Is this standard for Report Cards? 1st grade - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 02-26-2012, 06:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My girls (1st grade) got their first ever report cards (except preschool-type written reports- they did not do Kindergarten). They did well, but the actual report card is so different than what I used when I was teaching that it was basically not terribly helpful.

It is a number scale (1-4--- with one being beginning skill toward grade level and 4 being exceeds grade level), which is fine. Lots of places use various methods of numbers/letters/etc. 

My problem (and DHs) is that they would not give specifics. Both DDs got 4 in reading, but no details. So though they are above grade level (which I know), we dont know for sure how much or even what reading level (Fountas & Pinnell) they are working on. I actually met with the teacher (not just about this, but a few other things I wanted clarified or discussed)-- and asked her point blank about reading. I got a run-around that the district does not provide parents with reading levels, it is a multi-faceted scale based on guided reading tests, observation, sight word, etc....yes, I get that. I totally am aware that a score is just a score. But also, as an educator- I KNOW that a score can be helpful to see progress. She says they have made progress. 


Quite frankly, all the report card shows is that they are at or above grade level depending on the area. Nothing specific...and some of the written comments contradict the number given (such as practice math facts in comments, one DD got a 4 in math fact knowledge).

Even though my DDs are ahead in reading, I have seen very little progress in that area at school. I dont care so much that they are ahead (or behind), but rather whereever they are - I want them moving forward. and I want proof of it. I am used to working, and sharing data with parents--- from a Spec.Ed background that is key to qualification, meeting IEP goals, and assessment.

I have seen strides in writing, math, and spelling....but they bring nothing home from reading and from what I gather (they are 6 after all so I dont think it is entirely accurate) they read to and with partners. They even said they (them and two other kids in their class) read 'harder' books than other kids so they dont work with the teacher, but read with a friend. WHAT?!? 

Does your district provide testing/assessment data (reading levels, etc)?

I really like the teacher, but am frustrated at the lack of information shared. I dont want to be one of 'those' parents, but it seems so vague. If we moved and I took that report card to a new school- they would really have little to guide them in where DDs were besides at or above grade level standards (for our district). 


 
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#2 of 17 Old 02-26-2012, 06:59 PM
 
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At the end of first grade, DS took a computerized Lexile reading comprehension test, but up until then there was no standardized reading test. So his K and first teacher knew he was above grade level, but perhaps not exactly how above grade level. Standardized testing for other subjects doesn't start until the end of second grade.

 

Now that he's in second grade, his Lexile is right around 1200, which is high school level. I have a very laid-back approach, based on my kid's personality. There's no way they can easily accommodate his level in his public elementary school, AND DS has been pretty adamant that he does NOT want to be pulled out of class. So he's in the highest second grade group, as ridiculous as that is, and he reads much higher level books at home.

 

That said, this year they are working a lot on writing summaries of books, and that was something new for him. (He likes to tell every detail.)

 

Do your kids enjoy reading time at school? Do they read for pleasure at home? It sounds like they already read well above grade level, so is there something specific you'd like them to improve on (reading with expression, comprehension, etc.)?

-e

 

p.s. Up to this point in second grade, we have exactly the same type of report cards -- 1-4, with room for comments at the end.


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#3 of 17 Old 02-26-2012, 07:03 PM
 
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That fits the report card format our school uses from K-4. No specifics are shared. In fact that's more than I'm getting from my older kids' high school report cards: because of teacher job action there are no report cards at all this year!

 

Anyway, back to the K-4 reports, in a non-job-action year. The comments are "canned," pulled from a menu in a report card template, and they are supposed to suggest ways the child could continue to learn over the next term. The comment about working on math facts could be that sort of thing -- because even kids working above grade level can raise the bar on speed and automaticity with math facts -- while by contrast as suggestion to work on long division wouldn't really be appropriate even if everything else in the curriculum had been firmly mastered, since it isn't being taught and wouldn't be supported in a 1st grade classroom.

