Thursday, February 13, 2014

DORA Review

This is a continuation of my attempts to figure out my boys' reading ability.

7 months ago, before Lady Bug was born and before I was officially ordered on bed rest, I tried several different ways to assess where exactly they were. I really wanted to do an online test, but couldn't spare the money at the time. Well, out tax refund came in, so I purchased two DORA assessments from Let's GO Learn for $35 (price for two.) The tests were online, did not expire, and the results were instant. It is adaptive, which means it's not stuck on just the grade level you register your child at but instead goes (I've read) all the way up to 12th grade. They test several different areas of reading in various ways. They do try to make it game like/fun for the kids, which is nice because it took my boys an hour (of testing time) to complete all the parts of the test.


8 Tips for Giving the DORA to Children
  1. Do not attempt this test all at one time with young children. I can not stress this enough. I did not know how long this test was going to take, and I did not know how many parts there are. I would say, anyone under 3rd grade or age 9 should spread it over two days, or at least spread it over the whole day.
  2. Take breaks when it's clear your child needs it. Even if it's in the middle of the test section. All but the first one are NOT timed, so it's okay. Also, clicking the "Stop" button will save your child's progress, even in the middle of the section. If you want the test to be accurate, let them take breaks. In between during these breaks let them do whatever they want (within reason, of course.) I let mine play the Wii or computer games that are their reward for finishing school. Which brings me to 
  3. Cancel homeschool for the day(s) and just do the test. I did this and I am so glad I did.
  4. Make sure they've recently eaten, have gone to the bathroom, and have water to drink near by.
  5. Don't be afraid to bribe. Ice cream is the only thing that got us to finish this in one day. Reward and encourage frequently, especially if your children are unused to testing.
  6. If you have more than one child doing this, don't let them watch or distract the other. Probably obvious, but I'm going to put it on the list anyway.
  7. Watch them take the test. This will give you a lot of insights that are not on the final assessment report. For example, there is one part of the test that was very different from the rest of the tests. Early Bird did very poorly in this area, I think mostly due to the format. On things I know he knows because I have done similar things with him. If I had not watched, I would not know known it was the format throwing him and giving him such a poor score. Also, if you're watching you can catch them when they're making silly mistakes from not paying attention enough, or notice when they really need an unscheduled break.
  8. Remember that their testing level might be higher than their working level. Just because they test at, say, a 4th grade level, does not mean they can pick up a 4th grade book and read it all by themselves. But it can give you a good idea of strengths and weaknesses and give you an idea if changes need to be made or not. 
The results and further suggestions were very helpful, and I am very glad I did this. It was worth the money for me. (If you're a member of The Homeschool Buyer's Co-op, you can get it at a reduced price. I'm not a member but I may join.)

If you don't already have Acrobat Reader, you WILL need to install it (for free) to read the results. Pay attention when installing and unclick the McGee (or whatever it is) Security install that comes along with it, or your computer tech husband might get annoyed...

5 comments:

  1. Great tips! I had my son take the DORA and the ADAM K-7 last year, and one thing I keep telling people over and over is how much it helped to be in the room when he took it! There were things that he missed just due to not understanding the format or making silly errors (as soon as he clicked his answer, I'd hear him say "Oh no, that wasn't it- it was xxxx". Between that and the detailed results reports, these were MUCH more informative than other tests that just give scores!

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  2. Thanks for using DORA. I'm from Let's Go Learn and as a result of your input I think we'll have to add some more explanation of the Phonemic Awareness section. You are indeed correct that that particular sub-test can be misleading if children are not used to the instructions of the task. We consider that sub-test only a screener since its results are less accurate. Happy homeschooling!

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    1. That is wonderful to hear, thank you! I intend to give the DORA again next year to the boys to measure their progress. I look forward to a difference in that potion of the test!

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