How should Ms. Begay assess her students’ reading levels and progress?

Page 2: Determining the Appropriate Type and Level of CBM Probes (Step 1)—Students Performing at Grade Level

Teacher and thought bubble: Reading rate, vocabulary, sight words, comprehension.

CBM probes assess key reading behaviors such as fluency and word identification. The probes listed below can be used to both assess a student’s current reading skills and to monitor a student’s reading growth across the academic year. Teachers can use these probes to determine whether a student will be a proficient reader and whether she or he will achieve subsequent reading benchmarks.

The first step in implementing CBM is to decide which reading probe (or measure) is developmentally appropriate for students. Below is a list of CBM measures listed by grade level for students who are developing at a typical rate in reading. (See the next page for guidelines on choosing the appropriate probe for students who are not reading at grade level.) These measures can be used to monitor students’ reading progress across the year. Click on each measure to see an example of a corresponding probe.

Reading Measures


Letter Sound Fluency – Teacher Score Sheet

Teacher: I’m going to show you some letters. You can tell me what sound the letters make. You may know the sound for some letters. For other letters, you may not know the sounds. If you don’t know the sound a letter makes, don’t worry. Okay? What’s most important is that you try your best. I’ll show you how this activity works. My turn first. (Refer to the practice portion of the CBM LSF sheet.) This says /b/. Your turn now. What sound does it say? Student: /b/ Examiner: Very good. You told me what sound the letter makes. You’re doing a really good job. Now it will be just your turn. Go as quickly and carefully as you can. Remember to tell me the sounds the letters make. Remember just try your best. If you don’t know the sounds it’s okay.

Trigger the stopwatch.

score sheet
Letter Sound Fluency – Student Copy
letter sound fluency

Source: Fuchs, Fuchs, & Powell (2004).

View Description

The student is given a sheet of randomized letters and asked to say as many sounds corresponding to the letters as possible in one minute. This test must be administered to each child individually. Choose this assessment if you are interested in measuring students’ progress toward decoding.

First Grade

Word Identification Fluency – Teacher Score Sheet

Teacher: When I say “Go,” I want you to read these words as quickly and correctly as you can. Start here (point to the first word) and go down the page (run your finger down the first column). If you don’t know a word, skip it and try the next word. Keep reading until I say “stop.” Do you have any questions? Trigger the stopwatch for 1 minute.

Student’s Name _____________________ Examiner’s Initials ________
Student’s Teacher ____________________ Date ____________

Score 1 for a correct response, 0 for an incorrect response.

that school brought
for say line
by land probably
her enough close
up live table
them against strong
has city past
than knew friends
now state rest
water wanted having
must four full
me toward instead
come move case
still power worked
found feel alone
here given street
large eat
Total Score__________

Source: Fuchs, Fuchs, & Powell (2004).

The student is asked to read as many words as possible in one minute. Words are randomly selected from a list of the 500 most frequent sight words. This test must be administered to each child individually.

Mid-First Grade Through Sixth Grade

Passage Reading Fluency – Teacher Copy

Teacher: I want you to read this story to me. You’ll have one minute to read. When I say “begin,” start reading aloud at the top of the page. Do your best reading. If you have trouble with a word, I’ll tell it to you. Do you have any questions? Begin.
Trigger the time for 1 minute.

Summertime in the big city had always been hot, but this year it 13
seemed to be unbearable. The air was lifeless and the smells of the city 27
were multiplying until it began to remind Yolanda of one big dirty 39
clothes hamper. 41
Yolanda lived on the twelfth floor of a forty-story high-rise 53
apartment building, on the east side of the city near the river. The 66
apartment was too small for the five people in her family and much too 80
hot. Ma opened the windows in hopes of catching a breeze. Yolanda 92
and her sister Jackie offered to run to the store anytime Ma needed 105
something just so they could stand in a place that had air conditioning. 118
Yolanda was thirteen years old; too old to play on the kiddie 130
playground and too young to get a summer job. She spent most of the 144
time sitting on the front steps of the apartment building watching the 156
traffic go by. She and her friends sometimes played hopscotch. 166
One morning as Yolanda was watching TV she saw a 176
commercial that gave her an idea. It was a lemonade commercial. It 188
advertised that lemonade was cool and refreshing, just the drink to 199
quench a summer thirst. 203
Yolanda ran down to the corner store to buy some lemonade 214
supplies. She bought a package of paper cups for two dollars and two 227
pounds of lemons for 60 cents a pound. She also got a small bag of 241
sugar in case the lemons were too sour. She wanted to make the best 255
lemonade ever sold on East Street. 261
Yolanda made two gallons of lemonade, added two teaspoons of 271
sugar for taste, gathered the cups and ice, and went downstairs to set up 285
her lemonade stand. She set it up in front of the building and sold four 300
glasses in fifteen minutes. She charged 10 cents per cup so she had 312
only made 40 cents. 315
Then Yolanda’s friend Clare came by and offered to make signs 326
advertising Yolanda’s business. Clare took the signs and placed them 336
near the street. Around 5 o’clock a big traffic jam had stopped traffic 348
on East Street. Drivers were hot and angry, and Clare carried cups of 361
lemonade to them to calm them down. Some were so grateful that they 374
tossed dollars out of their windows. 380
By the end of the day, the two young businesswomen had made 392
$30. Yolanda split the profits with Clare, and they agreed to open the 404
stand at ten o’clock the next morning. 411
“I’ll bet we can make $50 tomorrow if we have another traffic 422
jam!” called Yolanda to Clare with a smile.
Total Score _____
Source: Fuchs, Fuchs, & Powell (2004).

