Last Friday my reading class finished the big nasty quarter final reading placement test. I teach 5th graders who are reading at a 3rd grade level and I am supposed to be helping them catch up to grade level toot-sweet. This is something I have a history of doing well.
So, imagine my surprise this weekend as I graded the tests and found my kids — all most everyone of them — testing at a pre-K reading level. What the F–!
See, this is what teachers know — some kids will fail. Most kids will not. If the whole class fails then the flaw is either in the test, or the teacher. We use a national test with years of research behind it. Not only that — I have used this test successfully in the past. Rationally, that means the fault has to be mine.
I worried that “fault” bone off and on all weekend. What did I do wrong? Why did I fail? Maybe it’s time for me to find another line of work …
This morning I went into work an hour early. Once again I sat down with the test. I regraded several of them — the results did not change. Then I studied the answer sheet — standard scantron. No surprises there. I looked at the test. I have given it several times, so I was looking to see if it had changed. All was the same.
That was when I decided to check Ilsa’s answers and try to get some idea of what she must have been thinking. I had expected her to get the highest grade in the class, but she scored lowest. When I compared her scantron sheet to the questions, I found that for the most part, Ilsa had chosen the same answers I would have — that means that I just scored at a pre-K reading level, too. I found those results highly suspect.
That was when I finally picked up my scoring mask and looked at it. I had given the 5th grade, 1st quarter test, but was provided the 5th grade, 4th quarter scoring mask to check it with — little wonder we all failed.
I went in search of the Reading Coordinator, obtained the necessary correction mask and many apologies, and re-scored all the tests. Phew! My students aren’t coming along quite as quickly as I’d hoped, but neither are they regressing — better yet, I am not reading at pre-K level.