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HELP, Someone Smarter Than Me!

January 22, 2016

Y’all know that I am not a huge Common Core fan. I think the concept is good, however the implementation has been awful. The teachers have not been adequately equipped to succeed and as such, the kids are struggling.

One of the techniques that my girls’ school uses to help enhance reading skills is called Achieve 3000. The school pays a hefty amount for a subscription. In turn each student is given a unique user name and password to get them into the system. The kids read an online article based on their reading lexile level and then they have to answer a series of questions to gauge their understanding of the text. The questions are a mix of comprehension and fact retention. I don’t know the exact process for evaluating them but it seems that after they achieve a high enough score on a certain number of articles, they move up a level.

The Little One has struggled with reading from the get go. She is so busy that the last thing she wants to do it sit down with a paper book in her hand. She would rather be playing with her dolls, riding her scooter or playing games online. So I do think that Achieve 3000 can be good for her. It’s online, which is fun for her. The article are quick and there are a million topics that she can choose to read about.

It’s a good concept but again, the execution is the challenge. The articles are often boring. The questions are often confusing. And often there are typos in the article and/or questions.

For example this morning, the Little One was struggling with the following:

Here’s the article she read: (click the picture and it will get bigger)



And then this was one of the questions: (click the picture and it will get bigger)


How would you answer the question, based on the article?
For a child who is struggling with her reading to begin with to then be faced with a vague question she gets extremely frustrated daily. There has to be someone way smarter than me who can come up with a better program or system to help kids achieve. I am certain that I could write more interesting stuff. I think I can write better questions to gauge her comprehension of the article. And I can proofread to avoid some of the typos. So who’s got the golden ticket, so to speak, to create a better way to teach kids like mine to love reading?


Just for fun….One of many typos that I read daily when trying to help! (I know typos happen to the best of us, but it’s a program to help kids become better readers. The irony is funny! Click the picture and it will get bigger)


6 Comments leave one →
  1. Sue Ranscht permalink
    January 24, 2016 5:18 am

    This frustrates and infuriates me. First, the article you’ve shared, which I would guess is typical for the program, is merely a collection of tidbits. Each “paragraphs” is arbitrary and lacks a cohesive topic that might establish a legitimate reason to separate it from any other paragraph. And typos (that was gracious of you — it looks more like ignorance and lack of proof reading to me) in anything that is published to serve as an educational tool aren’t funny in their irony — they’re tragic.

    I don’t have the golden ticket to create a better way to teach reading, but I’d start with decrying the poor quality of Achieve3000’s instruction as often and loudly as I could, traveling up the string to the highest district administrator I could reach till somebody who does have that ticket heard me and helped.

    My generation has been notoriously literate throughout our schooling and adult lives, into our shouldn’t-have-to-work-any-more-but-can’t-afford-retirement years. We learned how to read through two main approaches: 1. Adults read to us. 2. Flash cards. Those skills were honed through reading on our own and writing book reports. Comprehension was a must. I suspect it was even a natural byproduct.

    The day I realized I was, in fact, better capable of educating my son than the poorly supported, overworked, overwhelmed teachers forced to use substandard tools like this one in the public school system, was the day we signed up for home-schooling. He ultimately earned a National Merit Scholarship, so I believe I must have done something right.

    Gah! I wish you and your girls the strength and discipline to excel beyond the limits of such programs as these. Good luck.

    • January 24, 2016 7:14 pm

      I echo all that Sue shared!

      • fixitmommy permalink*
        January 25, 2016 9:32 am

        Thank you Heather!

    • fixitmommy permalink*
      January 25, 2016 9:28 am

      Thank you Sue! As usual you are a great voice of reason! I have always loved reading and it was very easy for me, so this battle is hard for me. My older daughter loves to read, it was hard for her, but once it clicked for her, she was good to go. We’ll keep trying for sure!

  2. Sue Ranscht permalink
    January 25, 2016 3:18 am

    I shared this post and asked for teacher input specifically. The first response came from Heather Mora, a private school science teacher turned home-school teacher to her 4-year old daughter. (They call it Pre-K.) Heather’s a friend of Robb’s. She also has a 2-year old daughter and is expecting a third child in about six months. I hope you won’t mind that I’m sharing her response here.

    She said:

    My advice would be to sit beside her daughter while she completes the online assignment. Mom could ask daughter to say outloud which answer she thinks is correct and they can discuss it before entering. For instance, in that silly butter question, daughter might say “the second answer seems the best, but it’s not just a faire tradition…? That’s throwing me off!” And mom could say “I agree, confusing! But of these choices, I think you selected the best option!” So basically be a screen for the frustrating questions.

    And life unfortunately will always come with some frustrating questions. Obviously we don’t wish reading to be frustrating, but it’s not a terrible skill to learn “how to not throw in the towel when people don’t communicate well” (again, would love to learn this NOT in conjunction with a vital skill, but, keep it positive and ride out the life lesson?)

    Also, try to not read too much into the questions. I’ve seen this in math problems. People will read a question about “5 red and 6 blue” and ask “well, are there any green? Are there marbles we can’t see?” Um, no. There aren’t. If there were, the question would say so. Don’t make the question more complicated, look for the simplest answer.

    Best of luck to all parents and kiddos navigating these challenging learning obstacles!

    • fixitmommy permalink*
      January 25, 2016 9:29 am

      Thank you Sue for sharing and for Heather’s comments. I greatly appreciate the additional insight!

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