Sunday, January 31, 2016

More Great Academic News

So I already mentioned the improved reading skills we are excited about. The other thing that they do to track students is a computerized test called the MAP test. (okay, so I have no idea what the letters stand for but I am sure it's something). In this case, the students use a computer program that inches them along seeking to find the point where they are no longer answering questions correctly. Once it reaches that point it gives them a standard score or number.

Disclaimer: I am not intending to insult anyone's intelligence, but the teacher in me just feels the need to be sure I'm clear.

The standard score is then turned into a percentile by tallying a large number of students of the same grade and time of year and see where they fall. This means that the percentile rank has nothing to do with a percentage, which confuses some people. The easiest way to translate what a percentile rank really tells you is to think of it as a room of 100 students. If your score is considered the 75th percentile it means that your score is better than 74 of the other students in the room and that there are 24 other students who scored higher. Therefore, you can think of a percentile of 50 being perfectly average.

I promise I am going somewhere with all of this so just hang on.

In Kindergarten Ayden Jane started taking this computerized test. I sort of cracked me up because the kid did not even know how to use a desk top computer with a mouse let alone take a test on it. Anyway, she started out with scores in the 25-30 percentile range and I thought that was pretty decent. As she went through first grade she seemed to settle in at about the 40-45th percentile. Hey, that nearly average!

So this year in grade 2 she started off right in the same range she left off in grade 1 so I was pleased. She was continuing to progress at the same pace as her peers so all was good. Winter testing was last week. I can honestly say that if she tested low I would not stress over it. I will, however, celebrate the victory of jumping up to scoring 50-55th percentile on both language and math! Now, do I really think that this one test is an sort of accurate measure of Ayden Jane's ability? Nope.

I think that there is still a gap between what Ayden Jane knows and what she can express or use. I do believe that this gap is closing and that is actually what the rise in percentile rank shows. I think she has been smart and known a lot all along but is continually improving in her ability to use that knowledge and communicate it.

So, if you have hung in here this long, the take home message is this. Our kids take in so much but from the start seem to have trouble showing us all that they know. I think it happens often that people under estimate what they know or how smart they are because of this expressive delay. So keep filling up those little brains with words and experiences and know that its all going in. Ayden Jane is 8 and she is still closing this gap! I consider that fabulous news. There was a time when I was told that as she got older the gap between her and her peers would widen as the academics came into play. I'd say slightly above grade level in reading, language and math is a great place to be and who knows? Maybe next year we will be in the 60th percentile.

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