Testing just doesn’t add up

I have a reading inventory that gives me a pretty good idea of where the kids are reading, what grade level they’re on, and where I need to work to move them along.  I also have a quick assessment that tracks how fast they are reading, which should show improvement on a weekly basis as they improve their reading skills.  This is really the assessment my district watches.

As I finish up this year’s testing, I’m seeing that the first, really reliable assessment is not matching up to the quick, district assessment.  In fact, it’s so far off that the data really isn’t reliable.  It matches up ok for my really high kids–the ones reading at a 4th and 5th grade level in my 2nd grade classroom.  And it matches up pretty well for my really low readers–the ones reading at the beginning of 1st grade.  But my grade level kids–the ones who are solidly at the grade level they’re supposed to be–show up as well below average on the quick assessment.

So let’s say Ben reads exactly where he should be right now–2nd grade, 8th month.  The reliable test shows this.  He reads about 61 words a minute–that’s the 25th percentile.  The district requires him to read 128 words a minute to be considered in the 75th percentile.  But my 5th grade reader is reading 132 words a minute.  It just doesn’t add up.

We’re really supposed to use a variety of measures to show growth for each child.  But this test not only is inaccurate in this way, it starts to fail for my higher readers in a different way.  Since it shows growth only by how fast the student reads, when a student reads all the words correctly AND with expression and inflection, the scores stop racing higher.  So do I push the kids to just word call?  Nope, that’s not good teaching.  Do parents take me at my word when I say that it’s ok that their child’s score isn’t enormously higher?  Would you? 

There’s always something that says–you’re just not doing enough.  This is the one for this week.


5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mary on April 30, 2010 at 6:05 am

    Thank you! Thank you for posting this! I’ve been unsuccessfully discussing reading for my dyslexic child and the school uses this test to say he’s reading at the 50th percentile at 124 wpm at 5th grade so he’s average. Then we move to accomodations – surprise they are giving him textbooks on tape and reading and scribing tests for him since he’s not reading at a functional level in the classroom. (When they don’t read the science & social studies to him, he tests below proficient.)

    Guess how much reading instruction they put in the IEP???? NONE since he’s at the 50th percentile.


  2. Posted by Mary on April 30, 2010 at 6:06 am

    Lol….posted too fast….

    Thank you for letting me know I’m not insane.


  3. Posted by Liza on May 3, 2010 at 1:12 am

    You are doing the right thing by not pushing the kids to word call. But gosh, it does seem so unfair that the district assessment seems to fail those higher readers.

    I always feel that my kids are doing really well in school until report card time. I feel like the are being sold short — I see from the work being brought home that they have a skill mastered, yet it doesn’t show up that way on the report card. I don’t feel that the way K – 2 is assessed for report cards is fair; that once the kids get to letter grades (A, B, C, etc) that I get a better feel for what they know. Not that I think that we should give Kinders letter grades, but I feel like the letter grades are more concrete and not subjective, like the assessment based report cards seem to be.

    I’m glad you have both types of assessment in your classroom. I hope that more teachers can take your lead. Parents would be comforted to know where their child falls within both assessments, and also to have a better idea of what kinds of books their child is reading.

    YOU ARE doing enough.


    • Thanks :o) Report card time is frustrating when I see the kids do it when we review or on homework, and then they bomb the quarter test. I have to decide which is really the accurate assessment–what I see or what they did last.


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