struggling Students
Sam is a 4th-grade student.
- Sam was performing at the 2nd-grade level at the end of last year.
- The teacher administers a 2nd-grade math probe. Sam’s average on the two probes is 12.
- The teacher will administer 2nd-grade probes for the year.
Grade-level GOM measures are appropriate for typically achieving students as well as for many who are struggling. However, these measures might not be appropriate for students who are consistently not performing at grade level. These students might require a measure designed for a different grade level. Sometimes, commercially available measures include directions on selecting an appropriate grade-level probe for these students. If they do not, however, teachers can use the following procedure:
- Identify the grade level at which the student was performing at the end of the prior academic year.
- On two separate days, administer a GOM test at the grade level at which the student was performing at the end of the previous year.
- If the average of the two scores is less than 10, then use probes one grade level below where the student was performing at the end of the prior year.
- If the average of the two scores is between 10 and 15, use probes at this grade level.
- If the average of the two scores is greater than 15, use probes one grade level above where the student was performing at the end of the previous year.
- Maintain the appropriate grade-level probes for the entire year.