Types of Progress Monitoring in Special Education

Instructor: Linda Winfree

Linda has taught English at grades 6-12 and holds graduate degrees in curriculum and teacher leadership.

In this lesson, you'll learn about the various types of progress monitoring used in special education, including strategies for implementing and documenting progress monitoring.

Types of Progress Monitoring

As a special education teacher, you know that goals and objectives are an integral part of any individualized education program (IEP). But what is the best way to assess student progress toward these goals and objectives? Progress monitoring, a strategy for evaluating student growth through regular assessment checkpoints, is an excellent means of following your students' growth. Let's take a closer look at progress monitoring, including the types of progress monitoring, strategies for implementation, and effective ways to document progress.

Types of Progress Monitoring

Progress monitoring includes two basic types: mastery measurement and curriculum measurement. Mastery measurement is based on a curriculum scope and sequence. In this model, teachers introduce a skill, then teach and assess it until the skill has been mastered. Teachers and students work in sequence through the curriculum, staying with a skill until mastery is reached, and before continuing on to the next skill.

Curriculum measurement does not require a curriculum sequence, as regular probes, or assessments, measure all skills in the curriculum, allowing teachers to incorporate multiple skills and tailor teaching to student needs. The curriculum measurement model is often the preferred method in many districts because it's both reliable and valid. As a form of progress monitoring, curriculum measurement can be easily compared to all of the goals in a student's IEP. Furthermore, curriculum measurement can drive instruction, allowing for flexibility and greater differentiation, unlike the prescriptive scope and sequence of the mastery measurement model.

Since the curriculum measurement model is the one most commonly preferred, let's look at how a teacher might implement and document this type of progress monitoring.

Implementing Progress Monitoring

Willa is a special education teacher who works in an inclusion setting in a middle school. Willa's students have IEP goals in math and reading, and Willa, along with her subject area co-teachers, employs curriculum-based progress monitoring.

Looking at each unit, Willa and her co-teachers plan probes to cover various skills in reading and math. Because Willa's students receive special education services, their probes must be administered twice weekly, while the general education students might complete probes less often.

After each probe, Willa and her colleagues examine the data. The results allow them to track student mastery of skills and progress toward IEP goals. The teachers then make curriculum adjustments. If interventions or accommodations result in student success, the interventions or accommodations continue. If students are not making progress, then the interventions can be intensified. Teachers continue to give probes twice weekly and repeat this process.

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