Is i-Ready Dangerous?

By: | 05/25/2021
Categories: Data Culture, Instruction

“Is i-Ready dangerous?” “Is i-Ready bad for kids?” “What is the i-Ready test, and does it reduce kids to data points instead of recognizing their unique learning needs?” “Does i-Ready promote equity in schools?” We hear some of these questions and concerns about i-Ready on social media platforms and blogs, from teachers and parents.

Is i-Ready bad for students? No. What makes i-Ready such a beneficial assessment tool is that it is an adaptive test that personalizes questions to identify each student's needs. For example, if a student answers a series of questions on a topic correctly, subsequent questions get harder. Although the test may seem hard, the assessment helps chart a course for each student, and teachers can measure progress using visual data tools.

They are all valid questions. They are the types of questions we want decision-makers, teachers, and parents to ask as they have meaningful conversations about how learners spend their time in the classroom and what tools are chosen to support them. The more voices that are involved in these conversations, the more likely it is that students and the educators who guide their learning will benefit in the end.

Is i-Ready Dangerous?

The i-Ready system is not dangerous. More than 14,000 schools, representing over 10 million students, use this assessment tool to provide safe and reliable learning assessments. Studies show that Grades K–8 students who use i-Ready show greater improvements in math and reading than those who do not. Teachers who use it are more likely to recommend i-Ready assessment tools to a peer or colleague compared to those using other leading assessment programs.

But the people who can really speak to what i-Ready does or doesn’t do, and whether it’s effective, equitable, or indeed “dangerous,” are those on the front lines: the educators working with students day after day. They plan instruction, manage their classrooms—online and offline—and respond to student needs based on their familiarity with each student and their deep knowledge of instructional best practices. We are excited when the tools and data from the i-Ready test can assist them in this crucial work.

Here are some testimonials from real classroom teachers and district leaders about the impact that i-Ready Diagnostic and i-Ready Mathematics and Reading instruction had on their classrooms. They also discuss how schools and districts use data to tailor instruction to the needs of students and ensure equitable learning opportunities.

Teacher Testimonials

What I love about i-Ready is how the Diagnostic data always begins with what students CAN do. Do you realize how powerful that is? When you have a child standing in front of you wanting to know how they did, a child who already knows they’re low and who probably thinks they’re “stupid,” can you imagine how amazing it is for them to hear something positive about themselves? Now, can you put yourself in the place of their parents, who have probably heard nothing but negatives and who just want their child to be successful? To be able to hear what their child CAN do is an incredible thing and allowing teachers to tap into i-Ready’s robust and informative Diagnostic data give both parents and teachers more opportunities to have these kinds of moments.
Meghan Mayer, Middle School English teacher at Brookside Middle School, Sarasota, FL

I think the important message to send to both teachers and parents abouti-Ready is that it is not a replacement of best practices. It’s not a replacement of teacher-led instruction. I think i-Ready is so helpful with data in providing in-the-moment data for when teachers need it.
—Amy Boles, District Administrator, Oak Grove School District, San Jose, CA

I think that i-Ready has helped me focus and be supportive of kids and has made me excited. That’s the hardest thing for me—to try to encourage the kids who are not as motivated, or they’re frustrated. But those are the kids that you can make the most progress with if you can build a relationship with them and get them to trust you and to risk and try.
—Lisa Reiss, Grade 6 Teacher, Sakamoto Elementary School, San Jose, CA

The data gives us opportunities. We are probably the most diverse school in our county, and i-Ready has given us the opportunity to determine what we need to do specifically for every child on our campus.
—Dr. LaShawn Frost, Principal, Booker Middle School, Sarasota, FL

The way we define equity is making sure our schools have the tools they need to serve the population that’s sitting right there in front of teachers. And so, having i-Ready in our schools is a part of equity. Because equity is about making sure that we’re giving each individual child what they uniquely need—and i-Ready has a pathway for that.
—Dr. Marla Sheppard, Deputy Superintendent, Kansas City Public Schools, Kansas City, MO

I describe equity as giving our students an equal chance in learning in all ways of life. i-Ready fits in with equity because it meets the students where they are. I truly love that there’s a program that’s made for individual students.
—Reaundra Pauley, Mathematics Interventionist, Wendell Phillips Elementary School, Kansas City, MO

i-Ready is an amazing complement to what we were already doing in the classroom.The Diagnostic is definitely a great starting point for the children and for myself, but beyond that, children need to get into those lessons, onto their computers, and also have some backup support material from me. They both definitely need to go together hand-in-hand.
—Joanne Rowe, Kindergarten Teacher, Ledesma Elementary School, San Jose, CA

Our teachers’ belief in the new way we were delivering math instruction grew through their experience in the trenches—in the classroom. Teachers saw students having that ‘Aha!’ moment. They realized kids were making connections that made them think, ‘Wow, I can’t believe they’re thinking that way!’ Even before teachers saw any kind of assessment data, student discourse and collaborative comments made teachers believe in the Ready/i-Ready approach to instruction.
—Elizabeth Johns, Director of Curriculum, MSD, Mt. Vernon, IN

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