Bert: Now that each student has taken the reading test on the computer, we have a great deal of data that the program has generated for us to better understand what each child knows and is able to do. First of all we can list them in rank order and form small groups – or even ability leveled classrooms – based on their performance.
Ernie: But isn’t that score composed of many different skills? Is each child with low scores deficient in the same areas?
Bert: Good point, Ernie! If we look further into the data generated by the program we can see that all the skills needed at the level of each child’s reading are listed – and areas of need will be marked so teachers know what to work on with the child. So you can zero in on areas of weakness.
Ernie: I am not sure that a student’s answers on that one test show that he or she is weak in that area all the time. And will working on that one skill really make them a better reader? I think of reading as more integrated skills instead of isolated ones.
Bert: But Ernie, you must start somewhere, and this data gives you that starting point, don’t you see?
Ernie: Sometimes a child is a slow reader, weak in fluency. But the students are reading silently on their own on this test…
Bert: Another great comment! The data shows oral reading fluency, too! Yes, it is an estimate, but proven to be accurate over a wide range of students.
Ernie: How does this test relate to the state testing we will have students complete in the spring of the year?
Bert: Yet another thoughtful question! The program has compiled these graphs to show where each child will perform on state testing. Predicted scores based on their performance on this test.
Ernie: But this is only one test, on one day, given on a computer.
Bert: What better way to measure reading accurately?
Ernie: Well I like to listen to my students read, and then discuss the selection with each child, having them retell the important parts and pushing them to think more deeply and infer what the author was really trying to say.
Bert: And then that would be your opinion of the child’s ability, not an objective measure of their ability.
Ernie: Maybe – but it helps me know each of them as a reader, and as a person. And building that relationship is key to my teaching and their learning.
Bert: But Ernie, how can you possibly NOT see what I am trying to show you? That the impartial data from this test, based on the performance of thousands of students nationwide, is more valuable than your spending time with each child in your class.
Ernie: Well, when you put it that way, no. I just can’t see it at all.