Special Education

Minimum Requirements of a Response to Intervention Program (RtI)

IV. Repeated Assessments of Student Achievement (Progress Monitoring)

A school district's process to determine if a student responds to scientific, research-based instruction shall include repeated assessments of student achievement which should include curriculum-based measures to determine if interventions are resulting in student progress toward age or grade level standards. [8NYCRR §100.2(ii)(1)(iv)]

Purpose of Progress Monitoring

Progress monitoring is the practice of assessing student performance using assessments on a repeated basis to determine how well a student is responding to instruction.  Data obtained from progress monitoring helps staff to determine the extent to which students are benefiting from classroom instruction and informs decisions about appropriate levels of intervention.

Progress monitoring differs from screening (discussed in Chapter II) regarding the frequency with which it is administered and the kind of information it provides about student performance.  Screening targets students who may be at-risk by comparing their performance to a criterion-referenced measure. Progress monitoring provides routine data that display student growth over time to determine if the student is progressing as expected in the curriculum.  (Mellard and Johnson, 2008)

Uses of Progress Monitoring Data

There are different uses of data from progress monitoring within the different tiers of intervention.

Data from progress monitoring in Tier 1 inform decision-making about classroom instruction in two main ways:

  1. Once a student has been initially identified as at-risk by screening procedures, progress monitoring can be used to determine the student’s progress in the general curriculum and confirm or refute initial screening results.
  2. Analysis of average performance of all students combined and their rate of growth can assist teachers/administrators in determining the need for curricular and instructional change within the core curriculum.

The primary purpose of progress monitoring in Tier 2 and beyond involves determining whether the intervention is successful in helping the student catch up to grade level expectations.  Data from progress monitoring in Tiers 2 and 3 inform decision-making regarding individual students’ responsiveness or lack of responsiveness in two ways:

  • Learning rate, or student’s growth in achievement or behavior competencies over time, compared to prior levels of performance and peer growth rates; and
  • “Level of performance, or the student’s relative standing on some dimension of achievement/performance, compared to expected performance (either criterion- or norm-referenced).” (NASDSE, May 2006)

Data from progress monitoring should be used to inform student movement through tiers.  For example, progress monitoring data obtained during the course of Tier 2 intervention should be analyzed for level of performance and growth status.  If student data reflect performance at or above benchmark, the student may return to Tier 1.  If the student is performing below benchmark, but making sufficient growth progress, the decision to continue Tier 2 intervention can be made.  If the student is performing below benchmark and demonstrates poor growth (i.e. under-responding), a change in the Tier 2 intervention or movement to a Tier 3 intervention may be considered.

Tools for Progress Monitoring

The assessment tools selected for progress monitoring should be specific to the skills being measured.  CBMs are a frequently used tool for progress monitoring.  For example, in reading, an appropriate progress monitoring tool would target the specific essential element(s) of reading with which an individual student is having difficulty, such as phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and/or comprehension.

The National Center on Response to Intervention provides information about reading and math progress monitoring tools and provides users with information about the technical adequacy of commonly used progress monitoring tools.  In addition, the chart provides users with practical information about how to obtain, access support for, and implement the tools. See http://www.rti4success.org/chart/progressMonitoring/progressmonitoringtoolschart.htm.

The use of informal assessments during the course of instruction can provide teachers with additional information on which to base instructional decisions.  A combination of CBMs and informal, ongoing assessments (checklists, reading inventories, running records) completed by teachers to monitor progress are recommended so that use of CBM is not the sole index of progress, which could lead to unintended consequences such as  children being fast and accurate in word reading, but inattentive to the meaning of what is read.

Additional and individual assessments may also be implemented to inform the nature of instruction that takes place in Tier 2 and beyond.  For example, an informal reading inventory (IRA) or diagnostic reading assessment (DRA) may be administered to provide additional information about the instructional needs of the targeted student.

Steps for Progress Monitoring

Progress monitoring involves the following steps*:
  1. Establish a benchmark for performance and plot it on a chart (e.g., “read orally at grade level 40 words per minute by June”).  It must be plotted at the projected end of the instructional period, such as the end of the school year.
  2. Establish the student’s current level of performance (e.g., “20 words per minute”).
  3. Draw an aim line from the student’s current level to the performance benchmark.  This picture represents the slope of progress required to meet the benchmark.
  4. Monitor the student’s progress frequently (e.g., every Monday).  Plot the data.
  5. Analyze the data on a regular basis, applying decision rules (e.g., “the intervention will be changed after six data points that are below the aimline”).
  6. Draw a trend line to validate that the student’s progress is adequate to meet the goal over time.

