Why Calculate Rate of Improvement?

by Karen Brady

Have you ever set goals to try to lose weight? Maybe you want to lose 5 pounds in 6 weeks or maybe you have a more ambitious goal to lose 15 pounds in 10 weeks. How do we calculate the progress we make and set goals when we are trying to lose weight? When we set out to make our weight loss goals, we think to ourselves, “If I want to lose 15 pounds in 10 weeks, how many pounds do I need to lose per week?” We simply take the total amount of weight we want to lose and divide that amount by the number of weeks we have until our goal. If you want to lose 5 pounds in 6 weeks, that is .83 pounds per week. If you want to be more ambitious and lose 15 pounds in 10 weeks, that would be 1.5 pounds per week. You would really have to watch your diet and have a robust exercise plan to reach an ambitious goal of 1.5 pounds per week. You would periodically get on the scale to see how you are doing along the way to meet your goal. If you are on track, you may maintain your diet and exercise regimen. However, if you are not meeting your weekly goal, you may adjust your diet or spend more time at the gym. We generally do not wait until the end of the 10-week period to see if we reached our weight loss goals. We want to know how we are doing along the way!

Although we are not trying to lose ground but gain ground in reading, we want to also set goals and monitor our student’s progress and check in periodically to see how we are doing to reach benchmark goals. Are our students on track to meet our reading proficiency goals or do we need to adjust our instruction to help reach those goals on time?

Progress-monitoring and calculating rate of improvement is the means to do this. Rate of Improvement (ROI) is a mathematical calculation in numeric form that helps us compare individual student performance (attained rate of improvement) to how national and local peers are doing (typical rate of improvement). It is like our scale when we are trying to lose weight. We get a numerical number that we can use to help us determine if we are on track to meet our goals. We periodically, generally weekly or twice per month, monitor students with sensitive and reliable progress-monitoring measures that help us determine if our students are on track to reach their reading goals. We enter these data into a graph that helps us determine mathematically and visually if we are on track and it becomes a line of comparison with other students in our school and students in the nation. The more growth a student needs to make to reach reading proficiency, the more robust the instructional diet needs to be!

Rate of improvement is a powerful tool to help us make those important instructional decisions throughout the school year so that we ensure that our students meet reading goals. We get that feedback along the way and do not wait to the end of the year to learn how slow or fast our students grew. Rate of improvement and progress-monitoring is also a very motivating tool for students and families to see and learn how students are growing. It is just like getting on the scale each week and learning how you are doing toward your weight loss goals. Students are either on track, not on track, or above the expected growth to meet reading goals. It is very motivating to stay on that positive track or change our instructional course if students need to make more growth.

PaTTAN has training videos available to help you get on your way to monitoring your students’ progress through rate of improvement calculation. These videos can give you general information about the benefits of calculating rate of improvement and also how to chart data with a free graphing tool. PaTTAN also has a more advanced video on customized goal setting on how to monitor those students who have significant difficulty meeting reading proficiency. Please access these videos on the PaTTAN YouTube Channel. Also, PaTTAN is also offering introductory and advanced trainings on Rate of Improvement at our regional offices in the fall of 2017 and the spring of 2018. Please see our training calendar for those dates and registration. Feel free reach out to your regional PaTTAN office for assistance on Rate of Improvement and other needs you may have to help your students grow and reach their goals.

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