Revisiting CBM (Curriculum Based Measures.)

Posted Saturday January 03, 2015 by Ian Spence

When Stan Deno first suggested Curriculum Based Measures in 1985, he referred to a set of procedures that would count the number of correct answers on a worksheet that was presented to a student for a specific time period. In the case of reading from a passage, the count would be the number of correct words read. This is still the pure definition of CBM, even though there have been many refinements necessitated to meet the needs of teachers and assessors.

CyberSlate uses Deno’s original definition, adding in a record of errors as well. CyberSlate is the only computer-based application that does so.  In this blog, I compare the CyberSlate approach to other modified CBM approaches.

* CyberSlate Advantages:

1. CyberSlate measures the outcome every time, and places the data on the Standard Celeration Chart. No time is wasted recording the scores in other places.

2. This score is based on the material the student is practicing every day. No different protocols are necessary for testing.

3. The Standard Celeration Chart shows the corrects and errors (learning opportunities) clearly on the same multiply scale so that it is easy to establish trends. These can be computed as x2 per week by drawing a line through the hedgerow of dots (named an acceleration line.) If it is on the same slant as a line that is drawn from 1 on Sunday to 2 on the next Sunday, the acceleration is said to be x2 or doubling in a week.

4. Since the CyberSlate fluency is stored on the Cloud, it may be practiced at any time by the student with a parent, aide, the classroom teacher, the reading specialist, or a buddy – making it possible to have several sessions every day, including weekends.


1. The chart is not easy to read at first. It is elegant, but not simple.  It takes practice.

2. Reading Passages is just one measure of reading. While it is an indicator, its results should be compared periodically with other probes.

3. The chart does not yield a grade level equivalence. This kind of information is traditionally most reliably established through yearly, standardized testing. Schools now use DIBELs, AimsWeb, or other composite CBM-alike protocols to derive scores that can be related to grade equivalence. These testing/scoring sessions are quite comprehensive, and they have a growing body of research to support their derived scores, but they are intrusive, taking prescious time out of the remediation sessions.  In contrast, CyberSlate can show you charts of students who have used Reading Passages as their indicators of progress, and how the independent testing scored them at the end of each year. If your chart shows equal progress, your student will likely have similar scores.

Andrew's Chart of Reading Passages. He has completed 51 of 60 Reading Passages in 20 weeks, so he will likely test at a Grade 5 Sight Reading level when tested in January.

Andrew’s Chart of Reading Passages. He began on the first story in SRA Decoding B1 (Lesson 6) and completed 51 of 60 Reading Passages with a passing criterion of 150 wpm in 20 weeks. He read several times per day (indicated on the bottom (day) cycle on the chart), both at school and at home. He took over the management of his program, demanding that his teacher, aide, or mother complete this exercise with him at scheduled times, or whenever an extra session could be squeezed in. By the time he completed Story 20, Andrew was predicting that he would complete the Grade 4 book by January. When administered a Sight Reading probe in January, he tested at a Grade 5 Sight Reading level. Reading Passages was not the only exercise he practiced, but he saw it as representative of his improvement in all of the activities.