Nancy Bailey: The Murky World of i-Ready, Grading, and Online Data
Nancy Bailey takes a look at the business of iReady, and it’s not pretty. Reposted with permission.
Many school districts use Curriculum Associates i-Ready in their classrooms for reading and math, but there appears to be program murkiness. There’s concern that teachers might rely on iReady data for grading rather than their professional expertise.
I-Ready provides teachers with data reports of student results, but teachers never see the child’s online responses. They don’t see the correct or incorrect answers.
Grading has always involved teachers examining student work and evaluating their progress, but if teachers don’t have access to actual work, they end up relying on i-Ready’s conclusions. This raises transparency issues.
Placing children online to work and allowing nontransparent computer programs to grade them might seem like a solution for managing large class sizes. However, this is not what i-Ready or any online program should be about.
According to Curriculum Associates, i-Ready is not meant to be used for grading (See What is i-Ready). However, it’s difficult to find this information, it’s unclear, and seems buried in the online description of i-Ready.
I-ready is designed for 45 minutes online per subject, 90 minutes total, of instruction a week for math and reading, but some believe it’s used more. Some schools reward children according to their scores.
I-ready marketers also claim iReady is not about replacing teachers, but if teachers only rely on i-Ready, it removes a teacher’s judgment. Teachers might use the nontransparent program’s results, use the data for grading, instead of their own knowledge about the student, especially when they face overcrowded classrooms, a reality during the pandemic.
Also, if teachers advertise a data-rich classroom, parents might focus more on the data from i-Ready, not the teacher’s personal observations and feedback. Teachers wind up taking a backseat to iReady.
I-Ready has been around since 2013. Many bloggers have written about the concerns surrounding i-Ready throughout the years. Some of those blog posts are found below including a report by the Herald-Tribune.
So much anxiety and confusion surrounds i-Ready; the company has created its online page Is i-Ready Dangerous?
Florida is one state heavily relying on i-Ready, although many parents express concerns about the program and the data collected on children. The governor often claims they are getting rid of Common Core, but he is either misinformed or ignores that i-Ready aligns with Common Core.
With fewer teachers, online instruction is fast becoming the new normal, and this has been a corporate privatization goal for years.
It’s easy to see that, with so many teachers leaving the classroom, online programs like i-Ready could eventually be all that parents have left to teach their children.
This includes other related concerns about i-Ready.
Confusion still surrounds how i-Ready collects and handles data. Not all parents trust i-Ready’s Full Privacy Report and might reject a login address and avoid the program altogether. Here’s what i-Ready states: i-Ready® Platform, in their Data Handling, and Privacy Statement Last Updated: October 21, 2021.
Florida officials have said they will end state testing. Will i-Ready diagnostics, which collect large amounts of student data and use personalized, nontransparent algorithms to measure students, replace those tests? This raises more privacy concerns.
Reports and blogs describe i-Ready’s assessment results to support pandemic learning loss claims, heightening fears in parents, educators, and students that students have fallen behind.
Concurrently, many parents wonder about the accuracy of i-Ready assessment results.
In Florida, i-Ready is used as an alternative assessment to keep children from being retained in third grade.
Retention is a humiliating requirement placed on children not based on research. So a lot is riding on this online program.
Some worry, however, could students could be misclassified as having learning problems with iReady and placed on an inappropriate academic pathway?
Many parents would prefer funding reading remediation specialists instead of i-Ready.
Exercises might seem confusing, and some parents and educators find them developmentally inappropriate.
Concerns are raised about placing kindergartners online.
Parents have questioned the accuracy of the algorithms, the calculations, and problem-solving operations.
I-Ready focuses on Phonics for Reading: It’s Never too Late to Crack the Code, third grade plus.
Here’s what Curriculum Associates says about research, but a 2016 study from Johns Hopkins School of Education indicates that i-Ready research is often by parties associated with the publishers of the assessments.
It’s important to emphasize that i-Ready should be used as a supplemental program to support teachers, and it should not be used to grade students.
Add to this the most significant problem: no child, especially young children, should sit in front of a screen for the bulk of their education while outsiders collect their personal information.
I thank Cheri Kiesecker, a long-time student privacy advocate, for her help in preparing this blog post.
I also thank Cindy Hamilton, co-founder of The Opt Out Florida Network, and other parents and groups who helped me with this post.
Blog Posts About i-Ready
Kassia Omohundro Wedekind
Math Exchanges: Why i-Ready is Dangerous
NYC Public School Parents: The Uselessness of the interim assessments that the DOE purchased for $36 million
Herald-Tribune by Ryan McKinnon
Resources About Online Data and Privacy That Might Be Helpful to Parents and Teachers
Please share any others you might know.