As a professional development consultant for Branching Minds, I work with teachers and administrators from all over the country. A question I frequently get asked is how should progress monitoring look at the middle school and high school levels? If you are a secondary school teacher and are working under the practice of MTSS or the RTI process you have probably scratched your head over this question many times as well. Today you are in luck! In this post, I will discuss why you should be progress monitoring, what assessments are appropriate for progress monitoring, how these assessments are administered, and when you should progress monitor students. My hope is to give you practical steps and tools to put into practice, like Branching Minds, I aim to make the best practices actually practicable!
Effective progress monitoring is critical for a successful MTSS/RTI practice. In addition to universal screening assessments--which are given to all students three times a year--students receiving tier 2 or 3 levels of support should be given a progress monitoring assessment every other week or weekly, respectively. These data allow us to have better visibility into whether or not our support is working for a given student, and more importantly, when it is not so that we can adjust the intervention approach quickly to better meet the needs of that student. Assessments used for progress monitoring should be quick, skill (not content) based, and valid and reliable (i.e., having demonstrated to accurately and consistently measure what they are supposed to be evaluating). The Center for Intensive Intervention has a helpful chart that evaluates and compares these qualities for common progress monitoring assessments.
The purpose of monitoring progress is to determine the effectiveness of an intervention plan on student learning. When data show students are progressing, interventions are maintained until students meet identified goals. When data show students are not progressing, a change in intervention is necessary (Fuchs, Compton, Fuchs & Davis, 2008). When changes are made to intervention plans based on data, intervention or phase lines should be placed on student graphs to indicate the change. Students receiving Tier 2 support should be assessed weekly or every other week, while students receiving Tier 3 support should be assessed weekly.