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.
The Florida Reading Research Center found no weaknesses, but it’s hard to find more independent information showing that i-Ready improves reading scores.
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.
Most i-Ready testimonials seem like opinions, not research.
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
i-Ready?…………More Like i-SCAM and Other Deceptions.
i-Ready Sells 50-Years-Old Education Failure
i-Ready, Johns Hopkins and Oakland Public Schools
i-Ready Magnificent Marketing Terrible Teaching
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
Chalkbeat: NYC officials keep a lid on data from tests to address ‘learning gaps’
Herald-Tribune by Ryan McKinnon
Amplify and i-Ready Claim Kindergarten and First Grade Reading Loss to Profit From the Pandemic
Common Core, Camouflaged in Testing and Technology
Resources About Online Data and Privacy That Might Be Helpful to Parents and Teachers
Please share any others you might know.
Beth Hankoff says
I’m very familiar with iReady. It is pushed on students and families in a public homeschool program I’m familiar with. Testing through iReady is done 2-3 times a year (twice if state testing is done, three times if an end-of-year score is needed and state testing is not being done). Parents are encouraged to put their kids on iReady several days a week for reading and math sessions.
I worked for them 5-6 years ago and I had to proctor the iReady assessments for my students. They were given one family at a time. The kids were so stressed out, even though it was supposedly just for monitoring purposes. We were told that it was to see where we might help the family with resources (iReady offered worksheets for areas in which the child showed weakness). The main issue with the assessments is that they are dynamic, meaning the level changes in response to the child’s answers. Miss several in a row, the level drops dramatically. Get several correct, the level increases.
I had a middle schooler who wasn’t much for math. She was struggling with pre-Algebra. I think she understood it, but just didn’t enjoy it, and mom had her on an online course. Bo-ring! When she took the test, I would have expected her to do what she could and finish with an average score. On the contrary, she tried so hard she was turning red and she looked like she was going to cry! I went over to her and tried to tell her that if the problems were getting way too hard, that meant she had done well and they were giving her things over her level now. It was okay for her to make a guess and move on. It would realize her level and stop the test. But she wouldn’t give up. She tested above grade level, but I have never seen her like that! I have sat for many exams for college and to become a teacher. I have never seen anyone look like that! This was a 12-year-old girl. Between her mother and me, we could have told you where she needed help and where she didn’t.
What the program does is give you that information right down to the substandard of the standard from the Common Core. But like you said, we don’t know if that information is accurate. I don’t do that job anymore, but I work with those students in an independent capacity. One family left the school largely because of the iReady assessments. They made her daughter cry from the pressure. This is another bright, lovely 5th grader. These reactions alone are enough for me to say no to this software. Thanks for another great post.
Nancy Bailey says
Thank you, Beth, for describing your experience. How sad for those children. I’m especially struck by how isolating working online can be.
Paula McDonald says
Having witnessed IReady diagnostics twice during distance learning (grade 2) and recently while my grade 3 son was quarantined with positive covid-19, I absolutely hate this program for its content and format. When the diagnostic starts, my son is instantly stressed out since the teachers have placed such emphasis on those scores. Then he resorts to just clicking and guessing without doing the work- natural human behavior at any age! Without me as a proctor, the teacher will definitely not prevent the guess and click method, generating a low score that’s not close to reality. Conversely, I’ve witnessed my son guess correctly at random on reading that is too difficult – and contrary to the marketing, it never really dials back down to a representative level.
For this recent one, I let my son take as long as he needed (several hours) and he raised his score 120 points without any real help from me other than stopping him from clicking out of laziness or frustration. When I saw him very reactive, I told him it was ok to guess and move on. Overall I feel this score is consistent with his actual capability, which is supposed to be the goal. But instead, I’ve been basically accused of helping him cheat.
Last year, one of the Gr2 passages was about Andy Warhol and one of the questions was, “Do you think Andy Warhol thought Marilyn Monroe was happy?” What kind of BS waste of time garbage is that?!
The IReady lessons are decent and my son enjoys them. But the diagnostics are garbage and horribly inaccurate for the most obvious behavioral reasons.
Nancy Bailey says
It’s not right for students to be so stressed about learning, an effect of high-stakes standardized testing. Children understand the stakes are high on or off the computer.
Guessing the Warhol question referred to his Marilyn picture, but they need to put art back in the schools if they want children to understand.
Thank you, Paula. This is informative and I appreciate it.
My child took iReady assessments in middle school. The teacher didn’t know much about them but I did take a snapshot of the results. What a waste of time! Like the poster above, the teacher and mother could have told anyone where improvement could be made. Students can’t see the question or results. My child tested out of three of the broad categories and higher than grade in three other broad categories. What I do know is that my child started to ask me to get out of school when the school started putting the students online more. This child does not like being online, gets little to nothing out of it, and hated iReady and Amplify.
I don’t trust the privacy policies either. Many, if not all, ed tech privacy policies can be unilaterally updated by the company. It is unclear what student ID is used. They collect info they don’t need like FRL. The phrases “education-related purposes” and to “improve teaching and learning” are vague. Trusted third-party research partners are not identified. Parents can’t go right to the company and have data deleted. The list goes on.
Nancy Bailey says
I’ve seen this concern before, “Parents can’t go right to the company and have data deleted.”
