Rewordify

The librarian in my school recently found this free online reading program: Rewordify. The program has a number of great options for struggling readers. One options allows you to copy difficult text and paste it into the rewordify webste. The site then simplifies the text by using synonyms and other alterations. While there are definitely times the software can’t keep up with the text, it is definitely a step in the right direction in terms of educational technology. Check it out with the link below:

http://rewordify.com/

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What is Central Auditory Processing (CAP)?

The attached handout shares a ton of helpful information regarding Central Auditory Processing Disorders, including possible origins, explanations, and recommendations. I find this concern popping up more and more… I also find it difficult to explain and truly assess, so I thought I’d share this with you all.

Central_Auditory_Processing

Understanding NYS Test Results

I know many parents and teachers out there are wondering how so many of their students scored so “poorly” on those ELA and Math assessments. I took some time to compare the state proficiency levels (those number indicators – Level 1, 2, 3, or 4) to standard scores on a bell curve to shed a little more light on the subject.

Basically, what I found was that the proficiency levels, by no means, represent equal quarters; rather, the scores that fall below the expected proficiency levels (i.e., Levels 1 & 2) make up nearly 75% of all student scores across the state. That means that a 6th grade student that scored better than 71% of other 6th grade students across the state on the NYS Math Assessment still fell in Level 2. By the state standards, this means that this Above Average student failed the test. It also means that only ~25% of students “passed” the test based on these standards that are based solely on expectations that have not been tested.

Check out the attached graph.bell curve- state test

Common Core Woes…

With the state releasing the broad numbers for the latest New York State ELA & Math state assessments for grades 3-8, the common core curriculum is becoming increasingly popular in the media. A great article was written by Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post which highlights many issues surrounding the common core assessments, which can be read below:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/08/07/what-big-drop-in-new-standardized-test-scores-really-means/

One section that I have found to be a particularly common perspective on this issue is quoted below:

“The bottom line is that there are tremendous financial interests driving the agenda about our schools — from test makers, to publishers, to data management corporations — all making tremendous profits from the chaotic change. When the scores drop, they prosper. When the tests change, they prosper. When schools scramble to buy materials to raise scores, they prosper. There are curriculum developers earning millions to created scripted lessons to turn teachers into deliverers of modules in alignment with the Common Core (or to replace teachers with computer software carefully designed for such alignment).”

While I am 100% for improving the education system in our country, I think it’s a shame that new tests increase parent concerns, teacher anxiety (and, in turn, student anxiety), and a general negative perception of schools.

I have worked in an elementary school for the past 5 years now and I am still shocked by the work that these young children are doing. As a school psychologist, I love data. It’s quick and simple. I can glance at it and get a general idea if something worked or not; however, standardized tests don’t tell us everything that we should know about a student. If your child bombs a state test, that doesn’t mean he or she developed a learning disability overnight. It means a “standardized test” raised the expectations.

If the state and testing companies really cared about our students, they would release the results to parents in a straight-forward approach (Bell Curve, anyone?). Tell me the average range based on the students that took the test, and then tell me where each kid fell on that curve. Were they right in the middle of the pack? Were they at the 13th percentile?

Well, I’m done ranting now. Check out the links below for more information!

http://dianeravitch.net/2013/08/09/will-the-new-york-testing-fiasco-fuel-the-anti-testing-movement/

Developmental Milestones

Are you (or parents you know) worried about your child keeping up with “typical” developmental milestones? Do you know what is actually expected of a child at 2 months? 6 months? 1 year?

Check out the following CDC Developmental Milestones .pdf for more information; but keep in mind: not all children follow a “normal” developmental pathway. Some children may take longer to achieve particular milestones and then make quick growth, etc.

Hope this helps answer some of those questions and ease some worries out there!

CDC developmental milestones

School Refusal

Sorry for the long delay between posts here… summer has been busier than anticipated. Now, I know we are only halfway through our nice break, but there may be some people out there who are worried about fall already. Kids having too much fun over the summer and don’t want to get back into learning mode?

See the attached .PDF for information about school refusal.

school refusal handout

Teaching the importance of data

Sometimes we all forget how important clear, undisputed data can be. We are often unaware of the progress that our children (or ourselves) have made. Keeping data and charting that information helps us remain aware of improvements. More importantly, creating progress charts helps prove to ourselves that our hard work is paying off.

I’ve found that teaching elementary students how to complete charts and allowing them to pick any specific skill area (I.e., # of free throws made out of 20 attempts, or typing words per minute) promotes a positive mindset, confidence, and a generally positive skill that we should all remember to use. I made a simple hart in Word and distributed it to a counseling group I met with and found marked improvements in every single.glen student. I encourage you all to pick one area, create a plan on how to improve it, and chart your progress. You will likely be amazed at how much your hard work pays off. I’d be happy to provide further information about how to do this, how to calculate percentage of growth, or anything else you’d like. Good luck!

progresschart

Common Core Curriculum?

I’m sure all you parents and teachers have had enough talk about the educational system and common core curriculum… but a lot of people out there have no clue what this actually looks like. EngageNY has lesson plans and assessments that assess essentially every learning standard at each grade level. Check them out here:

http://www.engageny.org/english-language-arts