 

The assumption where I live is that the report cards are like the minutes of a meeting -- just the bare bones for the permanent school record -- with none of the interesting narrative details. Anything more detailed and specific would be discussed face-to-face in a parent-teacher interview. Personally I think it's fine that way. I'm of the opinion that specific grades just give the illusion of sharing specific meaningful information about a child's learning when in fact they're nothing more of a snapshot of the child's performance at a particular time in a particular defined set of tasks. I'd far rather talk to the teacher and hear about my child's social dynamics in the classroom, intellectual adventurousness, confidence, lateral thinking, hurdles overcome, etc. etc..

 

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#4 of 17 Old 02-26-2012, 07:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by LuckyMommaToo View Post

 

Do your kids enjoy reading time at school? Do they read for pleasure at home? It sounds like they already read well above grade level, so is there something specific you'd like them to improve on (reading with expression, comprehension, etc.)?

 

 

 


They read constantly at home and are much more exploratory in book choices. At school, they cannot even check out 'chapter' books until 2nd grade during library time-- this gives them the idea that they should not read them or that portion of the library is is not for 1st graders. My idea is books are for everyone (those in an elementary library). Luckily-- the librarian allows them to come after school and pick anything they want!! Love her!

 

 

They sort of enjoy it. They like reading with 'partners' but have expressed several times that they would like to work with the teacher during reading and they have to read ALL the books in the classroom library before they can free choose  from the K-3 bookroom(and they are slowly working their way through them). Neither DD like this since there are books they simply do not care about or have interest in reading. That said--- they get to choose 5 books a week to read, 3 at their level (color coded-- they are at the highest level in the classroom) and 2 at any level.

 

Considering they are at the highest level and have been since the start of the year, they both are reading some lower level books to complete the library. 

 

I would like them to improve on summarizing, some vocabulary they get into that they may not be familiar with, and for one DD (has some social delays) on interpreting emotions in text (she struggles with this and actually prefers factual information).

 

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 Anything more detailed and specific would be discussed face-to-face in a parent-teacher interview. Personally I think it's fine that way. I'm of the opinion that specific grades just give the illusion of sharing specific meaningful information about a child's learning. I'd far rather talk to the teacher.

 

 

I wouldnt mind if they would share the info face to face either, I could make note and move on. But even when asked, the teacher did not share the information.

 

We only have parent teacher conferences once a year (unless needed) so that is not that helpful either. I have talked the teacher directly and the most info I got was they are 'above grade level'. Well...that coudl mean a few months above grade level or years. From what I can tell, (online assessment, my own personal knowledge from teaching in the past, etc) they are about 2 years ahead in comprehension and even higher in word recognition.

 

They dont do 'grades' rather just if a child is at, below, or above grade standards.
 

 

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#5 of 17 Old 02-26-2012, 08:33 PM
 
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Originally Posted by KCMichigan View Post

 

I wouldnt mind if they would share the info face to face either, I could make note and move on. But even when asked, the teacher did not share the information.

 

We only have parent teacher conferences once a year (unless needed) so that is not that helpful either.

 


Can you not request conferences at any time? There are no scheduled p-t conferences at our school at all, but we are always welcome to request one.
 

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I have talked the teacher directly and the most info I got was they are 'above grade level'. Well...that coudl mean a few months above grade level or years. From what I can tell, (online assessment, my own personal knowledge from teaching in the past, etc) they are about 2 years ahead in comprehension and even higher in word recognition.

 

They dont do 'grades' rather just if a child is at, below, or above grade standards.


Ah, it sounds like you are looking for measurements of your kids against external standardized benchmarks. We don't get that info either except once in 4th grade and once in 7th in math and literacy. It sounds like there's a different mentality here about communication between parents and teachers and about what constitutes successful education. Here there's more emphasis on narrative communication than on ranking kids against benchmarks, and more emphasis on holistic growth through education than on test scores.