I can’t help but remember when student info. was locked in a filing cabinet in the guidance office and teachers had to get a key to access it.
Sheila Resseger says
This online “learning” mania is disturbing on many levels–quality (or lack thereof) of content, the inability of teachers to monitor not only what children answer but also how they are engaging with the material, as well as the incessant data collection/tracking/profiling via AI. The situation of using these non-thought provoking materials for special needs students is even worse. Has a module ever been devised that encourages or even allows the child to ask a question? I rest my case. The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy has excellent materials regarding online data collection and privacy protection. See https://studentprivacymatters.org/about-us/
Nancy Bailey says
Thank you, Sheila. It’s hard to see children becoming so dependent on unproven technology in the classroom.
Dana Cole says
I use the free version of NoRedInk for supplemental grammar practice & reinforcement in high school While it isn’t nearly as Orwellian as iReady seems to be, I do still see students getting frustrated when they repeatedly get two right, but the third wrong (they need to get three correct in a row to move forward).
I can’t help thinking that some of this is related to the fact that we don’t really talk with young people about dealing with failure beyond “try again” and “try harder.” It feels like a healthier response to “well, that didn’t work” would be “How interesting! I wonder why it happened that way.” And I just don’t see that very often.
Nancy Bailey says
Excellent point, Dana.
I have spent some time reading your excellent blog! I hope readers here will click your name and learn more about it.
I also agree with your point about teaching children about failure.
Diana Markel says
Is there any data on how/if Ready helps students in any way? I am a teacher who is asked to make sure my students complete lessons in both IReady math and English. I have no idea if it is doing anything at all.
Nancy Bailey says
That’s a great question, Diana. There’s little research about the benefits of online learning in general.
Ana Matute says
The Charters School my kids go to are now adding Iready for grades, I have bright kids and their grades are drop so to this issue, Charters schools have become a monopoly however county schools are not as secure, not sure what I can do to stop this madness, I need guidance on how to appeal against this madness and have the school drop this requirement. Please help.
Nancy Bailey says
I will check on some sources to see if I can come up with a better answer. In the meantime, I’m wondering why you say the county schools are not as secure. What was it about public schools that drove you to charters? I know much has been done to public ed. but I still think those schools have more accountability. But I’d love to hear your thoughts about this. Hang in there, Ana.
Nancy Bailey says
Feel free to share this article with those running the charter or the district state authority if comfortable doing so.
In writing, you might tell them that iREADY is not meant to be used as a grade and show where the charter says it is using iREADY for this purpose.
Ask the chartering authority to step in.
If that doesn’t work, go on to the next level, the state board of Ed.
If that doesn’t work, you can contact Cheri Kiesecher, who helped me with this reply, and she will help you take on this charter. I can give you her contact info. Good luck
Gregory Sampson says
In Florida, the state testing platform provided by Cambium already has progress monitoring tests. My best guess is that the state will use this for the progress monitoring tests. In my experience, iReady is overused in the classroom. In middle school, if the rotation model is in place, children rotate through a 20 to 30 minute iReady session every class. Since I’ve been in high school the last seven years, my knowledge of iReady is a little dated, but it used to be that teachers had the discretion to adjust the learning path and the student’s assigned place on it. Also, if a student failed a lesson twice, the program was supposed to shut off the lesson and notify the teacher that her intervention was needed for actual person-to-person instruction. Finally, the state end-of-course exams in Algebra 1, Geometry, Biology, Civics, and US History were not eliminated. What Florida has done is add more testing that takes place throughout the year. The final progress moinitoring test will remain high-stakes, which means we will be spending the same time or more prepping the students for them.
Nancy Bailey says
Thanks for sharing, Gregory. It’s always helpful to hear what’s actually happening in the classroom. I appreciate your recent post. https://grumpyoldteacher.com/2022/03/15/no-its-not-the-end-of-the-fsa/?fbclid=IwAR3di19ERq_sA_AF6-B4dTZ2P9_D3tHSRqjtk8Tt6_tW22iF92NNd3s64Vg
Why is i-ready bad.
Nancy Bailey says
Read about it and judge for yourself.
My son is learning disabled (working memory, processing and comprehension) and has an IEP. He is in 8th grade, all regular classes. He gets A’s-Cs on his in school tests with lots of studying and taught different ways to learn something that clicks for him. Standardized tests are very difficult for him because of his learning disabilities I have opted him out of the CA SBAC test because he does poorly and feels dumb. His school really pushes I-ready and made it mandatory for two math lessons to be passed a week and he is starting his mid year diagnostic I-ready tomorrow which they are making him take. My question is, historically he has been in the “red zone” across the board for I-ready from prior diagnostic tests which is confusing for his math teacher because he does well in school overall. What is the end point of I-ready in terms of their solution to get kids like my son actually caught up and more towards grade level? Is he really supposed to just do more lessons? These mandatory lessons have been painful. Very slow, boring and gives questions that you choose “all the answers that apply” when there are 6 different answers to choose from and if you don’t click on one answer the whole question is marked wrong and it just simply moves on.
Nancy Bailey says
I don’t know the point and there’ve been plenty of complaints about iReady. Maybe you can request he be removed from it especially since he has an IEP which you must sign off on. It sounds like it isn’t working for him.
Thanks for sharing your experience, as it might help other parents.