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Blog

Apart From the Rest: Continuous Measurement

Kerri Milyko, Ph.D. BCBA

February 2010

            This month’s article is the third in a series, Apart From the Rest, where I differentiate my services from those of traditional learning centers.  Last month, I explained how Precision Teaching (PT) learning centers strengthen the underlying processes governing learning via component skills as opposed to “teaching to the test.”  With this unique training, an initial assessment is required to highlight the areas in need of training.  This assessment is repeatedly administered to evaluate the impact the PT training.  However, re-administering the assessment is not the only form of continuous measurement employed by PT learning centers.  Data is constantly taken regarding 1) the specific training targets, 2) a weekly global assessment of the composite behavior of interest and 3) a 40-hour grade level reassessment.

            When a student enrolls at a PT learning center, performance on training targets is immediately charted and tracked on Standard Celeration Charts (SCC).  These charts display all sorts of behavior and allow the instructors to make immediate instructional decisions.  If the student is not progressing toward the mastery criterion, as identified on the SCC, the instructor can make a change with respect to the child’s programming within his/her session to ensure success.  Therefore, little to no time is wasted remaining on mastered items or on an unsuccessful target without a proper intervention.  Additionally, since data is immediately and continuously recorded, parents can ask about their student’s performance at any time and visually see the student’s progress.

            Weekly, the training on the component skills is evaluated by testing the composite skill though a Curriculum Based Assessment (CBA).  This assessment has been thoroughly researched and is found to be a solution to standardized assessment’s lack of influence over treatment utility and the subjectivity of teacher report.  This brief assessment allows the instructors to continuously evaluate the impact of the PT training.  Furthermore, the performance on the CBA is measured in the same manner as the performance of the PT training which allows for a direct comparison of the training targets to the weekly assessment.  If performance on the CBA does not improve as a product of the PT training, the instructors can, again, make an immediate change to the student’s programming to ensure success.

            Finally, after receiving 40-hours of direct service, the initial assessment is re-administered.  Therefore, the assessment now functions as a pre/post test to evaluate the student’s individualized PT programming.  This assessment is an extensive, more detailed CBA than the weekly tests.  It evaluates growth on specific grade level targets that are directly associated with the targeted behavior.  Therefore, the instructors can easily rely on the assessment results to know exactly what changes, if any, are needed to guarantee success.  Moreover, these results are easily interpreted by any novice of the assessment.  As opposed to standardized tests that report results of a number of different measures condensed into one outcome measure, the detailed CBA identifies specific areas that meet or fall below proficiency levels.  Therefore, not only can the instructors easily understand the results of the assessment, parents without training can easily interpret the results of the assessment.  This allows the parent to be fully informed regarding their student’s grade level performance.

            Unfortunately, CBAs are not conducted at traditional learning centers.  Not only do these centers not asses a student’s performance when enrolling at the learning center, they additionally do not track global performance of their programming.  PT learning centers are always conducting program evaluations on specific and global targets to ensure that your student is receiving the proper services for his/her specific need.  By continuously measuring performance and its outcomes, not only do PT learning centers guarantee that the student’s programming is appropriate, but ensures its effectiveness and efficiency.