Thanks to Pam Mears I have been dibling it up this week. By that I mean that I have been administering DIBELS reading tests to all the 1st-5th grade classes. Thus far, with the help of some volunteers, I have made it through all the 1st-3rd graders along with about a quarter of the 5th grade students. I am pretty sure I could recite the materials in my sleep. Each test must be administered to a single student at a time as it is not a written test, but oral reading.
One aspect of the 1st grade test is phoneme segmentation. For everyone who is not a teacher, that means taking apart the phonetic (sounds) in a word. So the word hit becomes /h/ /i/ /t/. I asked one particular student to tell me the sounds he heard in cat. He said "meow."
Despite the cute answers, the overall outcome has been quite discouraging. Of the couple hundred students tested so far probably only about 5 are on or above grade level. I expected as much, but without the concrete stats it was a little easier to imagine I was wrong. Reading is not a subject on their syllabus, or in their timetable (subject allocation). Therefore the only direct reading instruction comes from me. I have my work cut out for me this year. Especially since the teacher they hired to take over teaching reading has decided not to come.