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

Page 3: Determining the Appropriate Type and Level of CBM Probes (Step 1)—Students Not Reading at Grade Level

With some adjustment, CBM probes can be used to assess and monitor the reading progress of all students, including those not currently reading at grade level. To determine the appropriate probe with which to monitor a student’s progress throughout the school year, teachers need to follow a number of guidelines.

Assessment Guidelines

Passage Reading Fluency (PRF) probes address the widest range of grade levels and can be administered to students in grades 1.5 through 6, both to assess their reading skills and to determine which probes are best to monitor their progress. In order to determine the appropriate probe to monitor a student’s progress:

  1. Administer PRF probes. Students are asked to read three passages, each for one minute, at the grade level at which you expect the student to read competently by the end of the year. (Note: This may not be the student’s current grade level.)
  2. Select the student’s median score on the three passages. Use the chart below to identify the appropriate grade-level probe. Teachers may have to continue to administer probes at higher and lower levels until the correct grade-level probe is identified.
Words Correct in One Minute Placement Decision for Monitoring Progress
<10 Student reading at a basic level; use the Word Identification Fluency Task (i.e., reading sight words).
10-50 Move to next lower grade level of text and re-assess.
>50 Move to next higher grade level of text (but not higher than the student’s grade level) and re-assess until student scores between 10 and 50.
  1. Monitor the student’s progress using probes at the determined grade level throughout the entire school year.

Ms. Begay was not quite sure of her students’ ability levels. She expected Louisa and Luke to read competently at the fourth-grade level by the end of the year, so she decided to administer the fourth-grade PRF probe. However, because Ms. Begay was not sure that José would be able to read at the fourth-grade level by the end of the school year, she decided to administer the third-grade PRF to him.

Ms. Begay gave each student three PRF probes. She then calculated the median score of the three probes for each student and followed the placement guidelines outlined above. Each students’ scores are in the table below. Their median scores are circled.

fluency chart

JoséJosé’s Results

José’s median score was nine words read correctly in one minute, and he was clearly frustrated. Ms. Begay followed the guidelines for students who read fewer than 10 words per minute and will monitor José’s progress using Word Identification Fluency probes.


LouisaLouisa’s Results

Louisa’s median score was 25 words read correctly in one minute using fourth-grade PRF probes. Ms. Begay followed the guidelines, moving to the next lower grade level of text. She administered three third-grade PRF probes to Louisa. Louisa’s median score on these probes was 55 words read correctly, and so Ms. Begay will monitor Louisa’s progress using third-grade PRF probes.


Luke’s Results

Luke’s median score on the three fourth-grade PRF probes was 88 words read correctly in one minute. According to the assessment guidelines, this score indicates that Luke’s progress should be assessed using the next level of reading probes (i.e., fifth-grade probes). However, because the guidelines also state that a student shouldnot be assessed with progress monitoring probes above his or her grade level, Ms. Begay will use fourth-grade probes to monitor Luke’s progress. In addition, she decides to use Maze Fluency probes instead of PRF probes with Luke because students complete Maze Fluency probes independently making it quicker and easier for teachers to administer. Using fourth-grade probes will enable Ms. Begay to evaluate Luke’s progress relative to other fourth graders, regardless of the grade-level text he is reading. In fact, Ms. Begay will encourage Luke to read higher grade-level material.

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