*Oregon Department of Education, Office of Student Learning and Partnership (Revised December 2007) Identification of Students with Learning Disabilities under the IDEA 2004, Technical Assistance to School Districts, Oregon Response to Intervention

Frequency of Progress Monitoring

Decision rules regarding the frequency of progress monitoring within each tier must also be established.  If using a standard protocol procedure, this would be determined by the specific protocol.  If using the problem-solving method, this could vary dependent upon various factors including, but not limited to:

  • frequency of intervention;
  • extent of gap in achievement; and/or
  • focus of intervention

Progress monitoring should occur not less than once every two weeks in Tier 2 and no less than once a week in Tier 3.  Standard Protocol and Problem Solving methods are explained in Chapter V.

Factors to Consider to Determine Adequate Progress of LEP/ELL Students

When monitoring the progress of LEP/ELL students, “the expected rate of progress takes into account… linguistic…considerations such as the student’s [native and second] language proficiency, stage of second language acquisition, [and] type of language instruction.  The student’s progress [is compared with] levels demonstrated by peers from comparable cultural, linguistic, and experiential backgrounds who have received the intervention.” (Garcia & Ortiz, 2008)


Quality Indicators for Progress Monitoring

  • Progress monitoring of student performance occurs across all tiers.
  • Teachers follow a designated procedure and schedule for progress monitoring.
  • Measures are appropriate to the curriculum, grade level and tier level.
  • Data from progress monitoring are documented and analyzed.
  • A standardized benchmark is used to measure progress and determine progress sufficiency.
  • Teachers use progress monitoring to inform instructional effectiveness and the need for changes in instruction or intervention.
  • Graphs are used to display data for analysis and decision making.
  • Staff receive training in the administration and interpretation of progress monitoring measures and the implications for instruction.
  • The district has designated reasonable cut points, and decision rules of the level, slope or percentage of mastery to help determine responsiveness and distinguish adequate from inadequate responsiveness.
  • When monitoring the progress of LEP/ELL students, the student’s progress is compared with the levels of progress demonstrated by peers from similar cultural and linguistic backgrounds who have received the interventions.

Essential Task List for Progress Monitoring – Tier 1

Directions:  In the second column, write the name of the individual or team who will assume responsibility for the task identified in the first column.  In the third column, write the deadline for or the status of the task.  Complete each task identified.

Tier 1
Task Responsible Individual/Team Timeline/Status
Within the relevant content area, review the progress monitoring measure or tool selected for Tier 1 to determine whether content is aligned with your curriculum.    
Once a tool has been selected, determine and secure the resources required to implement it (e.g., computers, folders/copies, testing areas).    
Determine initial professional development needs and continuing professional development support.    
Implement a system of data collection and progress monitoring that includes determining both level and growth rate.    
Administer the progress monitoring measure frequently enough to assess a learner’s responsiveness.  At Tier 1, screening is three times a year, with routine monitoring weekly or twice weekly.    
Monitor results at the individual student level and make decisions about reasonable cut scores to determine movement to Tier 2 and beyond.    
Monitor results at the classroom level and make decisions about when teachers or instructional programs require more scrutiny and support.    

Adapted and reprinted with permission from Johnson, E., Mellard, D.F., Fuchs, D., & McKnight, M.A. (2006).  Responsiveness to Intervention (RTI):  How to do it.  Lawrence, KS:  National Research Center on Learning Disabilities.

Tier 2 and Beyond
Task Responsible Individual/Team Timeline/Status
Implement a system of data collection and progress monitoring that includes determining both level and growth rate.    
Within the relevant area of focus for the intervention, review the progress monitoring measure or tool selected for Tier 2 and beyond to determine whether content is aligned with the intervention.    
Administer the progress monitoring measure frequently enough to assess a learner’s responsiveness.  At Tier 2, no less than once every two weeks. .    
Organize results to provide a profile of the student’s progress within this tier.  This could be a graph of progress monitoring data supplemented with student work samples or additional informal assessments.    
Monitor results to determine whether a student is responding to the intervention.    
Develop decision rules about when to return a student to Tier 1, when to continue with Tier 2 and beyond, and whether further scrutiny of student performance for special education is warranted.    

Adapted and reprinted with permission from Johnson, E., Mellard, D.F., Fuchs, D., & McKnight, M.A. (2006).  Responsiveness to Intervention (RTI):  How to do it.  Lawrence, KS: National Research Center on Learning Disabilities.

Last Updated: November 9, 2010