 

Miranda

 


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#6 of 17 Old 02-26-2012, 08:45 PM
 
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Yeah, my kids got the same report cards when they started first grade. Not really too much to go by. They were also tested a few times a year, and those tests gave a more accurate picture of where they stood in relation to reading and math.

 

I think the best thing to do is schedule a parent-teacher conference with your child's teacher. Usually there's just one in the fall where I live, but you can request one at any time.  Having a conversation with your teacher will help sort things out. I doubt very she would think you are one of "those moms"  at all.  Your girls sound like super readers, which is great!

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#7 of 17 Old 02-26-2012, 08:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Can you not request conferences at any time? There are no scheduled p-t conferences at our school at all, but we are always welcome to request one.
 


Ah, it sounds like you are looking for measurements of your kids against external standardized benchmarks. We don't get that info either except once in 4th grade and once in 7th in math and literacy. It sounds like there's a different mentality here about communication between parents and teachers and about what constitutes successful education. Here there's more emphasis on narrative communication than on ranking kids against benchmarks, and more emphasis on holistic growth through education than on test scores.

 

Miranda

 


I did request a conference.

 

It is not so much that I want standardized benchmarks-- though I do tend to fall back on that data since my clinical training/teaching preparation program leans heavily toward standardized data so I am aware of it and also gravitate toward it, though I am fully knowledgeable that it is a snapshot and not a good holistic view. It is also the guide which most schools are formatted for evaluation purposes and I dislike that it is not shared. The teachers do assessments that are standardized, a lot of it is observational or work samples (such as in spelling and math-- which I can see growth visually through artifacts sent home). Nothing is sent home for reading and it is 1-2 hours a day---so I really wanted more information on what they were learning and what skills they had made based on what I know they are capable of.

 

I really wanted to see where they were so I could see interpersonal growth. If DD1 is reading at X level and X type of books at the start of the year--- I want to be able to look at if she has moved forward in her learning. Not compared to other students, but compared to her skills at the start of the year. The information the school gives me is both DDs are above grade level.... .not that they made progress, but simply that they have met the grade level standards.  My conversation with the teacher did not enlighten me on exactly what they were learning for reading and where they were moving forward/learning from (or rather a purpose). A report card that says above grade level now and again that they are above grade level in 6 months tells me very little - I want clarification. In whatever format the school can offer.

 

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#8 of 17 Old 02-26-2012, 08:52 PM
 
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Those are "standards based" grades aren't so much for your benefit as a needed paper trail for administrators and teachers. We starting getting them in 1st grade too. They took us a couple years to really figure out... like, some teachers will give a "4" in an area they simply "know" your child is advanced. Some will only give "4's" if a child is actually being GIVEN and completing advanced level work. Some teachers want to give "room to grow" in report cards and so may put a child who is well-above grade level as a "3" first semester. Some go by percentages and so a kid who is getting 80 percent or higher on GRADE LEVEL work will get a "4." Some areas don't allow "4's'" like penmanship. We just learned that they are meaningless. Find out how your child is doing by asking specific questions in conferences. If you must go to another school, they aren't going to be particularly interested in the report cards either. They know the drill and usually they'll want to do their own assessments. Unless a "2" shows up, I'd just bypass the grades and wait for parent/teacher conferences to get a real feel for how your child is doing.

 

Oh, and it's very common for teachers at that age to put "practice math facts" on ALL the report cards as it's just a standard directive. It may have nothing to do with your individual child.

