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Using //CBM// for Progress Monitoring


Further to James' response, PM benchmark kits are a box of books, graded into levels of difficulty from 1 to 30. These levels correlate with the internationally recognised Reading Recovery levels, and are used on many books designed to teach children to read.(have a look at the back of some of the little reading books in an early Primary classroom - they often have a number level on them).

We would expect Pre-primary aged children to begin reading at about Level 1, and hope that our students are reading fluently and accurately at level 30 by about 12 years of age - this is adult level text complexity. You can find information about the expected ages for children to read each level with the kits – its useful baseline data as to where the child is at compared to their class peers and the expectations for same aged children around the world.

The idea for using these assessments is that a teacher will sit with a child as they read some of these books and take running records, recording every word the child says. These running records are then analysed for number and type of errors, as well as number and type of self corrections, plus the level of fluency and comprehension of the text.

This gives a great deal of qualitative information which informs planning for that individual child (what kids of mistakes they are making, which strategies they are strong or weak in etc) which inform detailed focussed explicit teaching for reading. (eg, you can find out if a particular child is looking at just the initial sounds of words and not decoding all the way through, or if they are disregarding information about the meaning of a text to focus on just decoding, if they are unclear about grammatical rules like possessive 's' etc etc!). Analysed properly, they are a rich source of detailed and really useful information.

PM benchmarks can also give more quantitative, standardised information about what level the child is reading at a point in time. The idea being that we use PM running records to find out at what level of difficulty a child can read with about 90 - 95% accuracy - this is known as their "instructional level". The teacher would use this information to select reading material for that child for home reading, and also for reading in class (this is usually how children are streamed into "reading groups" in lower primary). For example, if a child reads level 15 books with 98% accuracy, they would be considered a bit too easy - the child is practicing rather than learning. Level 18 books may be 84% accuracy for this child - too hard - too much time poring over mistakes to be fluent and comprehending the text. The teacher would present level 16 and 17 texts to this child, taking regular running records to assess their accuracy, use of reading strategies and comprehension. The idea being, regular running records on levelled texts informs the planning and teaching cycle, and as soon as the child is achieving over 95% accuracy on a particular level, the teacher presents a more difficult level to keep them working.

The child can then be re-assessed at a later point in the year to see:
1. What kind of mistakes and self corrections they are making now (ie – did the teaching work? What strategies need to be taught now?) 2. How much improvement have they made (how many levels have they gone up? What kind of text do I need to present to this child now?)

If PM running records are done regularly for the whole class, the teacher can get a moving average and see how many levels individual children, and the class as a whole have improved in the course of the year (supremely satisfying! Looks great on graphs!).

So, having used PM Benchmark assessment myself in teaching, I highly recommend them as both formative and summative assessment for teaching reading!

Best regards,

Jennifer Payne
School Psychologist
(Provisionally Registered)
Kimberley Region

The following article was posted by James Colvin