Saturday, February 2, 2013

Interesting Revelation

Because we requested and were granted the opportunity to work with all of the learning support students for fourth grade on our team, we have been trying a variety of arrangements during testing situations. We want to make sure that each child, identified or not, who needs accommodations is getting exactly what they need with the limited number of people who have.

Our latest arrangement had all of the students without any needs in my classroom, while the other three teachers split those students who needed accommodations. That may sound crazy at first, but it's really no different than my friends who have 35 - 40 kids in the classroom every single day so we thought we'd give it a try.

The setting itself worked quite well for me because the early finishers did Read to Self and Work on Writing while we waited for everybody to get done. What was really interesting was the information I collected because I had the chance to correct portions of the assessment as the students were finishing up.

The first thing I noticed was that our kids know and use their reading strategies. They were able to compare two passages when asked to do so, they could identify key details in the passages, and they were able to give evidence from the story to support their opinion. I was really excited to see the proof of the kids using their strategies!

But.... and this is a huge but... they weren't using the strategies to answer the questions that were asked on the assessment, which was made up of two passages about the Loch Ness Monster and several different types of questions.

Here's what I mean:

One question asked, "What details were given by the author to tell that the lake was a frightening place?" Just about everybody gave me 4 quality details from the story; unfortunately, several kids gave me details about why the monster was frightening instead of giving details about the lake.

Another question asked, "What are two questions you could ask your friend about the kids of animal Nessie is?" Every single student asked two questions that were completely related to the passage, could possibly clarify something that was confusing, or could lead to further reading that would help the students get more information about the monster and Loch Ness. Unfortunately, many of them didn't specifically ask a questions about the kind of animal the monster is, so they didn't get any credit for their questions.

A final example asked, "How is Nessie in the second passage different from the Nessie that is discussed in the first passage?" So many students did a beautiful job comparing the two passages, and what made me especially proud is that they went well beyond saying that one passage was fiction and the other was nonfiction. They wrote some excellent comparisons. Unfortunately, they compared the passages rather than the monsters in each passage so once again they received no credit.

A proficient score on this assessment is 16/20 or higher, and it was certainly hard to see so many kids not hitting that mark when they did such a great job with the strategies. Thankfully, we all recognize that our kids are so much more than 1 score from 1 day. These kids have a solid foundation in using their reading strategies so now it's up to us to figure out what we can do to help them read and understand questions so that they can receive the "official numbers" that match what they truly know how to do.


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