 

As for assessments, our district always provided scores but honestly, those scores weren't particularly helpful. Many time it was just another letter, number or grade level. They never came with a list of high level books that might interest a very young reader and still offer the complexity they craved (which is more what I needed.) The level differences in K, 1st and 2nd can seem substantial but really, after the 3rd grade, the differences between levels can be minor. Plus, those assessments are just a snapshot of your child that day. I remember my DD had to take the AR placement test beginning of 6th grade and only tested 6th grade level. Now, she'd tested 6th grade level reading in kindergarten. Sure enough, end of year she was assessed again and topped the test at 12+ level which she retained the rest of her middle school career. That first test was just a fluke, a bad day. Since it didn't really effect her to have a lower assessment that first time, we just let it go. If your child is an active and strong reader, you really don't have to worry about progress. You'll see her grow in her choices of material, her speed, her fluency.

 

I know, this won't seem a helpful response at all but I do understand where you are coming from and just sharing what we learned over the years. Don't depend on report cards to actually tell you where your child is. Just give them a glance 


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#9 of 17 Old 02-26-2012, 11:45 PM
 
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Our school tracks "reading level" but it's pretty worthless because they use DRA testing and they can't, according to the test makers, test the children more than 1 year ahead of their current grade level. As a result, both of my kids got tested at 2 DRA levels below the highest level they could go for the year in the fall. In the spring, they'll be tested at the highest level they can be tested at (2 whole levels ahead!) and thus demonstrate "progress". It's a load of cr*p and the teachers know it.

 

The truth is that once they reach fluency in reading, exact level becomes less important, unless the child is having trouble. So, dd in 2nd grade, is reading somewhere between a 5th and a 6th grade level. I can judge that based on the levels of the books that she checks out from the library. She reads the 5th-6th grade books with ease and total comprehension. She whizzes through anything lower in less than an hour. So, the level to "challenge" her is probably about 7th grade. Alas, there aren't that many books written at that level that are appropriate for a 7 year old. During reading time, her higher level group is working on expanding the genres they read (adding more non-fiction), linking what they've read to their writing and reading for comprehension. Realistically, that's about all I can expect from a classroom where some kids are still emerging readers. Would I like to see, on paper, that my child is making "progress"? Yes, but only because I'm an empiricist at heart. When I stop to think about it, it's more important right now that she reads for fun, that she's motivated to read and that she continue to read a lot. She's gaining an amazing vocabulary ("omen" is the word of the day, only I can't convince her that it's not pronounced like "amen"!)

 

I'm a little more ticked with my son's reading instruction right now, because I'm seeing some holes in his ability to draw conclusions from factual texts. He's still reading above grade level, but I don't think he's gotten the kind of instruction that HE needs to improve his reading skills. I'm about to have a talk with his teachers because I need to make sure he's got the reading skills and the study skills to succeed when he moves to middle school. Right now, the child has no work habits because he's not had to work more than about 5 minutes on any homework assignment. Middle school is going to be a complete shock.

 

 


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Originally Posted by KCMichigan View Post
It is not so much that I want standardized benchmarks-- though I do tend to fall back on that data since my clinical training/teaching preparation program leans heavily toward standardized data so I am aware of it and also gravitate toward it, though I am fully knowledgeable that it is a snapshot and not a good holistic view. It is also the guide which most schools are formatted for evaluation purposes and I dislike that it is not shared. The teachers do assessments that are standardized, a lot of it is observational or work samples (such as in spelling and math-- which I can see growth visually through artifacts sent home). Nothing is sent home for reading and it is 1-2 hours a day---so I really wanted more information on what they were learning and what skills they had made based on what I know they are capable of.

 


I had a similar issue with my son's first and second grade teacher. We were not allowed to see the results of standardized tests. The school administered the tests three times a year and had decided, for some reason, that parents were not to be allowed to see the scores. 

 

Another parent and I checked the parent handbook for the school system, which placed standardized test scores squarely in the child's portfolio and named them as something that the school, by state law, would give parents within a week. I mailed the school a letter, registered mail, with a signature, for the child's record file. The school office refused to sign for the letter. 

