Using Classworks for Special Education: Fall

January 9, 2024

Special Educators, it’s fall! You’ve made it through the often chaotic buzz of back-to-school.

Let’s discuss the next steps in your Classworks journey for using the program to support Special Education.

Set Your Students Up for Success with Specially Designed Instruction
Now is the time to be sure your kids are taking time to work on their individualized learning paths. Remember, each student’s assessment data adjusts their path, turning on the skills they are ready to learn and apply independently.

Classworks recommends that students spend a minimum of 30 minutes weekly on individualized learning in each content area, completing an average of six to eight individualized learning units each month. Quality is as important as quantity when it comes to achieving growth! Our data shows that when students achieve 80% or higher on their unit scores, it has a proven impact on their growth. Make that a goal!

Try this: Here’s how to monitor your student’s ILPs and specific student-level details.

If you’re using Classworks instruction to support IEP goals for your students, remember that you can add or remove skills in their learning path or create custom assignments to support their goals.


The units of instruction are the heart of Classworks. Each student’s Individualized Learning Path consists of multiple units of Classworks instruction. What is a unit? A Classworks instructional unit includes a Mini-Lesson, which provides direct instruction to review or reteach the skill, game-like activities to apply learning, and a Quick Quiz - a short formative check for mastery. Use this quick student-facing video to show students how to complete these lessons.

Modeling how to complete a mini-lesson helps students understand their expectations. View our tips for modeling a mini-lesson. While mini-lessons may be bite-sized, there is nothing mini about the power lessons hold! Remind students to take their time. Many teachers have students use the digital notes feature in Classworks to take notes on the lesson or have a pencil and paper handy. Once completed, you can check the amount of time they spent in each lesson. Often, if students don’t master the unit, it’s because they’ve rushed through the mini-lesson.

In addition to the units of instruction that are more game-like, students encounter close reading passages and problem-solving activities in their learning progression. These require more reading and deeper comprehension. If you find your students continually struggling with these types of activities, you can turn them off until you’ve had a chance to provide some added support.

Progress Monitoring

At this point in the year, you should have skill-based Progress Monitoring turned on for students, especially if you use it to track and measure progress toward IEP goals. Once the IEP has been written and SDI and services have been established, the only thing left to do is select the right progress monitoring probe to measure student growth. Classworks makes this easy. Each probe is aligned to the standards for the student’s enrolled grade and their present level.

Taking Action on Progress Monitoring Data

Once students have taken three probes, you have a trend line available to help you predict how students will perform. After four weeks, it’s time to analyze the data and ensure students are progressing the way you want. You want to see early on if adjustments are needed. Classworks graphs make it easy to see if the student is making progress. Pro tip: students who understand the "why" for these probes are likely to put forward their best effort. Share the graphed results with your students and help them set goals for their performance.

4-point Rule

  • The 4-point rule is a widely recognized method of analyzing progress monitoring data. After four CBM probes have been completed, make decisions about the student's performance and the effectiveness of instruction.
  • If all four data points are above the goal line, You can increase the ROI goal to Aggressive or increase the CBM level and continue the instruction.
  • If all four data points are below the goal line, it’s time to form a hypothesis about why interventions aren’t working and determine whether to modify instructional delivery, content, or methodology to suit the student’s learning needs better. Learn more about how to do this at our Fall Summit Session, Analyzing the Data and Making Changes to Your Intervention,
  • If the four data points are above and below the goal line, continue with instruction and data collection until a trend emerges.
    Classworks provides coaching sessions to help you understand how to analyze your progress monitoring data!

Chat with us from within Classworks or email to request training.

Try this: Share each student's graphs to get them excited about their progress and encourage them to beat the green line!

IEP Goals

As it becomes time to create new IEP goals for students, Classworks data is there for you! Creating measurable, ambitious, and attainable IEP goals begins with understanding where your student is and what they are ready to work on. Classworks provides the data to create measurable, individualized academic goals! You have assessments to identify present levels of performance, standards and skills-based goals and objectives, and automated progress monitoring on the selected objectives. You can be confident that each student is working on math and reading activities that are exactly what the IEP has identified.

Try this: Steps to using Classworks data to write an IEP goal. IEP in Classworks.

You’ve Got Homework!
Don’t forget to keep the momentum going strong by completing the online Classworks Smartguide courses, designed to set you and your team up for success in Classworks. Here’s how to access the online course.

Real-World Example
Special Education

Mr. Shaw is a special education teacher who aims to progress monitor the students on his caseload and effectively document their progress through their specific short and long-term IEP goals. Let’s follow along as he tackles month two.

Week 5

I cannot believe I am in month two already. My students have made such significant progress in their ILP in Classworks. I will continue to monitor the students and assist when needed. Since I know I can start creating IEP goals next week, now is a necessary time to ensure my students are comfortable with their ILP.

Weeks 6, 7, 8

Now that we have implemented Classworks for 6-9 weeks, I can see the points of progress monitoring data to help me determine any adjustments needed in the learning path and have the data necessary to create IEP goals. 

I looked at the Rate of Improvement (ROI) tab at the top right of the screen in Classworks for Progress Monitoring today. This tab makes it easy for me to monitor my students’ engagement with Progress Monitoring quickly. I can see that two of my students have completed at least three probes out of 6! I’ll need to recognize their hard work! I can also see that Connie hasn’t completed three probes out of the six weeks her session has been active. I know this because her ROI still says TBD, which only happens until the three baseline scores are present. I made a note to have a quick conversation with her about this and learn how to support her best. I can also see that two of my students are making the expected progress and are “On Target.” 
Now, I will spend time looking at students' 4-points of data to make decisions about their performance and the effectiveness of instruction, considering the 4-point rule. 
This screen shows Audrey is “on target” with her 2nd-grade level Algebra probes. Audrey is a 5th grader whose present level is 2nd grade. Her IEP goal is tied to Algebra and Operational Thinking. I’m relieved she’s progressing, but I need more detail to plan instruction thoughtfully. When I click “View Detail,” I see a visual of each performance, including how much time she spends on each probe. I’m using these notes to add a narrative with details about instructional practices, behavioral support, and attendance. 
Scrolling down further, I see the “Cumulative Question Responses” chart. I use this information to see the exact question Audrey worked on during each CBM and which answer choice she chose when she made a mistake.
I’ve been working with Audrey on understanding symbols used in math equations. So, I clicked the first red circle on the first row. This is the question Audrey worked on as part of her Week 2 CBM. The X shows Audrey’s response. The “Check mark” shows the correct answer. This detail is exciting to see– it helps me plan targeted support. 
Stay tuned as we check in with Mr. Shaw during the next month for ways to utilize Classworks for special education.

District Leaders
Now that the schools within your district have been using Classworks for over a month, you can view valuable insight data within Classworks to get a district-level view of student progress and academic needs in the Insights tab. During month two, we recommend you look at the Individual Learning data; this will let you know the number of students working in Classworks and let you dig into the breakdown of the number of students in Classworks and time on task within each school. This data will give you a launch pad for discussions for specific schools in your district.

Next, we’ll discuss the other features you can uncover in Insights.

What’s Next?
In the next installment of this series, we’ll talk about how to utilize our reports in your IEP documentation system.

Need Help?
Chat with us using the button below or from within Classworks, or email us at Let us help ensure you see the success we know is possible with Classworks. 

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