The curriculum-based approach, advanced by researchers Lynn and Douglas Fuchs at Vanderbilt University, measures how well a child has learned what he has been taught. His progress in meeting the demands of the reading program developed for him is graphed over time, so his growth or lack of growth is clearly visible. Progress in different areas of reading-including phonics, decoding nonsense words, reading real words, and reading passages aloud-can be measured. Earlier I discussed expected levels of fluency at different grades. CBM can be used to track fluency rates as an objective measure to identify if a child is responding to a particular instructional approach and, if necessary, to modify it. The rate of his reading growth is compared to norms that have been established for the amount of weekly growth expected at each grade level, beginning at grade one and extending through grade six. No one has to wait for the end of the school year to learn about a child's reading progress. A child's rate of reading growth follows a distinct pattern: (1) growth is greatest in the early school years and lessens with each succeeding grade; (2) growth is most often at its maximum at the beginning of each school year and tapers off toward spring. Using oral passage reading as an example, I have listed below the expected reading growth rates-how much (the number of words read correctly per minute) a child should be expected to improve each week. The important figure here is the amount of change-how many more words per minute a child can read correctly compared to the previous week. For each grade level, a lower number (referred to as "realistic") and a higher one (called "ambitious") are provided. The realistic number represents the amount of improvement observed for a typical child. The child who is experiencing reading difficulties, having fallen behind, has a lot more ground to cover, so he must make faster progress than his classmates. His goal is to achieve the ambitious rate of growth if he is to make a learning leap and catch up to his classmates.
Rate of Expected Weekly Reading Growth (Increase in Correct Words Read per Minute) Grade Realistic Ambitious 1) 2.00 3.00 2) 1.50 2.00 3) 1.00 1.50 4) 0.85 1.10 5) 0.50 0.80 6) 0.30 0.65