DD is in first grade. She is still undergoing the full body of tests they give at school for learning issues as well as ADHD, so we are not sure exactly what her diagnosis will be. English is her second language (at home we speak Russian although I am a native English speaker). We do read and do schoolwork at home in English though.
DD has been reading phonetically for a couple of years. However, she has never spoken very well and therefore has a very hard time retelling what she reads. She therefore tends to test something like a 12-13 DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment) on the fluency part but had a combined score of 3 at the beginning of the year and a 6 right now because of the retelling issue. Her focus issues also no doubt play a role?
I think the way they do reading assessment in our school system is really really rigid, but it is the system we are stuck with (I am the breadwinner and my husband is not academically prepared to home school-- if roles were reversed, I would home school) so I am trying to figure out how to help her get better in accordance with their standards. We do read the books they send home (have been very easy books so far) and practice retelling. We also read some more difficult books together and I have her practice there too. She also goes to a tutor once a week who is concentrating on this. Nonetheless, I think mostly due to her expressive language issues and a somewhat smaller vocabulary from starting English later, she is going to have a hard time "passing" reading this year in a way I do not think reflects her actual abilities.
Has anyone dealt with this specifically? What techniques have worked for you to help with the DRA or similar assessment?
I am not familiar with this particular reading assessment (my YoungSon was given many tests, but I don't recall any names, sorry). I wonder what the purpose of this evaluation is. Is it to simply assess current reading functioning? Or perhaps to diagnose specific learning disabilities, dyslexia, etc.?
Part of the IEP (Individualized Education Plan) assessment process is to try to narrow down exactly what is the obstacle to your child's learning. If this test is part of that process, I don't think preparing her to "get better according to their standards" would be in your (or her) best interests. My advice would be to let them see the problems she has, so they can suggest ways to correct her deficits. There are specific teaching strategies designed to address specific needs, and a clear picture of her strengths and challenges will help ascertain which interventions are the best fit. Is your tutor private, or through the school? In either case, it would be great if the school shares the results and plans with the tutor, so both will be able to support each other. Does she actually have communication issues in real life, or is it just the reading/testing format? Speech therapy, specifically pragmatic speech, might be the solution, not teaching the reading itself.
How is her expressive speech in Russian? The answer to that might help to clarify the source of her struggles. I imagine it has not been tested as thoroughly (school probably doesn't have the capacity), but it is not uncommon for kids raised bilingually to be behind at some stages. Don't worry - they catch up, and later have a clear and measurable advantage!
It sounds like you are a very caring and involved mother. Keep it up! Your daughter has a great advocate!
Rhu - mother,grandmother,daughter,sister,friend-foster,adoptive,and biological;not necessarily in that order. Some of it's magic, some of it's tragic, but I had a good life all the way (Jimmy Buffet)