Tag Archives: testing kids

Crappy frogs

I was assessing a little boy’s reading and writing in English this morning at work. He’s in French Immersion and in Grade 3. In my school district, that means that he has just started receiving formal instruction in English reading and writing this year. Prior to that, all his instruction was in French.

All this to say that even though the kid is eight years old, his English skills cannot possibly be where you might expect them to be, simply because his education has been mostly in French to this point of his young life. He will catch up, of course, but it takes a little time: studies show that French Immersion kids lag behind their unilingual English-track peers, particularly in spelling, for only a year or two.

Okay. So, that being said, I still had to snap a photo of part of the spelling test he did with me – after I sent him back to his classroom, of course.


One day, this little guy will learn how to correctly write the “ch” sound in English.

But today was not that day.



One of the things I do for the last few weeks of the school year is to evaluate the reading of every single French Immersion kid in my school, except for the Kindergartners (most can’t read yet) and the Grade 7s (they’re going to high school next year; I don’t care any more about their reading). In total, I probably listen to about 300 kids read a short story to me, and then I ask them 10 or 15 comprehension questions. I then get a fairly accurate idea whether or not each kid can read words at their appropriate grade level and whether or not they actually understand what they have just read.

It’s a time-consuming process that takes pretty much the entire month of June. But the information gleaned is important for report card writing and also for planning for next year, so I think it’s worth it and I do it.

This year, however, I experienced a first during these reading assessments. No, it wasn’t that a kid couldn’t read at their grade level at all. No, it wasn’t that a kid could read way beyond their grade level. It wasn’t that a kid could read every single word perfectly but not comprehend what happened in the story at all. It wasn’t even that despite being mostly unable to read most of the words, a kid somehow fully understood exactly what was going on.

No, this was nothing like that.

This was a little boy in Grade 1 who sang the entire story to me.

Yes. He sang it.

He was obviously creating the melody as he went along, but he sang me every single word in that story without a hitch. He even had terrific intonation and expression, and he stopped appropriately when there was a period at the end of a sentence (an awful lot of primary-aged kids don’t do this, for some reason).

I have never had this happen before, in probably 20 years of evaluating the reading of young children.

In addition, this little boy answered all ten comprehension questions correctly.

Unfortunately, he didn’t also sing his answers.

I should have taken a point off for that.

Letter confusion

I was doing some year-end testing of kindergarten kids today. You know: stuff like reciting the alphabet, identifying letters and numbers in isolation, naming the sounds of the letters – the kind of pre-reading knowledge that every kindergarten kid should have by the end of the year. Of course, many of them know all that before even starting school, but they don’t know it in French, so that’s what I’m testing. I do have them do it all in English too, but that’s mostly for comparison purposes, because if a kid can do it in English reasonably well, chances are they can also do it in French. If they can’t, then I’ll need to look a little deeper, but that’s not the point here.

The point is actually this one little girl that I saw today. She could name only some of the letters and numbers in English, but not the sounds of any of the letters. Ooooh. Not good. Then we moved on to naming the individual letters in French.

That was even worse. When I showed her the letter “p”, she told me it was “broccoli”.

Now I’m stumped. I don’t know what to do to help a kid who confuses letters with vegetables. Any ideas?