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Curriculum Based Assessments: A Quick Introduction

Updated on February 25, 2012

What is Curriculum Based Assessment?

Curriculum based assessments (CBM) are best known as tools which allow teachers to link instruction with assessment. In the essence, teachers assess students to determine what instruction works best with the student and/or class. It is generally utilized to monitor a student's progress and determine what strengths and weaknesses that student possesses. When teachers are able to use assessments to drive instruction it creates a better (and more effective) learning environment for the student.

More recently, CBM's have been used with special needs populations and situations wherebvy school's have students who struggle academically and behaviorally. It is not uncommon to hear this when paired with RTI (reponse to intervention) and PBIS (positive behavior support in schools).

Curriculum Based Assessments in Your Classroom


Curriculum Based Assements: A Measurement of Performance

Simply stated, curriculum based assessment (CBA) is an evaluation of a student’s performance based upon the actual curriculum. The tests are drawn from actual work and lessons from the instruction of the skills which were taught. This type of assessment requires brief and frequent testing of the student’s performance using the instructional materials that are being used. "CBA was designed to provide direct measurement of academic skills by evaluating student performance on the materials in the curriculum." (Newcomer pg 370)

There is a four step process that needs to be followed in order for CBA to be used successfully. In step one; the teacher needs to analyze the classroom environment. When doing this, the teacher needs to make sure she is allotting an appropriate amount of time for instructing the student’s as well as the time for evaluating student work. If possible, the teacher should have another teacher or a school psychologist in the room to directly observe what is being done and said throughout a lesson by the teacher, the student’s and the student with ED. This way the teacher can get an outside opinion and some feedback on what is going right and what needs improvement.

Step two involves the direct assessment of the student’s work. "In each subject matter area, measures such as the rate of words read or written correctly and incorrectly (reading and written expression), the rate of digits correct and incorrect (mathematics), and the rate of letter sequences correct (spelling), are used to determine the child’s instructional levels." (Newcomer pg 372)

In step three instructional modification are discussed and implemented based upon the outcomes of the child’s assessments. "Effective instructional modifications include controlling for known versus unknown content, flash card drill, peer tutoring, extra minutes of instruction, self-management procedures, and so forth." (Newcomer pg 372)

In step four; the student is monitored for progress and continually evaluated for the effectiveness of the instructional modifications which were made. After some time, the child’s academic progress should improve. If it does not, steps two and three are done again to try and find new ways in which the child can be helped.


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