by Scott Goldberg, Associate Professor at the Azrieli Graduate School of Yeshiva University
Supporting Hebrew Reading with More Data
According to the 2018 Kids Count Databook report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, only 35% of students in the United States read English at proficient levels by the end of third grade. This low rate of literacy is alarming, as reading is critical for learning and is a predictor of significant social, emotional and behavioral challenges. For the Jewish community, it should be equally, if not more, distressing that only 42% of day school students are reading Hebrew at or above benchmark levels by the end of third grade. More than 15 years ago, I studied the impact of Hebrew reading difficulties, and found that those who struggle with Hebrew reading feel socially excluded, which then often leads to anti-social behavior. Indeed, if you are not a fluent Hebrew reader, you may not be able to fully participate in Jewish communal activities. Jewish day schools throughout the world are continually searching for effective ways to deploy and guide staff to support Hebrew reading. Given a limited pool of resources (including money, time and qualified staff), educators are often stymied about how to meet this challenge.
For many Jewish day schools, MaDYK (Mivchan Dinami Shel Yeholot Kriah) has been part of the solution. MaDYK, a universal screening assessment of Hebrew reading skills, enables educators to effectively, efficiently and easily monitor a child’s Hebrew reading progress from Kindergarten through the end of Grade 3, especially for students who are learning Hebrew as a second language. As with dynamic assessments in English (e.g., Acadience Reading – formerly known as DIBELS Next), MaDYK benchmark assessment tools are designed to be a core component of a multi-tiered system of support. Using the data generated through the MaDYK assessment—which is expected to be administered to all students three times per year with a test that requires only approximately three minutes per child—educators are able to identify student needs with precision. This assessment of student strengths and deficits in Hebrew reading then guides the formation of instructional groupings and identification of areas for intervention. For example, reports will show which students meet benchmark goals for accuracy and fluency, allowing a school to easily create at least four reading groups (e.g., above benchmark goals in both accuracy and fluency, below benchmark goals in both accuracy and fluency, and above in either accuracy or fluency). Teachers use additional forms of the measures to periodically monitor the progress of those students who are determined to be at-risk for further reading difficulties (i.e., they scored below the benchmark goal).
MaDYK is agnostic to curricula and instructional methods, meaning that educators use the results to make data-informed decisions about individual students and also about the success of the curriculum and teaching methods and other systems-level issues. Schools use reports at the student, class, grade and school levels in regular data meetings with teachers and staff to discuss trends and to plan for improvements. The aggregate of representative schools can also be used to report on the state of the field of Hebrew reading (as demonstrated by the statistic presented earlier about the percentage of students reading at benchmark level by the end of third grade).
The current MaDYK suite of measures have been rigorously studied for more than a decade, and have been scrutinized for reliability and validity, as we have come to expect from any assessments we use in our schools. The development team is currently piloting new measures and refining the reports that schools can access in the online data system to further advance the effectiveness of MaDYK’s use.
For more information visit www.madyk.org.