 

Finally I called the main office for the system and spoke to the assistant superintendent in charge of testing. He attempted to put me off by telling me that the tests were unimportant. By this time I was so suspicious, I was ready to sue! Keep in mind, these are scores that the school system said on its website would be displayed in the classroom and that the students might be given. I pointed out that the behavior was reducing my trust and the trust of other parents and that we had a legal right to see the scores. His reaction was very interesting. I mean, he must have thought I was completely overreacting, but he got the scores to me within a day.

 

When we walked into third grade, I told the teacher that I expected to have all scores shared with me at parent-teacher conferences. At the last conference, she brought out the scores and we both agreed that my son's progress on the reading score was misleading, because he's really not reading that well. (That is another story--I am not surprised that my kid has learned to game the standardized test in his weak subject.) We did not have all this stonewalling--she shared, we interpreted, that was it. 

 

Anyway, the school rule in our system is based on a state law which is based on a federal law that says parents have the right to see their children's academic records, and the test scores are part of that. Maybe you can do an end-run around the confrontations and tell the teacher you want to make sure you're getting books out of the public library at the right level? My guess is you're going to have to go over her head, though. :(


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#11 of 17 Old 02-27-2012, 07:45 AM
 
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Yeah, we get equally useless report cards.  The comments tend to be behavior only (as I hear from other parents), so my passive, well-performing kids get bupkiss.

 

We get one PT conference a year as a matter of course, though we're told that we can schedule one anytime.  I feel actively discouraged from doing so, however.  At the second quarter, our kindergarten teacher said that conference times were reserved for children with special educational services, but please feel free to contact her if you have questions.  (No invitation for a conference.)  The 4th grade teacher has said nothing.  Worse, when a kid in in an intervention process that's not yet complete, the school seems to have a policy of clamping down, such that emails aren't even given a response.  Since both my kids are between intervention meetings (dealing with accelerations and putting special ed services into place), I'm now evidently persona non grata.  No teacher has spoken to me since December. 

 

In years when we don't go through the intervention dance in the second half of the year, I've felt as though I've gotten good "off the record" feedback when I needed it.  A quick email - hey, now that you've assessed the kids this quarter again, can you tell me what level my child is reading -- seems to get me the information I need.

 

Captinoptimism, it might help to let it be known that you are specifically referring to those rules that give you access to your child's file.  It's called FERPA.  I do make a habit of working into these meetings that I'm a university professor and that I understand FERPA.  I tend to say it in a backwards way - yes, public education, not enough resources, beholden to FERPA, yada yada.

 

DRA ~ DRA is not normed beyond more than one grade level above.  Our kindergarten teacher got taken to task by the district curriculum coordinator at our last intervention meeting for stopping at the 1 grade level above rule.  She told the teacher under no uncertain terms that if a child hit the top of the DRA for their grade, then they should shift to other tests that are more appropriate for testing out of level.  I nearly wanted to reach across the table and kiss her.  (Note that my question to the teacher after that meeting asking for clarification of DS' reading level has not been answered.  See rant above.)

 

Whew, a little question about useless report cards seems to have brought out a lot from me. dizzy.gif

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#12 of 17 Old 02-27-2012, 01:17 PM
 
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Yes, our report cards are similarly noninofrmational. DD has been getting the same canned comments for three years now. I also have never been given a reading level. She was given some kind of test that gave a probability of "reading success" and got a 99%. Oh, and spelling was 99th% and all the comprehension questions were correct. That's all I know.

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I didn't have a great deal of success in asking for enrichment in our year of ps--hopefully your mileage will vary!--but I did find it easier to track DS's progress on my own.

 

There are some resources online to look at some of this--you can find the lexile for most books your child is reading, then google the lexile grade level equivalent. You can give your child excerpts for a standardized test (our state has them available online, and I'm sure others must also). Some universities also offer (relatively) inexpensive achievement testing.

 

We did a year of public school, and now homeschool, and in both situations I have found it personally reassuring to write down some of DS's favorite books throughout the year--not as formal as a reading log, but just a record of things he's liked.

