A Special Education Teacher must have a myriad of tools in their toolkit: manipulatives, patience, creativity, highlighters, and a Curriculum Based Measurement (CBM). So, what is Curriculum Based Measurement? A Curriculum Based Measurement, or CBM, is a method of monitoring student educational progress through direct assessment of academic skills. A CBM can be used to determine basic skills in reading, mathematics, spelling, and written expression. It can also be used to monitor readiness skills. When using CBM, the teacher gives the student brief, timed samples, or “probes,” made up of academic material taken from the child’s school curriculum.
I was first introduced to CBM as a graduate student. For my student teaching assignment, I interned in a Reading class of twelve 3rd and 4th graders with learning disabilities. Along with the Teacher and Classroom Assistant, I taught Reading daily to a pair of students for forty-five minutes.
Sally, an energetic nine-year-old, was one of my Reading group students. Sally was the perfect choice for my CBM Project since she was a tactile, kinesthetic learner and her Educational Evaluation recommended ‘reading instruction that is enriched with focuses on phonetic skills and uses hands-on and concrete interactive materials’.
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Sally’s probe consisted of reading one syllable words with welded sounds (ang, -ing, -ong, -ung, -ank, -ink, -onk, -unk) from a Word list with ten real words and fifteen non-sense words within two minutes after fifteen to twenty minutes of instruction. During the CBM, I supplemented her routine Orton-Gillingham lessons with Phonemic Awareness games with interactive materials like Styrofoam letter die, hand-made colored letter cards, small paper drinking cups, cubes, and highlighters.
Sally’s CBM data revealed an overall increase in correctly read welded sound words from three words in Intervention 1 to nine words in Intervention 8. The data confirmed Sally needed several multisensory, interactive games in her daily Reading lessons. Some of the games could include rolling Styrofoam cubes to create real and non-sense words, creating letter cards for the Cup and Cube game, singing a welded sound song, or creating a welded sound dance. She also needed an active role in her learning process; she was very excited when she created the letter cards for her Cup and Cube game.
To date, teachers using CBM have found it to be both a powerful assessment tool for measuring mastery of basic skills and an efficient means of monitoring short-term and long-term student progress in key academic areas. Not only does CBM provide an accurate picture of student’s progress in the course, but it also gives the teacher insight into instructional techniques and the different learning styles and needs of students. Also, CBM provides parents with current, weekly updates on their child’s progress in the class. Curriculum Based Measurement is an invaluable resource for teachers, tutors, and parents and a must for every toolkit.