Posted on May 15, 2013 by Laura Pizzirusso in Special Education.
In Measuring Up: What Educational Testing Really Tells Us by Harvard Graduate School of Education, professor Daniel Koretz has a lot of say about our nation’s “high-stakes testing” and the impact of testing special needs students. Maria Fusrao summarizes Koretz’ findings, providing interview video clips and text on Measure for measures: What do standardized tests really tell us about students and schools? The challenge that we face is avoiding misleadingly low or inflated scores — and if we are in fact testing the same skills. Can we assess if standardized testing can properly demonstrate proficiency? It is a challenge that we need to address.
Testing Limitation 1: Misleadingly Low Scores
Koretz begins by explaining that the test scores have limitations: “scores on those tests have often become misleading, sometimes wildly misleading” and that “we tend to overestimate what tests can do. Tests are not designed to summarize all that students and schools can do.” Ask any teacher, I am sure that he or she will agree that testing competence on one area is only a small portion what what students have learned in a classroom. Add special needs test takers to the mix, and the results can be even more inaccurate. Testing students with special needs is troubling because you need the scores to reflect students’ proficiency, yet Koretz points out that “when students have certain disabilities, their test scores may in fact be misleadingly low.”
Testing Limitation 2: Testing the Same Skills through Testing Accommodations
We also don’t want to go the the other extreme by inflating test scores through accommodations. He explains that “the purpose of an accommodation [larger print, modified room lighting, or a specialized computer screen for vision impaired students] is not to make the students’ scores higher, but to help them score as well as their actual proficiency warrants.” Koretz then speaks of a scenario where a student with dyslexia is tested and suggests that “when the impediments caused by the student’s disability are directly relevant to the knowledge and skills the test is designed to measure,” we may not be measuring what the test intended. Koretz points out that the test taker uses different skills: decoding (barrier for that student) or interpreting the meaning of text, so having the text read to him actually changes that test from a reading comprehension to oral language comprehension.
The testing limitations and their implications should give parents and teachers pause. Does Koretz suggest that standardized testing can’t “accurately” measure special needs abilities? If so, it is tough pill to swallow, for teachers and parents of special needs students. Yet Koretz does provide hope: understanding these limitation helps clarify the testing problem, so we can work toward meeting this challenge.
Image courtesy of Keerati at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Does listening of seeing how your students understand and analyze characters provide a method for you to access their concept of the story?
Once I saw this infographic, I could not stop thinking about it!
Although this was created to help one create and develop characters, I see many ways it can also be used to provide ideas for analyzing characters:
It may never occur to you that as your child reads, that he may also be picking up some bad reading habits. What could be bad about reading? I thought any attempt to read was good effort. It turns out that there are bad reading habits that can negatively impact reading. According to The University of Alabama’s Center for Academic Success, there are five bad reading habits that slow down reading speed, and they also offer some strategies to overcoming them.
1. Silent Voicing
Have you seen your child moving her lips as she silently reads? That can slow her down to reading “about 150 words per minute,” which is equivalent to fast-paced speech. An average elementary school child can read about 200 words per minute (wpm) while an adult can read about 200 – 250 wpm. The Center suggests “Put your fingers on your lips to stop the motion.” When you catch your child doing this, you can show her that she is using his lips to read, and doesn’t have to.
Vocalizing, or using your voice box in the throat – with no sounds also slows you down. They suggest checking for vocalizing by “rest your fingertips lightly against the vocal cord area of your throat. If you feel a vibration, or if you find that your tongue is moving, you are vocalizing.” As an adult, and a pretty quick reader I might add, I was shocked to realize that I do this too!
3. Reading everything at the same speed
The Center also suggests that you should tailor your reading speed to “your purpose for reading and the difficulty level of the material,” a difficult concept to pass down to young readers. The Center maintains, “The more difficult the material, the slower the rate,” and that to me means, it is okay to cut yourself some slack when reading a technical article versus lighter type materials.
