Each week in the Lower School, student progress is measured in reading, math, and writing fluency.
Fluency measures how quickly a task is performed, such as the number of words read in a minute. A student’s speed increases gradually as skill and proficiency improves. Fluency can be measured over time, and overall improvements in speed can be interpreted as progress.
Essentially, fluency measures how “easily” something can be done. Students with fluency are able to go beyond the basics of learning to accomplish more complex tasks. For example, if a student spends considerable mental energy decoding when reading, their comprehension or understanding of what is going on in the story will likely be diminished. Likewise, if a student spends extra time trying to recall basic math facts, confusion or simple errors may occur when that student tries to apply math in story problems or real world contexts. Or, if a student is slow to get their thoughts down on paper, they may lose their idea and not be able to communicate as well in writing.
Here is a simple description of the three areas (reading, math, writing) where this type of progress monitoring occurs at Lawrence:
is simply the number of words read correctly within a minute from a passage. Lawrence uses a system developed through the University of Oregon called DIBELS
(Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills).
Math Fluency is simply the number of basic math facts in a specific computation area (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) a student can correctly perform in a minute.
Writing Fluency measures the total number of words written as well as how often a student can pair two words consecutively that convey meaning and are spelled correctly. The students are given a writing prompt, 30 seconds to brainstorm, and three minutes to write.
Overall, we see significant progress for most students, particularly over the course of one year or more. Students can expect to see improvements of two or three grade levels within one year, in some cases. The results of Progress Monitoring are shared with students regularly and with parents quarterly (or if requested).