Curriculum-Based Assessment: Definition & Examples

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Special Education and Ecological Assessments

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:03 What Is Curriculum…
  • 0:53 The Process of CBM
  • 3:41 Using CBM Data
  • 4:56 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed Audio mode

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Derek Hughes

Derek has a Masters of Science degree in Teaching, Learning & Curriculum.

Curriculum-based assessment, also called curriculum-based measurement (CBM), is a powerful tool for testing and measuring student progress. This lesson introduces you to CBM and provides examples of the assessments you can use.

What Is Curriculum-Based Assessment?

Think back to when you were a student in elementary school. You probably remember having tests every few weeks after you completed a unit in math, reading, science, or social studies. These tests would determine how successfully you learned the material from those units, and your score would go home to your parents. Then all of these scores would be averaged, and you'd receive a report card.

These kinds of tests can be useful for capping off a unit, but they fall short in showing changes in student progress. This is where curriculum-based assessment also known as curriculum-based measurement (or CBM) comes into play. CBM is the repeated, direct assessment of targeted skills in basic areas, such as math, reading, writing, and spelling, using materials taken directly from the teaching curriculum.

The Process of CBM

To understand how curriculum-based assessment works, lets consider the case of Mr. Smith, a third grade reading teacher. He has been using CBM in his classroom for several years and has found that it gives him a much clearer picture of student progress than previous methods. He still gives unit tests, projects, and quizzes. These types of assessments still have a place in the classroom and can provide additional information on the progress of each student.

But Mr. Smith uses CBM to more closely monitor his students' short term progress on specific, basic skills. He creates probes, or short activities or sets of questions that target a specific skill, which assesses students' progress. These probes are taken directly from curriculum materials and created by the classroom teacher, instead of from an outside company.

In his reading class, Mr. Smith uses several methods of CBM that are supported by research. For example, to test fluency, Mr. Smith randomly chooses short passages from a reading book in the curriculum. He then sits and has students come up one by one and read 3 passages, each for one minute. While the students are reading, Mr. Smith is marking mistakes the student makes on his own copy of the passages.

After a student reads from the passages, he calculates his or her score by finding out how many words the student read correctly from each passage and finds the middle score. He considers this the student's true score. Mr. Smith can then compare this score to previous scores by placing them on a graph, which gives a clear picture of the student's fluency development.

This is just one way teachers can use CBM in the classroom. It can also be used with math skills, spelling, and writing. The important thing is to ensure that probes are created using materials from the curriculum and administered exactly the same to every student.

For example, if you were teaching second grade math, you might use CBM to monitor progress on math fact automaticity. To do this, you could create a worksheet with a sampling of math facts. Every week, hand out the worksheet to students and give them three minutes to complete as many facts as possible.

After the three minutes are up, you could either collect the worksheets or have students check each other's work, determining how many facts they solved correctly. Students can then chart their own progress on a graph. This may be especially useful because it gives the class extra incentive to work on memorizing math facts, so they can see their graph go up.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account