Curriculum-Based Measurement and Curriculum-Based Assessment

Curriculum-Based Evaluation (CBE) is "any set of measurement procedures that use direct observation and recording of a student’s performance in a local curriculum as a basis for gathering information to make instructional decisions" (Deno, 1987, in Shinn, 1989; p. 62). Curriculum-Based Evaluation is sometimes used interchangeably with Curriculum-Based Assessment (CBA) and Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM) although CBA and CBM are also considered types of CBE.

Curriculum-based assessment (CBA) is a type of on-going assessment that involves periodic monitoring of a student’s daily performance in relation to what is taught. It provides a measure of a student’s progress through the curriculum and whether that progress is adequate. CBA is based on the skills described in the student’s curriculum, is repeated frequently throughout the year and is used as the basis for educational decision-making and student planning (Thomas, Allman, & Beech, 2004).  

CBE is administered to a student or groups of students in the classroom for the purpose of describing academic competence, tracking academic development, identifying learning disabilities and/or improving student achievement. Teachers assess students’ performance on a regular basis to determine whether they are learning appropriately from the instructional program and also to build more effective programs for those youth who do not benefit appropriately from the typical instructional program.

CBE was designed to address problems with Mastery Measurement, defined by Fuchs and Stecker as "mastery of a series of short-term instructional objectives." Research indicates that CBE demonstrates strong reliability and validity. "CBM produces accurate, meaningful information about students’ academic levels and growth and is sensitive to student improvement. When teachers use CBM to influence instructional decisions, students achieve better" (Fuchs & Stecker, n.d). 

CBE differs from traditional assessment models in that "Whereas standardized commercial achievement tests measure broad curriculum areas and/or skills, CBE measures specific skills that are presently being taught in the classroom, usually in basic skills" (Hall & Mengel, 2002).

Hall and Mengel (2002) describe three CBE models:

  1. Curriculum-Based Assessment (CBA)
  2. Precision Teaching
  3. Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM)

These models differ in two respects: "(1) The purpose of the assessment, and (2) Research support for testing procedures and decision-making" (Hall and Mengel, 2002).  However, all models "have in common the basic assumption that one should test what one teaches" (Idol, Nevin, & Paolucci-Whitcomb, 1996). CBE models share the following common characteristics:

  1. "The measurement procedures assess students directly using the materials in which they are being instructed. This involves sampling items from the curriculum.
  2. Administration of each measure is generally brief in duration (typically 1-5 minutes.)
  3. The design is structured such that frequent and repeated measurement is possible and measures are sensitive to change.
  4. Data are usually displayed graphically to allow monitoring of student performance" (Hall & Mengel, 2002).

The goal of CBAs is to measure the rate of students’ responses to instruction, as well as help teachers build more effective instructional programs to increase or enhance student achievement. The visual representation of CBE results in the form of charts and figures allow students to visually inspect their progress over time and encourages students to work towards reaching specific milestones and goals.

Although CBE is primarily used in the subject areas of math, reading and spelling, it is effective in other subject areas in both general and special education classroom settings. For example, Curriculum-Based Vocational Assessment (CBVA) is a type of CBE that is used in career and technical education courses in several Florida counties. It is a systematic, continuous evaluation process to determine student career development and vocational instructional needs. CBVA provides data that can help identify student skills and preferences for IEP development and transition planning (Career and Adult Education, Florida Department of Education, n.d.).


Curriculum-Based Measurement Warehouse
This page contains CBM training materials, intervention ideas, forms, computer graphing spreadsheets, resources, tools and more.

National Center on Intensive Intervention at American Institutes for Research, Tool Charts for Academic Progress Monitoring
This resource presents information about academic progress monitoring tools organized in two charts. One includes tools that are General Outcome Measures (GOMs) and one includes tools that are Mastery Measures (MM). Both charts have three tabs that include ratings on the technical rigor of the tools: psychometric standards, progress monitoring standards and data-based individualized standards.

Using Curriculum-Based Measurement to Improve Achievement (pdf)
This research report discusses what CBM is, how it works and support and training for teachers.

Formative Assessment: Progress Monitoring and Curriculum-Based Measurement Presentation (pdf)
This presentation contains simple descriptions and sample applications of Mastery Measurements and Curriculum-Based Measurement.


Career and Adult Education, Florida Department of Education. (n.d.) An Introduction to Modified Occupational Completion Points

Fuchs, L.S., & Stecker, P.M. (n.d.) Progress Monitoring. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University and Clemson, SC: Clemson University. Retrieved 4/22/09 from

Hall, T., & Mengel, M. (2002). Curriculum-based evaluations. Wakefield, MA: National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum. Retrieved from

Idol, L., Nevin, A., & Paolucci-Whitcomb, P. (1996). Models of curriculum-based assessment. (2nd ed.). Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.

Shinn, M.R. (1989). Curriculum-based measurement: Assessing special children. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Thomas, J., Allman, C., & Beech, M. (2004). Assessment for the diverse classroom: A handbook for teachers. Tallahassee, FL: Florida Department of Education, Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services. Available at

Witt, J.C., Elliot, S.N., Daly III, E.J., Gresham, F.M., & Kramer, J.J. (1998). Assessment of at-risk and special needs children. (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill. (p. 121-122).