Why percent doesn’t count
Imagine your child comes home and tells you that they got 80% on their reading test. You should be pretty pleased with that right? I’ve got bad news for you, it actually tells you nothing about their reading ability.
To explain why, let me give you another example. Just imagine I offer to give you $100,000. You’d be pretty happy with that but only if you knew at what “frequency” I was going to pay that money to you. If I offered it to you in a lump sum (immediately), you’d be pretty happy with that. However if I told you I was going to give it to you over the next 50 years, you’d be a lot less excited right? Right, because that would translate to $5 per day!
Frequency is everything, the most important measure we have available – from the speed at which an olympic runner can complete 100m, to how frequently you get paid, to how many words per minute your child can read. Frequency is about how often a behaviour occurs over a period of time – from payments made to words read.
So let’s go back to the 80% reading test result. We are missing 2 (at least) vital pieces of information in this result: 1. The total time of the test and 2. The total words correct and incorrect. When someone reads fluently, guess how many words per minute they can read with 100% accuracy? 160 words per minute! So imagine now,if your child’s test was 3 minutes and they were given a reading passage of 250 words. Guess what 80% means for that test? It means they read at a frequency of 67 words per minute (nearly 1/3 of the frequency of a fluent reader) with 17 errors!
We should care about accuracy (percent correct) but a much more important measure is frequency – the number of correct responses made in a period of time.
So next time your child brings home a test score – ask the teacher some more questions. How long was the test and what was the actual number of correct and incorrect responses – it will tell you a lot more about your child’s performance and more importantly how well he is being instructed. Fluent learners can demonstrate their skills over longer durations (resiliance or endurance), with lots of distractions and use those skills to become fluent in other skills (such as reading comprehension).
Call Mandy Mason on 0411 13 0411 for an assessment to determine your child’s reading, maths and writing fluency.