4. Regressing (rereading a word, phrase, or sentence) out of habit
Readers can fall into a trap of rereading text, not out of need to comprehend, but because it has become a habit. How can you break out of this? The Center offers a simple visual technique: “Use a card or paper to cover the text after you read it to prevent regressing.” This is great for reading text-heavy books, and also helps youngsters who feel overwhelmed with how much more text on that page that they have to cover.
5. Reading one word at a time
The Center says that “slow readers tend to see only one word at a time,” whereas stronger readers “see several words at a time and their eyes will stop only three or four times as they move across a page.” They recommend: “reading in idea-phrases speeds your reading and improves your understanding of what you have read.” And doing this can be as simple as “Mark the phrases in the sentences of a passage, then practice seeing more than one word at a time.” This seems to be a task best done with more experienced readers.
A great way to model reading speed — and help you to target some poor reading habits that will slow young readers down — to is to read with your children and follow along with Big Universe read-alouds. Let us know which reading habits that you have uncovered.
Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Since 1984, the National Parent Teacher Association has designated the beginning of May to celebrate those that make a difference in the lives of children and young adults every day–Teachers! Big Universe would like to recognize all the teachers and educators out there for making a difference in the lives of children and young adults, as well as show our appreciate for all that they do.
I think any adult can look back on their childhood years and remember their favorite teachers; the ones who went one of their way to help them understand and do their best work. Teachers make an incredible impact on young lives and it’s only right that we take this week to celebrate them.
To celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week in the classroom, you can read a book about a teacher such as Thank You, Mr. Falker, Miss Nelson is Missing, or a Magic School Bus story with Ms. Frizzle. These stories are all concentrate on keeping the teacher central to the story. Encourage classroom discussion on why these teachers are so important. You can also have your class use a few of these writing lessons.
- Compare a favorite teacher to a teacher from a book with the Venn Diagram.
- Write a letter to a favorite teacher using the WRITE section of Big Universe.
- Create your own book about a special teacher using the WRITE section of Big Universe
No matter which activities you do with your class this week, take a moment and remember how special you are, and how even small words of encouragement from a teacher can stay with that child for the rest of their life.
- A Mother’s Journey Acclaimed nonfiction author Sandra Markle presents the daring story of a mother emperor penguin’s struggle to reach the sea, find food, avoid predators, and make her way back to her mate and their newborn chick before they starve. Alan Marks’ luminous illustrations highlight the harsh conditions and stunning landscapes of Antarctica.
- A Zany Zoo Day Mom is in for a surprise when a trip to the zoo brings out the animal in everyone!
- Grandma’s Feather Bed Upbeat, funny and irresistibly singable, this song was made famous by John Denver and now made doubly delightful by Christopher Canyon’s illustrations. Especially if you listen along with Denver, kids will say, play it again! It is all about the cousins, the chicken pie, four hound dogs and a piggy, but as the song says, the best darn thing about Grandmas house was her great big feather bed.
- Emma’s Question A question scritches and scratches at the back of Emma’s throat.Emma is a curious kid. She loves to ask questions,and she loves the silly answers that her grandmother always gives. But now Emma has a very important question, one that she is bursting to ask, one that scritches and scratches at the back of her throat. Her grandmother is sick and has to stay in the hospital. Emma wonders if Grandma will still be able to read to her kindergarten; if she will still make up funny stories over bagels on Wednesdays; if she will still be able to watch her after school.
- We Like the Beach A girl and her mom go for a walk on the beach. They see some of their favorite things.
- Animal Mothers and Babies This book helps children learn to read with descriptions of animal mothers and their babies.
These are just a few of the publisher books about mothers. There are also many Member Books that have been created for and about mothers.
Just as all mothers are unique, each of these titles represents an individual and interesting book to read …
Maybe you will choose to read a book or a poem about mothers …
Maybe you will choose to write and create a book or a poem about mothers …
Find a way to celebrate and share!