We had our first “official” parent-teacher conference about 10 days ago, and received mixed news on Kaitlyn’s progress so far.
Overall, her teacher expressed that Kaitlyn in progressing very well in all areas, but does have some challenges in a few areas, namely staying motivated and handling difficult situations. No surprises there, really.
We were provided with a summary sheet that outlined the different areas where students are graded, and that is where the progress report becomes a little frustrating. In math, Kaitlyn recognizes and names all numbers from 0-20 (not a shock because she can count past 100), and scored a .93 (on 1.0 scale) on the school’s Success Maker math assessment. A score of 1.0 is required to advance to 1st grade.
In the reading section, Kaitlyn scored 26/26 on her letters, 25/26 on letter sounds (the “u” sound got her), and 47/50 on her sight words (window, door, etc.). She scored a .12 on the Success Maker reading assessment, which is way below our expectations, and below what her teacher expected given her individual area scores. On her Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading (FAIR), however, she scored a .95, which places her above where she needs to be in the second assessment period of the year (January-February). Her teacher is certain that she has found the cause of the lower score on Success Maker, and it is that Kaitlyn gets distracted due to the slow pace of the instructions being given on the computer; and it makes sense that she would score lower on the computer-based assessment because it is going too slow. She will, however, need to work on her focus while using Success Maker because it is required that she get to at least 1.0, To help, we have downloaded an app for the iPad to help with her reading and following instructions, but it is more of a timed reading activity that measures words read per minute (Kaitlyn was at 48 wpm).
To me, the large difference in scores shows a very real problem with our current education system. She has a great teacher, and is in a great school, but if she does not do well on a computer assessment, it reflects poorly on her, the teacher, and the school. Computer assessments and “teaching to the test” are taking away from the educational experience for students and are not good for teachers. We have full faith in the school and her teacher, and that Kaitlyn is where she will maximize her potential, but at the same time, the teacher is limited as to what is considered success for her because of silly assessment tests; I am certain that if Kaitlyn’s teacher were able to teach her in the environment that I was taught in, the results would be even better. But she is stuck in a proverbial box because of assessments developed by politicians and merit pay.
We are just about through the first 9 weeks, and could not be happier with Kaitlyn’s progress. Her teacher has been wonderful, and the school has as well. Our conference gave us a look into how she has been doing, and her report card will be out soon to make it “official.” We know there will be areas that will not be up to our expectations thus far, but that will give us a chance to reassess our standards and make adjustments.