Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thankful Thursday:
"The truth is rarely pure and never simple."

"The truth is rarely pure and never simple
Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, 
and modern literature a complete impossibility!"
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, Act I


This week I am thankful that SC successfully completed our first-ever standardized test.  I wrote previously that we had her tested just before she turned five years old for IQ and achievement, but other than a new understanding that she is gifted, asynchronous, and really needs to work on listening skills, there wasn't much we could do with the results at this point.  

What I really wanted to know was whether or not I had missed anything in planning and teaching.  In the State of Texas, the Texas Education Agency publishes a set of standards called the TEKS, and while that is helpful in directing planning, it does not tell me now, before we start, what SC really already knows.  I went through the kindergarten TEKS standards last summer, and other than a few of the science and social studies parts, in my opinion, she had already mastered most of it because of the product she was generating when we did preschool and kindergarten level work at home.  

For starting this fall, I did the same thing, looking at the first grade level TEKS, but I was more unsure.  Again, we had not done much of the science or social studies items at home, though many were taken care of at the Mother's Day Out pre-k program she went to.  However, I am not that worried about missing information in these areas for the upcoming year.  It is the math, reading and language arts skills that I really wanted to know about, especially since she is working so far ahead: what has she already mastered, what is a struggle, what does she not know at all?

I chose to go with the ITBS Level 6, which is the level for students going into 1st grade (K.7-1.7).  I did not want the test to be so difficult that she was only getting a few questions correct (what I thought might happen if I had jumped two years and chose Level 7), but I hoped that she wouldn't just blow through this one, either, and have wasted my time giving a test that she scores 100% correct answers on.  


Level 6 was a perfect test, and though I do not know the "official" results yet, because I was the test administrator (ITBS allows this, as long as you get certified, which requires a bachelor's degree), I was able to see where, when and how she made mistakes.  Most of the mistakes were made with regard to listening comprehension.  Though we knew that she struggled in this area from the previous tests, it really helped to see her make the mistakes.  I was able to see that she does fine when there is one or two pieces of information, but if there was three or four, she tends to forget the first part of what I was saying.  This held true across all the categories, both in the actual "listening" section, but also in the math area when she had to listen to word problems that had more than two numbers to manipulate.

The other problems she got wrong (other than for listening reasons) were in the vocabulary section, and specifically had to do with categorization.  Some of the words she was asked to identify (by choosing the picture that best represented the word she heard me say) were things like thick/thin and skinny.  I realized that as a family we have purposely avoided these types of categorization words due to the fact that they can be applied to people, as well as the word "fat," which is the opposite of "skinny" in this context.  AC and I have not wanted to deal with SC pointing out these specific differences in people (because she does notice and point out in a childlike manner) in public because though her intent is not to offend, sometimes the words of a child can be taken as offensive, and people can still be hurt by them.  

 So, I would say that overall, this was a great testing experience.  AC and I both wanted SC to have some experience with taking a standardized test, and though the State of Texas does not require that we test or submit scores, we think the information we can learn from the testing (as long as it is analyzed in way that is not simply "did she score X" or "did she pass") will be a great help to us going forward.

Have you had experience with testing young elementary students at home?  What do you think about the ITBS test specifically?  Let me know, then check out some other Thankful Thursday posts here:

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