One Child Saved from DIBELS
A parent posted this story to the (Not the official) DIBELS Clearinghouse--in the hopes her experience will help others.
My son entered Kindergarten in my local public school in 2002. The
school had just been refurbished and the old K classes were redesigned
to make the room into an academic class. Part of the new K program
included no recess or playing. I was not informed of these changes. I
thought the empty shelves would be filled with various activities and
games to improve the students emerging skills.
When he entered school it was my belief his reading skills were
progressing naturally. He enjoyed being read to from various sources.
Reading was a treasured part of our home life. He owned his own Pooh
Bear diary. He was using scribbles to represent words / sentences and
had filled out most of his diary. He knew the letters in his name yet
still needed to improve his fine motor skills to print the letters more
clearly. I thought everything was moving along just fine.
His behavior changed over the school year. First, he did not want to go
to school anymore. Next, he wanted rid of his beloved Pooh Bear diary.
His reason was that only babies scribble. (His teacher had told the
class this in desperation to get them to print irregardless of their
fine motor skills). After this he did not attempt printing or
scribbling anymore. Then he became obsessed with stopwatches and
desperately wanted me to buy him one. Lastly, the true dagger hit my
heart, he no longer wanted to read books with me.
Towards the end of the school year I received a letter stating that he
was going to require a intensive and expensive summer school program
due to his low reading scores on something called a DEBILS test. As a
former public school teacher, I was confused because I never had heard
of this test. The letter contained very little information regarding
his scores or the test. I began to wonder; What did the scores
represent? What type of test was this? Why was I not informed that
they were using this test?
I researched the test on-line to learn more. The sites I did find
appeared to be so similar to the state tests that my special education
students at the high school level had been taking. The same type of
lingo was used to promote how excellent this test was and how our
children would become the best. The site also explained how this test
was going to be a nation wide test. I was faced with more shiny
propaganda. I already knew the damage the high school testing had
done to educational environment and my students!
I also discovered that I could not find scientific testing or research
concerning whether the test actually tested what it claimed to test. I
found out that the children were timed hence the burning desire for my
son to own a stopwatch. He was never one for doing things in a speedy
manner. I found out that my district was pulling him out classes almost
daily and doing practice timed testing using those ridiculous test
items. I could just picture my sweet little boy sitting at a table and
being timed to do X, Y and Z. I could see him looking at the stopwatch
wondering how it worked and what it would feel like to push the
buttons. He just loves gadgets. Then “ding” time is up. You
I disagreed with their approach to reading which appeared to be based
on this DEBILS test. The district claimed that their curriculum and
DEBILS testing was phonics based yet it did not appear to be a true
phonics based program to me. I was sent home long lists of sight words
that he was suppose to memorize. I was suppose to log all the books I
read him which thanks to their program he no longer enjoyed. In
addition, the letter and vowel sounds were introduced in a confusing,
erratic manner. According to the test the most valued skills appeared
to be the rapid identification of letters and rapid identification of
I had him tested by an independent educational tester to be told that
it is too early to know if he has a reading problem, all for a
$1000.00! I had him work with a program through our local hospital to
improve his visual-perceptual skills using fun games that we played at
home too. I found an excellent private tutor to work with him twice a
week using a real phonics program. Most importantly, I took him out of
the public school system and placed him in a private school.
He is in second grade. He is reading at grade level. He is writing
stories for the pure joy of the act. He has strong spelling skills. He
likes school. All these things make me confident in his future ability
to be an active learner.
I hope my experiences can help another mom who may be confused about
their child’s ability to learn how to read and I hope they understand that the best
way around this unnatural testing is to find
an alternative educational source for their child. Save your own child.
Not the Official DIBELS Clearinghouse
INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES