About easyCBM Reading Fluency Norms

I think it’s important to start with clarifying that we recommend using the easyCBM norms, rather than the Hasbrouck and Tindal norms (either the original ones or the more recently updated ones) to interpret Oral Reading Fluency scores on the easyCBM measures.

In general, the Hasbrouck and Tindal norms are based on a large sample of data from a variety of schools across the country using a variety of measures (we don’t know what measures they were using, nor do we know anything about the demographics of the students involved). We don’t know what measures the districts used to produce these ORF scores (they could have come from DIBELS, AIMSWEB, other published measures, or simply from passages pulled from texts, etc.), we don’t know for sure what date they gave the measures (beyond the general fall/ winter/ spring), and we don’t know if the data reflect the scores of ALL students at the school (The ORF scores were sent with no additional demographics or information about the measures used for those ORFs) or merely a sub-group of students (for instance, only students at Title schools, or only those struggling with reading. Gerald Tindal, who co-authored the Hasbrouck and Tindal norms, is one of the developers of easyCBM, and thus we are quite familiar with the process used in creating the Hasbrouck and Tindal norms.

In contrast, easyCBM norms are based on the students participating in fall/winter/spring benchmark tests (they had to take all three to be included in the norm grouping) in school year 2018 – 2019 from districts using easyCBM as a universal screener three times per year, with follow up progress monitoring.

Because easyCBM is built to be used for schools implementing RTI, it is fairly safe to assume that students whose scores indicate they are at risk (significantly below the 50th percentiles, for instance) receive additional intervention intended to accelerate their learning beyond core instruction alone. We base our numbers on actual student growth from the norm grouping, so it is likely to be fairly representative of the growth one would expect for students at the various risk levels if they are provided with tiered instruction and progress monitoring.

Detailed information about the norm sampling for easyCBM can be found at:


The easyCBM norms are updated on a five-year cycle, our most recent update was completed in the summer of 2020.

The norms established for easyCBM should be applicable to students in your school, yes, as the norm group is nationally representative, by design.

The easyCBM passages were developed to be of comparable difficulty/readability using a multi-pronged approach. First, during initial drafting, they were calibrated using the Flesch-Kinkaid readability scale available on MS Word, using a Mac computer (the scale actually returns different numbers on Windows machines using some versions of MS Word for some reason, so we calibrated all of them using the same computer/ version of Word). Then, they were reviewed for grade-level appropriateness by a cadre of grade-level teachers. Finally, they were piloted with grade-level students taking 4 passages a day for 5 days in a row, with the order in which the passages were taken shuffled to account for order effect) and adjusted (made slightly more difficult or slightly easier) if the scores from the piloting indicated that a particular passage was slightly harder or slightly easier than the other passages. Following this initial piloting and adjustment period, the passages were re-analyzed in a separate study of alternate form reliability, and found to be comparable to one another, across all same-grade passages (both Benchmark and Progress Monitoring). Given this multi-step process, it is not surprising that there might be slight variation in the readability reported by a later Flesch-Kinkaid analysis, and this variation should not be cause for concern. The Flesch-Kinkaid formula calculates readability based on the number of syllables per word and the number of words per sentence. Although this is part of what makes a passage accessible for a reader, it is not the only thing one must consider.

Our most complete sources of background information on this process will be the Technical Reports. Each time we develop an assessment, we write up the process of development (including item creation, review, piloting, and revision) and provide that information in the form of a Technical Report. These reports contain detailed information about the design considerations and technical adequacy of each of the measures related to each type of measure. You can find links to them at: http://www.brtprojects.org/publications/technical-reports

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