Description and General Information
CBMreading is a particular version of Curriculum Based Measurement (CBM) of oral reading fluency, originally developed by Deno and colleagues to index the rate and level of reading achievement (Deno, 1985; Shinn, 1989). It is an evidence-based assessment used for screening and progress monitoring in grades 1-8. CBMreading uses easy, time-efficient processes, which can be used to determine a student’s general reading ability across short intervals of time (i.e., weekly, monthly, or tri-annually). Students read aloud for one minute from grade – or instructional – level passages, while the teacher marks any errors. The resulting score is the number of words read correctly per minute (WRCM). The CBMreading scoring system provides a robust indicator of reading health and a sensitive indicator of intervention effects.
CBMreading uses standardized administration and scoring procedures, which were designed and developed to optimize the consistency of data collected across students. CBMreading provides teachers with a direct link to instruction, allowing them to determine if and when instructional adaptations are needed, to set ambitious but attainable goals for students, and to monitor progress toward those goals.
Aspects of Reading Measured by CBMreading
By listening to a student read, a teacher can learn many important details about the student’s current reading skills, including evidence of skills in the areas of phonemic awareness, phonics, and fluency. These are skills identified in the National Reading Panel (NRP) Report published in 2000. In addition, CBMreading is aligned with the skills included in the Common Core State Standards for English and Language Arts (2010). These Standards cover three domains, including Foundational Skills in Reading, Reading Literature, and Reading Informational Texts. CBMreading measures a student’s proficiency in the following Foundational Skills subcategories:
- Print Concepts – the organization and basic feature of print.
- Phonological Awareness – the understanding of spoken words syllables and sounds or phonemes.
- Phonics and Word Recognition – the application of grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
- Fluency – reading on-level texts with sufficient purpose, accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
Oral Reading Fluency
As previously mentioned, CBMreading is a particular version of an oral reading fluency measure, and an effective tool for measuring rate of reading. Reading disabilities, including dyslexia, are most frequently associated with deficits in accurate and efficient word identification. Although reading is not merely rapid word identification or “barking at words” (Samuels, 2007), the use of rate-based (e.g., timed) measures provides a general measure of reading that can alert teachers to students who have problems or are behind their peers in general reading ability. A student’s reading rate provides details about how automatically the student can recognize, decode, and understand each word. For this reason, CBMreading provides a global indicator of reading.
Uses and Applications
CBMreading is an evidence-based assessment used to screen and progress monitor students in reading competency in grades 1-8. The assessment is designed to be highly efficient and to give a broad indication of reading competence. The automated output of each assessment gives information about a student’s reading accuracy and automaticity which can be used to inform intervention.
As a screening assessment, CBMreading is intended to identify students who are at-risk for reading difficulties and to guide instructional decisions. When used for universal screening, students read three short passages developed for their grade level three times a year (i.e., fall, winter, and spring).
Instruction can be made more or less resource intensive and individualized for students requiring the most support. At the school level, student growth can be tracked and monitored, allowing administrators to look at improvements across grades and academic years. Teachers and administrators can use this information to help parents better understand their children’s reading needs.
Progress monitoring requires a set of equivalent reading passages, a schedule, graphing procedures, and decision rules about how to interpret student scores. The materials and decision rules guiding material use, selection, and schedule of administration in CBMreading have all been developed with these core elements in mind. CBMreading progress monitoring data can be collected at regular intervals of up to five times a week; we recommend weekly progress monitoring.
Passage Type and Level
Given that consistency across levels was a goal in the development of CBMreading, we opted to use one type of text (narrative) in the CBMreading passages. Narrative texts tell a story from fictional or fact-based events (Stein & Glenn, 1975). Narratives were selected because the events they typically reflect experiences that students have been exposed to throughout their early development (Schank & Ableson, 1977; Trabasso & Stein, 1997). These events and episodes typically follow similar patterns and would be familiar to most students. For example, narratives typically include characters in a particular setting who are involved in some event(s) that require(s) setting goal(s), attempting to meet the goal(s), and a resulting outcome related to the goal(s) (Stein & Trabasso, 1982). Most children can relate to this structure in both reading and non-reading experiences and thus will use existing (and typically similar) background knowledge to understand them (Goldman & Varnhagen, 1986; Trabasso & Nickels, 1992). Writers were thus instructed to develop a goal-action/attempt-outcome structure for each passage story. They were given instructions that their passage stories should consist of one or more characters who have a goal, take action or attempt to meet that goal, and experience an outcome where their initial goal is met or not met.
It is important to note that the difficulty of the passage focuses on reading ability, not on grade level, as reading ability will vary from student to student. The passages meet strict guidelines, such as the types of words used (i.e., must be decodable), number of words in a sentence, number of sentences in a paragraph, and total words, in order to ensure a transferable comparability across levels. Unusual punctuation, such as colons, and unusual words are avoided. Rather than creating grade level passages, we created passages designed to work across grades to serve as reliable indicators of performance at each level.
CBMreading is designed for all students in grade levels 1 through 8. It is possible that some students in these grades might not yet be able to read connected text. For those students not yet reading connected text with fluency, CBMreading results and scores should be interpreted with caution and other FAST assessments such as those in earlyReading might provide better information about these students’ reading instruction needs.
CBMreading is available in English (grades 1-8) and Spanish (grades 1-5).