The Critical Role of Progress Monitoring

Students who are not at grade level with literacy skills may be receiving intervention through a formal Individualized Education Program (IEP) or through Tier 2/3 support via MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Support). Core education, or Tier 1, is given to all students in a classroom. Tier 2, “supplemental” support, and Tier 3, “intensive” support, may be offered to students who are not meeting grade level standards and have been identified via screening or other measures.

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When a student is receiving additional literacy intervention, whether it is through an IEP or Tier 2 or 3 MTSS, it is crucial that educators are frequently monitoring to see if the support they are providing is making a difference. That progress may be monitored using subtests from the DIBELS 8 assessment (, or taking data during special education sessions. It is then the school team’s responsibility to periodically review these data points to see if sufficient progress is being made. If not, the team needs to consider what changes may be needed to improve student growth. This may include changing intervention programs, the frequency of support, the group size, or a variety of other factors.

If a student has an IEP, progress updates must be sent to parents at each grading period when the student receives their report card, unless some other frequency of reporting is agreed upon and written into the IEP. If a student does not have an IEP, and is receiving Tier 2/3 support, progress updates may not automatically be sent to families. Families must be notified when supplemental support is being initiated with a student, but updates after that point may be very limited.

On progress reports for students with IEP’s, you will see a Goal Status documented for each IEP goal, as shown in the key below.

In addition, you may receive varying details around why that Goal Status was selected. Sometimes you will see percent accuracy data and a breakdown of different skills targeted in the comments section, and you may see a graph of progress data points, as shown below.

For students without an IEP who are receiving Tier 2/3 support, you may not receive any progress updates at all. Regardless of the level of support, know that you have the right to ask for updates, to see progress data, and to ask clarifying questions AT ANY TIME. Send the request for further information IN WRITING to the special education team and principal for students with IEP’s, and to the classroom teacher and principal for students without an IEP who are receiving supplemental support.

For example, the student below has an IEP goal to read multisyllable words. He received a status of “3,” in his progress report, meaning, “Limited progress due to extra time needed.” The comments section specified that he was around 30% accurate. The family wanted more clarifying information, so they emailed and asked which specific vowel patterns had been targeted and how he was doing with each.

It is vitally important that families closely monitor this progress data, ask for clarification and details, and talk with the school team about possible next steps when adequate progress isn’t being made.

Please send your questions to

Emily J. Mora, M.Ed., CCC-SLP