Wednesday, February 12, 2014

RSA part 2:

I have engaged many, many people about the merits of my original RSA post. I stand by the fact the 3rd grade Reading Test is a Language Arts Test. Some took umbrage with me saying the non-comprehension questions had nothing to do with reading. Some argued skills like rhyming, figurative language, research, literary elements, and prefixes/suffixes are reading foundation skills. Okay. I will not argue otherwise. Let me clear up what I meant. A reading diagnostic test identifies the grade level at which a student comprehends what they read. The OCCT test does and cannot do this. The OCCT is an ELA diagnostic (of the summative and autopsy variety) test that identifies the SKILLS a student lacks.  This has to be clear: OCCT gives information about skills; Reading diagnostic gives information about reading comprehension level. They should not be confused. They are not interchangeable. The 3rd grade OCCT is an adequate diagnostic of the 3rd grade skills. The 3rd grade OCCT is not even close to a reading comprehension test. AND our leaders keep saying students are reading at the 1st grade level or 2 grade levels below 3rd grade. THEY don't even understand the explanation for the things THEY don't understand. For example: At the end of the 3rd grade year, a 3rd grader should be reading at the 4th grade level or higher. 2 grade levels behind would be the 2nd grade level. Remember the test is given at the END of the 3rd grade. Students shouldn't be on the 3rd grade level AFTER the 3rd grade! Not only do THEY not KNOW what they are TALKING about, they don't even understand their own explanation!

 Finally, let me say this. I think we should have high standards for literacy in Oklahoma. Reading is such an important skill, we should not take lightly those who struggle with reading. But here is my problem with RSA. What makes people think a 5th year of a RSA plan will do what the 4 previous years of RSA plans didn't do? at risk KG - RSA Plan; at risk in 1st - RSA Plan; at risk in 2nd - RSA Plan; at risk in 3rd - RSA plan; repeat 3rd grade?  Why can't we just say, if a child has been undergoing intensive remediation and intervention while on an RSA plan for more than 2 years we let the classroom teacher, principal, and parent make the best educational decision for that child. Why is that so hard? 

My Original RSA post with clarifications in RED

The 3rd grade Reading test is not a reading test, it's a Language Arts test. WHAT?! Let me explain.Yes, a Language Arts test. The 3rd grade OCCT Reading test has 24 questions about Reading Comprehension. It also has 26 questions covering ELA skills.  In these 26 questions, students are asked to alphabetize, identify figurative language such as homonyms, antonyms, synonyms, and homophones.  Students are asked to identify words that rhyme, identify root words and their prefixes and suffixes, and to write general summaries.  That's right, over half of the reading test are questions that do not require a student to read AND comprehend; they are questions over 3rd grade language arts skills. These skills might be a prelude to reading or foundation skills, but they do not require reading comprehension.  A reading test is a test measuring one’s ability to, well READ. It measures fluency, phonics, phonetic analysis, and structural awareness. Oklahoma’s 3rd grade OCCT doesn't test for ANY of those skills.

It is appalling our state leaders can’t be honest with us.  Telling the public it is necessary to retain 3rd graders for scoring unsatisfactory on a Language Arts test because the test indicates they READ below grade level is just absurd. Did you know a 3rd grader can correctly answer 23 of the 24 Reading Comprehension questions AND still score unsatisfactory on the test? Did you also know it is ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE to determine a student’s reading level on the OCCT? The SDE would have you believe students who score unsatisfactory on the test are reading at the 1st grade level. POPPYCOCK! At what level do students who score advance read? A reading level diagnostic test uses vocabulary, sentence structure, and increasing difficulty in comprehension questions to determine reading level. The OCCT test doesn't have any of those capabilities.

So we have a State Department of Education who has convinced Oklahoma it is irresponsible to promote a 3rd grader who can’t read, while using a Language Arts test to determine reading grade level. Talk about irresponsibility!