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NCLB Outrages

DIBELS Dementia

Kudos to Sandra Blackburn for breaking the silence. In so doing, she honors students and teachers.

by Sandra Blackburn

First, a bit of background information. This DIBELS story is about one of my students who is reading on grade level and has earned a sizable number of points on our district's Reading Counts program. The student recently failed the DIBELS test of "nonsense words."

The Reading Counts program is a computerized program that encourages students to read and take a test on any of the books in the RC list. Each book is categorized according to grade level and has a point amount that can be earned by passing a test on that book. Students complete the books, pass the tests and accumulate points to earn incentives and prizes.

This particular student went from the status of a reader "at risk" according to a standardized test (SRI) taken in the fall, to "on grade level" with an increase of three stanines in the spring SRI testing results. The student's gains, combined with the Reading Counts points, shows the student is not only mastering reading but is enthusiastically enjoying it. What the student didn't enjoy was struggling with the "nonsense words" on the DIBELS test administered recently.

As is standard for the DIBELS test, this student like all students, was tested by another staff member. After appearing unintelligible while reading the nonsense words, the student was then tested again by another staff member who agreed with the first examiner, the student failed. The irony and the ludicrousness of this result is all the more evident when you consider the student is one who is presently staffed eligible in the district's Exceptional Student Education Speech program for a severe articulation problem.

Anyone silly enough to claim these results are valid must be subscribing to the new standards for public education imposed by those who regale suspect statewide testing programs and the absurd nonsense of the NCLB.


Sandra Blackburn,
Volusia County School District,
Daytona Beach, FL 32118.

— Sandra Blackburn


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