Starting this month, Columbus City Schools will begin the middle-of-year diagnostic tests in Reading and Math for students in Kindergarten through 8th grade. Similar to what they did at the start of the school year, students will take these assessments using the iReady online platform.
During our recent Virtual Family Engagement Session, our partners at iReady provided tips and tools to assist parents and education supporters - like the staffs who operate our Learning Extension Centers - with understanding the process and ways to effectively support students.
What Families and Supporters Need to Know
Teachers need to know what students already know and what they still need to learn so future instruction can be matched to meet students’ needs.
The iReady Diagnostic can help get this information for each child, but only if students give it their best effort without anyone else helping with the understanding or answering questions.
This diagnostic is usually given at school, but this time, we need students to take it at home. For most students, this is the second time they’ve taken the test (first a Beginning-of-Year, now a Middle-of-Year). Knowing how students are progressing will help teachers know how to best support them for the rest of the school year.
The iReady Diagnostic is an adaptive assessment that adjusts its questions to suit student’s learning needs. Each item a student sees is individualized based on their answer to the previous question. For example, a series of correct answers will result in slightly harder questions, while a series of incorrect answers will yield slightly easier questions.
Don't Help with the Answers
Students benefit from encouragement during the testing. Parents are often tempted to help on the test, especially since the i-Ready test is hard.
But this test is not for a grade. It helps teachers give students the best instruction possible.
Think of it this way: would you help a student with a vision test? No, because hints won’t help the eye doctor help them. With i-Ready, hints on the test now could negatively impact the student’s instruction later.
Support and Encourage Test Takers
During the testing, encourage students to try their best, even if they get frustrated. Share with them that sometimes things are difficult, but doing hard things will help them grow.
Emphasize “thinking before clicking” on the iReady Diagnostic because just clicking through will not be a productive use of their time nor reflect what the student actually knows. Remind the student to read passages in their entirety, use paper and pencil to solve math problems, and use the tools that appear at the bottom of the screen in some lessons.
Throughout the assessment - every 8–10 minutes or so - show support by using phrases like:
- “I can tell you are very focused. Keep up the good work!”
- “Great work, you have [number] minutes left.”
- “Nice job showing your work/reading each passage carefully.”
If a student is starting to feel frustrated, mad, or upset…
- “Wow. That looks like a very advanced question! That likely means you have been answering a lot of questions correctly.”
- “Don’t get [frustrated, mad, upset, etc.]. Make your best guess so the assessment can find your ‘just right’ level.”
- “Let’s take a quick break! Do you want to finish this question now or when you get back?”
And if a student asks for help…
- “Just like when you take the test at school, I can’t help you find the answer. We want to find out what you know, not what I know. It’s okay if you are stuck!”
- For Mathematics: “Try working out the problem on paper.”
- For Reading: “Try going back and rereading the text.”
- “Try using a strategy that worked in a similar question before.”
- “It’s okay if you don’t know it. You are going to get some challenging questions, which means you are answering a lot of questions correctly.”
- “Make your best guess and move on to the next question!”
After the assessment…
- “I’m really proud of you. You did a great job [taking your time, showing your work, persisting through challenging questions, etc.].”
Each school will determine its testing dates. The testing window opened today (December 7) and will close on January 22.
Our partners at iReady have more tips and strategies for families at: www.curriculumassociates.com/teaching-learning-2020/home-assessment-family-support.