Depending on the measure (and the construct being targeted, e.g., passage fluency, math, etc.) average growth varies whether across grade level or percentile. “Normal growth” can be inferred based on the raw score/percentile pairings of the progress monitoring guide tables. However, when students are performing below grade-level expectations (e.g., well below the 50th percentile), we likely don’t want normal/average growth, but rather higher growth rates so that they begin catching up with their peers over some amount of reasonable time. In other words, we likely want a student performing at the 10th percentile to make higher than average growth on a given measure, so that over time that higher rate of growth relative to peers jumps them off the 10th percentile “track” (and moves them closer to performance at or near the 50th percentile).

Once teachers know a student’s current level of performance and if the student will receive additional instruction/intervention and be progress-monitored, look at the tables and the student’s individual graph to determine reasonable goal(s) for the student. Reasonable, based on where they are performing now, the resources (e.g., time/interventions) available to you and the student, and reasonable with respect to the national norms.

For example, a student who had a raw score of 118 words correct/minute (wcpm) on the fall Passage Reading Fluency benchmark (18th percentile rank) to attain the 50th percentile score by the spring can be reasonable given the amount of time and resources provided to the student. Generally, the number of weeks the student is in school related to their initial test can be used to determine reasonable growth expectations.

Let’s consider a 6th grade student who took the Passage Reading Fluency benchmark screener on October 30th and received a score of 100. By looking at the Progress Monitoring Scoring Guidelines and comparing their score to other 6th graders at that time of year, the student should ideally have had a raw score of 141 (50th percentile score at fall benchmark for Grade 6). So a winter goal for this student would be 158 wcpm, and the spring goal would be 166 wcpm. In other words, the student will have to score 40 wcpm higher by Jan. 15th, and then 48 wcpm higher by May 15th to reach a goal of performing at the 50th percentile based on associated raw scores by the end of the school year.

For planning a strategy of improvement for your student, you will need to consider when you want them to reach their goal. If by taking their benchmark test on October 30th you want your student to reach their winter benchmark goal of 158 wcpm (by Jan. 15th), you have 8 weeks for them to improve 40 wpm, or about 5 wcpm per week. Looking over the longer-term, you are looking for a spring benchmark goal of 166 wcpm (by May 15th), which means you have 23 weeks to see a 48 wcpm improvement, or about 2 wcpm per week growth in raw score over the school year.