April 20, 2024

Q&A – ROI for non-normed measures



Great question from Amber:

For the past two years, I have worked in an Educational Life Skills Program for students with significant cognitive disabilities.  Last year, we discovered a progress monitoring tool called “Significant Cognitive Disabilities” developed by The Research Institute on Progress Monitoring. (you can go to www.progressmonitoring.org for more information) We thought that this would be an excellent tool to track our students growth since the CBM’s on AIMSweb were too difficult for most of our students.  Our special education teachers and aides learned all of the different assessments and began testing our students weekly and tracking their progress in an Excel file.  At that time, I had an intern who was great at Excel and created the graphs that we needed. Now with pressure added to demonstrate growth in student performance, and then use that information to guide instruction, we were looking for a better way to show rate of improvement.  This is when I happened upon your wonderful webpage! You all provide a lot of useful information, but I have an important question that may just be unique for my program.  I need to create a better graph(s) than what we have. I have to show rate of improvement. When I read through your Diego example, I learned that you show ROI by graphing slope. However, slope is determined by benchmark data. We dont have any predetermined benchmark data, just progress monitoring data which varies greatly from student to student and of course by different assessments. The progress monitoring tool that we are using was never normed. We were hoping to norm it using our population of students and then have ROI data. Is it possible to create a graph that will show ROI data per student, per grade, and then program wide? If so, how? Thank you very much for taking the time to read this message.


A previous Q&A was referring to calculating average ROI for groups of students. The directions on that post are one way of calculating average ROI for groups of students.  You may want to review information on how to create local benchmarks; however, if the students’ scores vary considerably, it might not make sense to make local benchmarks.

Stewart, L. H. & Silberglitt, B. (2008). Best practices in developing academic local norms. In A. Thomas and J. Grimes (Eds.) Best practices in school psychology V. (Vol. 2, pp. 225-242). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

You could certainly set up your Excel spreadsheets so that you have all of your students per grade on one sheet, then choose to graph their data individually to see if growth is occurring.  If you organize the students by grade level for the whole program, you could then graph grade-level data as well.

Keep in mind, too, that depending on the type of data you are graphing, sometimes the visual analysis is sufficient and a ROI statistic (i.e., slope) does not always make sense.