Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Why I've Decided That the DRA Just Isn't Good

Maybe the title of this post could have been differently worded, but it's not. I think that the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA), compared to other diagnostics, is decent (not worth something like $250 per kit), but is ultimately just another stupid diagnostic. Why have I come to this decision? It's rather simple actually.

I like to read. Reading is great, there is nothing better than a good book. I don't really care if it's a popular book, a bargain bin book, a book for kids, whatever, it's all good. Some I'll hate, but most are at least somewhat enjoyable.

Now, what the DRA is all about is this little books that are at reading levels. You have this box full of these 16 page books for students to read and respond to. The DRA instructions basically say that for the teacher to fully understand the results, that they should have read the book as well.

16 pages don't sound like much, but trust me, it's beyond brutal. I've always maintained more than a touch of selective ADD, when stuff doesn't interest me, I just shut down. I can't read these DRA books, it's impossible. I honestly don't know how my students get through them. They're poorly written, there's little to no attention to actual, you know, story telling.

So when your school district adopts the DRA, and hands you your first kit, try to read those books. You are truly a champion if you can pull it off, because they're not good. It goes against everything I believe about literacy instruction, basically, that it should be interesting to read. Think about it.