Wednesday, May 30, 2007

When They Test Well, I Feel Good

Last week I gave my kids the DRA Reading Assessment, which is the best way I’ve seen to measure growth in fluency and decoding over time. We give it three times a year in the fall, winter, and spring; the goal that’s been established is to have 60% of the kids meet the standard.

This year, as a grade level, we’re at about 75%. In my own room 80% of the kids, 16 out of 20, met the standard, and that’s the highest I’ve ever gotten.

The morning of the test was incredible. I usually start with the kids who are low and go higher throughout the day, the theory being that the better readers take longer to test. That morning, though, my marginal kids were nailing every book they read and getting to the goal with room to spare. There was one point where I had three of my struggling boys in a row, including my autistic student, all pass, and man it took everything I had not to start dancing around the room. Neat, neat, neat.

There’s a couple of thing I’d attribute the success to.

This year we grouped for reading. I had the high kids, there were two middle groups, and our low students were all together. I can hear some of you saying it’s tracking, but by doing that we were able to get a lower student:teacher ratio and focus more on phonics, which is what those kids needed. We also made it flexible; kids tested in and out based on the tests we used.

I’m also pretty fond of our reading curriculum, from Houghton-Mifflin. There’s a lot of content, the pacing makes good sense, and we’re getting great results. Each week has a story, three phonics stories, and three leveled readers, so we have a lot of options on where to go with the kids.

With my four kids who didn’t meet the standard two of them came to the school in the spring, and another is my high-needs special education student. That leaves one girl who had been here all year who didn’t make it; she’s the kind of kid that I’ve got to do a better job of targeting early on and making sure she gets it.

It makes the work worth it when you can see a truly tangible result like those test scores. Sure, they aren’t everything, but they are something. Anyone who would tell you different is deluded.

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Blogger Mrs. Bluebird said...

To a certain extent, I group my kids by ability as well, and like you, my kids can move in and out of groups depending on their performance. It just makes more sense when we're doing science labs - this way I can have the same lab, basically, but have it modified with advanced, regular, and lower versions. It also allows me to spend more time with my kids who need my help and let my advanced kids be challenged.

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6:53 AM  

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