Thursday, March 27, 2014

Doin' The DORA!

Mercifully, this has nothing to do with "vamanos!" or "Swiper, no swiping!" This week will be Exam Week in Mooselandia, including here at our little school.  Our "regular" school activities will be cancelled, and Mad Natter will be working on taking the DORA from Let's Go Learn, as well as the Chapter 1 test for Math Mammoth.  I'm certain the maths test will be no big deal, but I'm taking a few minutes to review The Younger Mrs Warde's notes on giving the DORA to younger children.  Mad Natter has taken the DORA before, somewhere back in August-ish, but I'm not sure he did exactly... well... with it.  Not that he's supposed to make a grade or something, but I suspect he was a little confused with exactly what he was supposed to be doing, so his results didn't match very well with what I was seeing him do.  Knowing what I learned, and what Mrs Warde has learned?  I suspect that will make a huge difference.

For reference, Mad Natter's currently most-used word is "although," he is reading Magic School Bus books aloud to me, and has finished the learn-to-read segment of Reading Eggs with no desire to continue into the proficiency aspect. So, I have at least a vague minimum of how this testing should turn out.

We hadn't taken the DORA, like I said, since August, so while I was fully intending to set Mad Natter through two sections today and call it done, he wound up going through the entire assessment.  Twice.  I was thinking there was a break of some sort between subtests, something to let you know you were moving from one subtest to the next.  NOPE. The safe bet is to assume when the animation changes, so has the subtest.  So, Mad Natter ran through the test like the whole thing was timed, and needless to say, did... Well, for himself, he did poorly.  He tested out as an average kindergartener, with a low fourth grade vocabulary.  So, since eight months ago, he tested out as an average kindergartener with a high second grade vocabulary (with the exception of the vocabulary his assessment scores were identical!), I obviously didn't believe it one bit.  No progress since August?  Uh huh.  Anyway.

I went back to Homeschool Buyers Co-op and bought another test.  Thank goodness I was spending points on this and not dollars, or I'd be *pissed.*  Like, royally.  Anyhow, I got another test, and we settled in.  He did the first two subtests on his own - as in, he controlled the mouse, he answered as he liked.  Then I realized he was literally clicking the blue hat every time, except for words like me, my, and the. Those, he'd pick the appropriate hats for.  So after that subtest I took control of the mouse, and he sat on my lap.  The program would ask a question, and I would direct the mouse over the options, and wait for him to tell me to click - but I refused to click (even if the answer was correct) until we'd looked at all the options.  Then we'd go through again, and he'd tell me to click. Essentially, I had to force him to sit and think about his answers. Once that was done... Well, he took a break to run around.

We literally played the Lone Ranger Theme Song in this little segment, and he spent ten solid minutes running through the house... and wanted to press on with the assessment, so we dove back in.

Once again, I held the mouse, and the fact that he couldn't just click anything, but had to look at all the answers meant that he didn't just click on something close.  His scores jumped noticeably at that point.  The same applied for the vocabulary - given the word "candidate" I held the mouse over each picture in turn, and he had to look at them before deciding which one was correct for the word.  If I can slow him down, he does extremely well - but he HAS to slow down!

This time around, he got the spelling and comprehension subtests, which we hadn't seen before.  He loved the heck out of the spelling test, it meant he could use the keyboard! While spelling was his weakest area on the entire test (save the first two subtests where he wasn't actually paying attention!), I credit our love for All About Spelling for the fact that it was well above grade level.  The comprehension subtest honestly astounded me. I didn't realize he retained as much as he did about what he read.

All in all, for a squirrelly 2E boy, I would say that the DORA is significantly more parent-intensive than it was intended to be, but overall a decent measure - as long as you can get in there and keep them focused right from the start.  It's given me some things to think about, and an idea on direction versus where/when I can introduce new ideas or programs. So it's helpful, although not entirely as helpful as you might think. It will tell you, versus average, where your child stands in terms of standard public school grade levels. It will not, for example, tell you their Lexile Measure, their Guided Reading Level, or anything else to further assist your choosing specific tools.  However, it provides a spectacular overhead view of where your child is currently performing, and allows you to look back and see how they are doing versus where they were.  I like it, and while I wish it did just a little more, it's not enough that I won't continue using the measure.

Oi, this post contains affiliate links.  I promise, it doesn't change my thoughts on things - rather my thoughts drive my willingness to sign up as an affiliate!