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Masters of Special Education with Academic Instruction Certification

Curriculum-Based Assessment (CBA) - Topic 12

What is it?

Curriculum-based assessment (CBA) is an evaluation process that makes use of academic content selected directly from the material taught.  This is a form of criterion-referenced assessment that connects evaluation with instructional programs by informing teachers of both student progress and learning challenges.  A key characteristic of CBA is that it provides a form of direct measurement where teachers are assessing precisely what they teach, which is not always the case with indirect or norm-referenced assessments that do not necessarily reflect the specific material covered in particular classroom.

Various approaches to CBA make use of direct, ongoing measurement involving brief probes or other discreet measures that are focused on the direct skills, content, and context of a given classroom.  Most probes take between 1 and 5 minutes to administer and are generally easy to score, making CBA a form of ongoing assessment of student performance over time.  Frequent collection of data is typically graphed for visual analysis enabling an ability to target emerging skills, error patterns, or skills in need of remediation.

Examples of CBA strategies and procedures include miscue and error analysis to assess issues in reading such as additions, substitutions, omissions, reversals, or reading words not displayed in a text.  Informal reading inventories may be used to establish appropriate reading materials for students or group placement in reading groups.  Checklists and rating scales can be used to record detail student performance systematically.  The collection of student work samples may also be used as a portfolio assessment to collect student work that is in progress in addition to final products for evaluation.


Why is it important?

The use of CBA is a student-centered approach to evaluating and documenting student progress that provides teachers with a valuable tool for planning, delivering, and assessing instruction.  The simple, yet ongoing nature of CBA means that educators can make regular use of assessment procedures in order to continually modify and adapt instructional objectives while individualizing instruction as needed.

Burns, M.K. (2002). Utilizing a comprehensive system of assessment to intervention

using curriculum-based assessments. Intervention in School and Clinic, 38, 8-13.

Cook, B.G., & Tankersley. (2013). Research-based practices in special education. Boston: Pearson

Education, Inc.

Web Links

National Center on Student Progress Monitoring

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