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The Five W’s of Progress Monitoring

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January 03, 2024


 What is progress monitoring?

It is basically just what it sounds to be. It is monitoring the progress that students are making towards their goals. In Special Education, we are referring to IEP goals, but regular classroom teachers use it too. It is small assessments along the way to see if students are progressing towards their goals.

The Five W’s (and one H) of Progress Monitoring

Why? Progress monitoring informs our instruction. It helps us see which kids need more help and which have got it already. It helps us see areas in which students are struggling, where we need to reteach things and where we don’t. It also can be used to inform kids about their own progress.

When? The when of progress monitoring depends greatly on your situation. Firstly, it should be done at regular intervals along the way. Some skills, such as reading might be assessed weekly or every other week, this is most common. Sometimes monitoring only needs to happen once a month but may need to happen a bit more often for some students. How often your progress monitor is going to depend on what you are trying to accomplish and the time you have available to do the progress monitoring.

Where? It can be challenging to find a time and place to progress monitor. Consistency is really key to keeping up with progress monitoring. Have a set place and time for progress monitoring. Many teachers choose to do their progress monitoring on a certain day of the week (perhaps Thursdays or Fridays.)

Progress monitoring keeps you up to the date of your students’ growth and helps inform your instruction. Put in a little work up front to make your IEP goals a little easier and your teaching more effective.

Getting the support you need…

If you teach small groups you can do your assessment as part of your regular group time. If you are a regular education teacher with 25-30 students you might have to get a bit creative. Ask for help and have a trusted parent or aide help with the monitoring (if you do this, take turns on who takes which students so you get a chance to personally assess everyone at some point.)

Unfortunately, not everyone has a lot of classroom help. This was the case for me in my first-grade classroom. I spent my small group time each Friday doing progress monitoring. Then, for the last hour of the day, we did Fun Friday. Sometimes we would do a craft or have some free play time (the students earned the activity throughout the week.) During this time I finished my progress monitoring.

Understanding your demographic…

Who? Who needs to be progress monitored? Everyone does. Even when students have seemingly mastered a concept it’s a good idea to check in with them from time to time to be sure they aren’t slipping on previously mastered content.

How? Progress monitoring feels a bit overwhelming at times. There is a LOT of paper to keep track of. It can be a challenge to boil all that data down to an IEP goal and progress report. Luckily there are a lot of great systems out there. Only you know what works best for you and your classroom, but putting the time and work into a system upfront will save you a lot of angst in the long run.

  • Progress Monitoring Binders: Create a binder for each student in which you put the student’s goals. The student should feel some ownership in the binder and be informed about their own progress. This can be very motivating. Chart the progress monitoring Binder with everyone’s names in it. Ask for help, an aide, a parent, but rotate so that you get a chance to do it too.
  • Progress Monitoring Cards: This idea here shows some progress monitoring cards, a more compact option.
  • You can work some of the progress monitoring into your independent practice. It doesn’t have to be a long exam for each kid, but rather tracking their progress. (For example, if the child has a goal to work on addition, give them some addition problems on a whiteboard and keep track of how many they get to add to the chart.)
  • Keep it Consistent: Perhaps you give them 5 problems each time. Make the problems similar to and the amount the same so you are comparing apples to apples over time.
  • Chart Progress: It can be helpful to chart the student’s progress so they can see it. Have the student color in a graph or record their scores when they make progress so they can see how they are doing.

By: Amy Curletto

Amy has been teaching for 12 years in grades K-2. She has a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and also has endorsements in reading and ESL. Besides education, her other passion is writing and she has always dreamed of being a writer. She lives in Utah with her husband, her 3 daughters, and her miniature schnauzer. She enjoys reading, knitting, and camping.

Mentions: Mrs. D’s Corner, https://www.mrsdscorner.com/progressmonitoringmadequickeasy/

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