 

But, yes, I had a similar reaction to DS's first report card.

 

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#14 of 17 Old 02-28-2012, 12:05 PM
 
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Wow, the "holding" on to data is really odd to me. We have 2 conferences a year (probably will go down to one next year because of budget cuts), and the teachers routinely share the state test scores, the DRA scores and the DIBELS scores with us. It's clearly part of their shtick for all parents. And then they acknowledge to us in the next breath that the tests aren't a great reflection of what our kids can do.

 

The thing that concerns me, however, is what the districts are doing with all that data. A lot of them are selling it to test makers (without identifiers, but still they're making money off of my kids' data, and I'm not pleased).


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#15 of 17 Old 02-28-2012, 02:21 PM
 
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Wow, the "holding" on to data is really odd to me. 


Perhaps it's just a matter of not according the data more weight than it deserves. It has the allure of being objective, and therefore assumed to be "accurate" in some sense, but there are so many factors that can make the data imperfect or even patently misleading.

 

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#16 of 17 Old 02-29-2012, 05:03 AM
 
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Perhaps it's just a matter of not according the data more weight than it deserves. It has the allure of being objective, and therefore assumed to be "accurate" in some sense, but there are so many factors that can make the data imperfect or even patently misleading.

 

Miranda


All right, so, in that case, why have the teachers base their recommendations for the child on the data? Also, why is there a law asserting that parents have a right to this data? (Eep, sorry, Geofizz, yes, of course I meant FERPA.)  At our school, there was a policy of posting all the students' scores with their names taken off, by class, at the same time as we weren't being given the scores when we requested them. 

 

All three of the parents who were trying to get access to our children's second-grade MAPS scores last year had kids who were gifted. I think the principal did not want to give our children any special treatment or services. I know for my son, who was struggling with reading and who had this outrageously high, outlier math score, there was some possibility of my demanding they test him for a learning disability. (I know that they wouldn't want THAT, because they actively hide the procedure for requesting SPED evaluations from the parents.) 

 

Yes, as parents, we should not give the data more weight than it deserves. The school, on the other hand, doesn't have a leg to stand on if they are administering tests to our kids and telling us we don't need to see the results. 

 

What should happen is, the teacher should meet with each parent, at the very least when the parents request it, and present the scores in the context of the child's class work. And frankly, her union should have negotiated with the school system for her to be paid for parent-teacher conference time--that, at least, is true of our school. 

 


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#17 of 17 Old 02-29-2012, 07:17 AM
 
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We were always given the data regarding standardized tests, but there have been aspects of dds' assessments and report cards that were similarly unhelpful.  For instance, I recall the same 1-4 rating scale in K.  If you got a 4 on something the first quarter, you weren't tested on that area again at all.  One of the math requirements for K was to be able to count to 100.  They tested the kids up to 100 and then stopped and, likewise, if you could count to 100 in quarter one, the teacher just wrote in "100" as how high the child could count for the rest of the year.

 

It has gotten somewhat better as they've gotten older, but there are measures that they've topped out and then no growth was shown thereafter.  For instance, dd13 took lexile tests off and on until she was 10.  Once she hit 1500 at 10, they never gave her the test again b/c, I guess, the one they were using didn't distinguish #s beyond that 1500+ point.

 

Dd11 this year has one area that is bugging me as well.  Her ALP (advanced learning plan) goal for Language Arts is to improve her vocabulary.  That is totally silly IMHO -- one b/c there was not pre-test given (and, consequently, no post test), and two b/c the only measures we have of her vocabulary are all at or above the 99th percentile (WISC, the vocab part of the NCLB test which she hit the ceiling on, etc.).  It sounds like "improve vocab" was the goal that was suggested to her entire lit class for LA ALP goals.  You'd think that they'd individualize it to the specific kid and what s/he actually could use to grow on.

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