The student reads a passage for one minute. The passage’s difficulty is based on the student’s expected end-of-year reading competence. The score is the number of words he or she read correctly per minute. This test must be administered to each student individually.

One of the most important CBM measures used with students in grades 1.5 – 6 is Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) also known as Passage Reading Fluency. This measure assesses how many words a student reads correctly per minute. In the challenge, Ms. Begay was concerned with having to assess so many different reading skills. Oral Reading Fluency has been shown to be a reliable measure of overall reading ability including comprehension.

Oral Reading Fluency is considered a good measure of reading ability.
Authors Findings
Fuchs, Fuchs, & Maxwell, 1988; Jenkins & Jewell, 1993 ORF is a good performance indicator of comprehension ability as well as general reading ability.
Deno, Mirkin, & Chiang, 1982 A higher correlation was found between oral reading tasks and standardized comprehension tests than between cloze comprehension measures (tasks that require the student to fill in the blank or cloze the given item) and standardized tests of comprehension.
Fuchs, Fuchs, & Maxwell, 1988 A higher correlation was found between oral reading scores and standardized tests of reading comprehension than between three informal measures of comprehension (question answering, written recall, and written cloze) and the standardized tests.

Fourth Grade Through Sixth Grade

Maze Fluency – Student Copy

Stuart had nice parents. They did not embarrass him in [glad/ front/ yellow] of his friends. His father did

[not/ ant/ soft] yell at him during his baseball [center/ games/ lines], and his mother never kissed him

[in/ tot/ put] front of his friends. He generally [liked/ flow/ jeep] his parents, except for the fact

[show/ went/ that] they were sending him to summer [bus/ dump/ camp] this year.


Stuart did not want [to/ wit/ cow] go to summer camp. The thought [and/ be/ of] it made him picture

himself hot [coat/ rest/ and] thirsty, hiking up a dusty trail. [Bit/ He/ Go] knew that summer camp food had

[of/ to/ my] be bad news, too. Besides, summer [camp/ free/ dog] was for people with nothing else

[fad/ to/ sew] do. He had plenty of things planned [for/ much/ very] his summer at home.


“Summer camp [will/ yes/ belt] be good for you,” said Mother. “[Feel/ And/ Lot] I don’t want to hear

another [catch/ phone/ word] about it!” Stuart moped around the [beat/ opens/ house] until it was time

to go. Mother [had/ with/ boy] packed his trunk full of clothes, [and/ sort/ time] she and Dad took Stuart

to [real/ glob/ the] bus station. Stuart tried hard not [to/ sun/ we] cry when he hugged them goodbye.

[Yet/ He/ Sat] ran onto the bus and buried [beam/ his/ neat] head in his hands. After a [while/ tall/ hate],

he looked out the window.

Source: Fuchs, Fuchs, & Powell (2004).

The student reads a passage for two-and-a-half minutes. In the passage, every seventh word has been deleted and three possible choices offered. The student circles the word that best fits the meaning of the phrase or sentence in the passage. The child’s score is the number of correct replacements he or she makes. That this test can be administered to a group makes the Maze Fluency probe easier to administer than the Passage Reading Fluency probe.

CBM reading tests, called probes, are easy to obtain and cost-effective.

Pre-packaged probes can be used with any reading curriculum and are available from many sources.

Company/Title Description Contact
AIMSweb/ Edformation Computer software which graphs and analyzes student scores.
Phone: 866-313-6194
DIBELS The DIBELS Data System allows teachers to enter students’ test scores and generates automated reports. The cost for this service is $1 per student, per year.
Edcheckup Online assessment system administers and scores tests. Reports and graphs are automatically generated that follow class and student progress. Guidelines for setting annual goals and evaluating student progress are provided.
Phone: 952-229-1440
7701 York Avenue South Suite 250
Edina, MN 55435
McGraw-Hill Yearly ProgressPro(TM) assesses students weekly via computer and graphs their scores, then makes instructional recommendations based on their scores.
Phone: 1-800-848-1567
ext. 4928
CBM Warehouse This site offers several free downloads to assist teachers with administering probes and graphing students’ data using computers.
Fuchs, L. S., & Fuchs, D., 2004

CBM reading probes can be created by teachers.

Although CBM passages are easy to obtain and cost-effective, it is also possible to make your own CBM reading probes.

Make Your Own Reading Probes
What you will need: Directions: Tips:
Student basal reader (e.g., Houghton Mifflin, Silver Burdett & Ginn)
  1. Divide the basal reader into three fairly even chunks from front to back; this will cover all skills from the beginning of the year to the end.
  2. Select an equal number of passages at random from each section to use as probes.
  3. Count the words in each passage. Passages should be long enough to ensure that a good reader won’t run out of words in a minute. Approximately 400 words is usually enough, but this may vary according to grade level.
  4. Make an examiner copy and a student copy of the passage.
  5. On the examiner copy, count the words on each line and put the total in the right margin so that you can easily score how many words a student gets correct.
  6. Organize all probes and other materials needed for administering them (graphing materials, stopwatch, pens and pencils, student folders, etc.) in one area of your classroom.
  • Passages should be prose and should not contain an abundance of dialogue, proper nouns, or foreign words.
  • Poetry and drama should be avoided.
  • Passages should be free of illustrations that may help students to decipher the content.

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