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Special Education Listserv

Subject: Response to Intervention/CBM as District-wide Assessment

Source: Heidi Atkins Lieberman, Assistant Commissioner

Intended Audience: Superintendents, Principals, Directors of Special Education, Faculty

Date: May 22, 2009

Recently, we have had some questions regarding the use of curriculum-based measurement (CBM) as a district-wide assessment.  We have discussed this issue with the National RtI Center.  As many of you know, Missouri was one of ten states that had the honor of being selected to work with the National Center.

Our state contact reinforced our initial thoughts on this by explaining that: "CBM was designed to progress monitor student progress on specific benchmarks related to standards or related to the tasks to accomplish the learning goal.  The original designer (Stanley Deno) developed it to measure progress of behavior interventions and the concept was used in precision teaching back in the early days of special education.  It really is meant to be given more frequently than a screening tool.  I do not see it as a district-wide assessment because a district-wide assessment is one that measures student progress towards standards, particularly district content standards that may go beyond the state standards.  These are meant to be more summative in nature and to make decisions regarding district curriculum related to standards not interventions for a particular student."

Furthermore, she pointed out that: "If a district uses CBM as a district-wide assessment then the same rules and regulations apply.  The district must provide accommodations in writing for those assessments and have an alternate assessment in place for those students unable to participate in the assessment..."  Therefore, we do not encourage the use of CBM as a district-wide assessment.

So, while we wholeheartedly endorse the use of curriculum-based measurement to provide universal screening and progress monitoring of student proficiency and view the use of CBM as a key component of any data-based decision-making process implemented in a school or district, we do not encourage use as a district-wide assessment.

Please keep in mind that when considering an assessment to be used as a district-wide assessment, for students with disabilities, the Individuals With Disabilities Act (IDEA) makes provision for accommodations on district-wide assessments as well as the requirement to provide an alternate assessment for those students unable to participate in this assessment.  Therefore, if a curriculum-based measurement such as DIBELS is used as a district-wide assessment, these requirements will apply to students with disabilities.