i-Ready: Education at its “Finest”

Marissa Bruns, Section Reporter

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i-Ready: if you know it, you hate it. Six and a half million students worldwide have i-Ready integrated into their curriculum—including our very own—and in the years that it’s been up and running, not much has changed.

According to the official Curriculum Associates website, i-Ready “…integrates powerful assessments and rich insights with effective and engaging instruction in reading and mathematics to address students’ individual needs.” Are you kidding me? This comes from the same company that offers the same passages and questions on their i-Ready “adaptive” Diagnostic Test each year. Take note that Fremont Middle School uses these tests for both math and language arts to test how much progress students make over the course of the school year. How are you supposed to test abilities when you’re testing the same ones in the same way every single year?

Thomas Ultican from the San Diego Free Press makes a very good point in his article: “Instead of a structured course with a teacher, students will log into a computer… ‘Personalized learning’ is a euphemism for a computer-based course delivered in isolation.” In short, this means that the students that do a large percentage of their learning in online classes or content are not being offered the same learning environment that those who don’t use resources like i-Ready in the classroom—and most of the time, this difference is a sure negative. In a blog post titled “Why iReady is Dangerous” by Kassia Omohundro Wedekind, she explains how i-Ready’s Diagnostic Test’s data is often inconclusive and not actually helpful to teachers and students. “The teacher,” Wedekind says, “can never see the questions the child answered correctly or incorrectly, nor can she even access a description of the kinds of questions the child answered correctly or incorrectly. The most a teacher will ever know is that a child scored poorly.” This is a huge problem. How are teachers supposed to help their students if they don’t even know the questions their students answered incorrectly? Even worse, Wedekind goes on to elaborate upon how the i-Ready Diagnostic Test lumps students into broad labels and gives half-hearted suggestions on how to help “a student like them,” which she claims is dehumanizing and unacceptable.

To sum it all up, i-Ready’s curriculum and assessment capability is really a hit-or-miss shot at education. Which is what education should never be. If you want to test students—to really test students to the best of their abilities—you should not be using i-Ready to do so.