BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — Parents throughout South Palm Beach County are using iReady on behalf of their children, possibly skewing scores — and usefulness — of the $6-Million diagnostic computer system.
BocaNewsNow.com has learned that this is the latest iReady issue to cause problems for the Palm Beach County School District which prohibits teachers from assigning iReady as mandatory homework. The District is cracking down on teachers incentivizing students to use it outside of class.
iReady creator Curriculum Associates of North Billerica, Massachusetts, did not respond to requests for comment from BocaNewsNow.com. The company has ignored various requests for information about iReady for more than 18 months.
But Palm Beach County School Spokeswoman Julie Houston Trieste says safeguards are built into the program should it determine parents are cheating on behalf of their kids.
iReady may lock out users, and alert a teacher, if results take a dramatic turn one way or another.
“iReady is one component of class room teaching,” said Trieste. “The (child’s) next diagnostic is going to be over the child’s head if mom and dad are doing it (for them).”
However, BocaNewsNow.com has learned this is apparently not fool proof as parents log in and complete coursework with just enough errors to make the results seem plausible.
While teachers, BocaNewsNow.com has learned, are aware of the problem, they aren’t provided with enough information to take action.
Curriculum Associates is apparently not providing minute-by-minute use information to the Palm Beach County School District, hampering a teacher’s ability to see if a third grader, for instance, is using the system at 10pm — something that could raise a red flag.
iReady is used as one of several measures of success for students in Palm Beach County. While the only scoring that counts, according to those familiar with grading, occurs during school hours, the system does apparently factor in past use when it generates questions for students to answer. Knowing this, a parent could purposely answer questions incorrectly prior to an in-school iReady test, fooling the system into generating easier lessons — and questions — when used in school.
While the Palm Beach County School District isn’t suggesting that iReady may be on the chopping block, several schools have added “TensMarks,” a similar system, for in-class online instruction. iReady, which is Flash-based, remains incompatible with iPads, iPhones and most modern portable devices.
TensMarks, an Amazon.com company, offers a modern interface with apps for multiple operating systems.
The Palm Beach County School District $6-Million contract with Curriculum Associates continues for several years. The contract, however, can be terminated at any time, according to a BocaNewsNow.com review of the document.