Progress Monitoring: Make the Biggest Impact

Completing a student running record or fluency probe is one of those time consuming necessities that seem to be the cause of great distress in the classroom. It is time consuming. If you are a great teacher who knows their students, you usually already know how each individual student will perform on that assessment anyway. Good, informative progress monitoring requires a lot of paperwork.

So, for all of these negatives, why do we use progress monitoring?  In the education world, data based decision making is embedded in the education system; concrete piece that allow teachers to continuously improve and leave NO child left behind.

Progress monitoring Benefits (quick recap)

Allows teachers to collect useful data
In regards to each student’s learning goal, progress monitoring will help teachers support those goals through the informative data collected.
Improves teacher performance
If you have been meeting with a group of struggling readers for 2 weeks in a guided reading setting; focusing on strategies, word work, and decoding skills- the MOST important aspect to assess is if your instruction is helping. If in 2 weeks, the students haven’t retained the information on an independent level- ADJUST your instruction, strategy etc…  Progress monitoring allows teachers to work smarter and not harder.
Ensures Success for all
Through differentiated instruction, each child is able to set individual goals.  One of the tools that can help support that each child is reaching his/her goal is through a quick assessment of their progress.
Identify those students who are at Risk
Progress monitoring is a response to intervention (RTI) tool that can help catch students who are falling behind or struggling with a comprehension concept or a decoding skill and provide intervention before it is too late.
As a classroom teacher, the formative assessments that I used took a day from classroom practice and instruction. It became too much.  I knew the importance of the assessments, but at times it became redundant, overwhelming and disheartening.

How to get the most out of progress monitoring? 

  1. Identify the stakeholders

In education, the stakeholders include…

the student, their parents, You (their current grade level teacher) and the next grade level

It is important to understand who the stakeholders are because it allows you, the teacher, to keep all stakeholder needs in the forefront. The goal is to meet all stakeholder needs.

2. What are their needs?

(The following are generic needs for examples)

The student- What is their personal reading goal? (Reading on a Level M)

Principal/Instructional Coach/Grade Level Team- Reader is able to objectively read using reading behaviors at an independent level that will move him/her to the next grade level.

Parents- Provide challenging instruction that will intervene when needed, but support their emotional and social needs at the same time.

Teacher- Nurture a responsible, responsive, and thoughtful Life-long reader.- Get them to use comprehension strategies when reading Level M.

Next grade level – A reader that is meeting grade level expectations due to skills and strategies taught in previous grade.- Can read a Level M

  • These are just examples, and I imagine yours will be a lot longer.   Just keep in mind, they need to be specific, measureable, reading behavior focused, and SMART.

3. Prioritize these goals

Make sure you pick goals that can result in actual outcomes- reading behaviors, reading levels, etc…

4. Create a Progress Monitoring Schedule

  • Progress monitoring is a TOOL not the instruction. If instruction was interrupted by fire drills, assemblies, field trips etc… then pull progress monitoring to the side.
  • Remember: PM is measuring what you have instructed and if you haven’t had time to complete or finish the learning cycle -then why PM

5. Communicate and Execute the Plan based on PM

The MOST important part of PM is the PLAN that is formed based on the data.  If a student is at risk, needs advanced lessons, or is on target- create a plan, communicate it with your team of stakeholders and execute that plan before progress monitoring again.

6. Use research-based strategies to teach the reading behaviors/skills needed to move that reader forward

The Fountas and Pinnell Literacy Continuum book lays these reading behaviors out like pros. But, I am sure if you just take a second to Google ‘Reading Behaviors’ you will find many more tools at your disposal via Pinterest and TPT

7. Move them along- Keep pushing the reader to a new ‘uncomfortable’

Nobody ever learned something new staying in their comfort zone.


Progress monitoring is a TOOL that is best used when the data drives instruction, but it is best when it is not THE only instructional tool. It is a piece of the puzzle, a cog in the wheel that makes instruction affective.

Categories Teaching

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