What Can I Do to Make Sure My Child Receives the Benefits of CBM?
by Kathleen McLane
Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM) is used to monitor the progress of students toward achievement of annual academic goals. Teachers administer brief tests (1-5 minutes), generally each week, which reflect the skills the student is expected to achieve by the end of the year. CBM provides teachers with easy-to-use evaluation procedures that allow them to graph a student’s progress. CBM also enables the teacher to find out quickly when a change in instruction is needed in order to help the student progress at the rate needed to succeed.
As a parent, there are a number of steps you can take to make sure your child realizes the benefits of CBM. The first is to familiarize yourself with CBM. For a quick introduction, please review the other parent materials in the families section of this website). When you feel you have a basic understanding of CBM – what it is and how it works – you are ready to take action.
If CBM Is Not Currently Implemented
If CBM is not currently in use in your child’s class, you may need to advocate for CBM to be adopted by the teacher. One way to do this is to start by bringing information resources to the teacher, discussing the information, and encouraging the teacher to learn more about CBM and to consider adopting it.
The fact sheets on CBM provided on this website are designed specifically for this purpose. At the same time, also consider suggesting that teachers and principals refer to the NCSPM website to discover for themselves the numerous student progress monitoring resources available, including implementation strategies.
Whenever you go to any school meeting on academic matters, take copies of the parent materials from this website and distribute them at the meeting, including to teachers, administrators, and other parents. In addition, you may need to follow up with your child’s teacher and the principal to find out what would be involved, from their perspective, in adopting CBM. Find out whom in your child’s school would be responsible for making the decision to use CBM, and then talk to those individuals. Learn if there are any barriers, in their view, to using CBM and if there are, then you can help the decision-makers by providing the information they need.
Simple Steps to Take
- Give informational handouts to teachers, principals and other parents.
- Talk to the teacher and administrators about the advantages of CBM; get their views!
- Find out what would be involved in implementing CBM in your child’s classes. Work with the school to make the necessary changes.
- Refer school personnel to this website http://www.studentprogress.org for more information, and check the website regularly for new and updated information.
Once CBM Is Adopted
Once CBM is adopted in your child’s class, or if it is already in use, then you do not have the task of persuading the school of CBM’s value. However, there are a number of other things parents can do to make sure their children flourish with the use of CBM:
- Review all graphs and other materials sent home as soon as you receive them. Your child’s teacher will probably send home a report on a regular basis – not necessarily every week, but regularly.
- If you do not receive the graphs or other CBM reports as often as the school said you would, then ask for them. In addition, you should obtain a copy of the most recent graph before any meeting on academic matters with the teacher.
- Develop and maintain an at-home file for all of your child’s CBM graphs for handy referral throughout the school year, and refer to them when IEP progress reports are sent home.
- Ask the teacher questions about anything in the graph or other material that is unclear to you. Keep asking until all your questions are answered. It does not reflect negatively on you to need an explanation about either the material or the process.
- Take copies of the graphs to any meetings with school personnel on any academic matter. This includes IEP meetings. Present the graphs and explain them to anyone at the meeting who is unfamiliar with them. In addition, giving a brief presentation on the graph and the CBM process at a Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) meeting can be an effective way of sharing the information with other parents.
- Whenever you receive a copy of the graph or other report of CBM results, review it carefully and compare it to previous reports. When you see a change, ask the teacher what it means, if anything, and what should be done about it. If, or when, the teacher makes a change in the way s/he is teaching your child, ask for an explanation of the change and the reason(s) it is expected to improve your child’s scores.
- When parents reinforce learning at home, it makes a difference in how well children learn. Ask the teacher to recommend activities that you can do with your child at home that are likely to help reinforce what the child is learning and to help improve your child’s achievement. For example, reading with your child at home has been shown to improve reading skills.
- Toward the end of the school year, ask the teacher for recommendations for next year. If possible, ask the teacher to include information about your child’s learning style and what seems to motivate or hinder your child’s learning.
- At the beginning of the following school year, bring the CBM graphs from the previous academic year to your initial meeting with the new teacher and to the IEP team meeting. In this way, you can give the new teacher specific and accurate information about your child’s skills and rate of learning.
- Find out from your child’s teacher or principal how the CBM goals relate to any statewide tests your child will be taking during the current academic year.
Thank you to the staff of the Parent Education Advocacy Training Center (PETAC) for their input on this paper. In particular Cheri Takemoto and Bonnie Davis provided invaluable advice.
To view this paper in Spanish, please click here.