Language Live, Part Deux; When the Data Collected Doesn’t Belong on IEPs

“I wouldn’t count that”.

~Alicia Kuehn, Curriculum Resource Teacher
Region 1 Point of Contact
Office of Special Education Instruction
Fairfax County Public Schools

This quote refers to data Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) included in IEP Progress reports and in an IEP being developed for the coming year.

Words No Parent Wants to Hear

The quote indicates that school division members of the IEP team either 1) intentionally put misleading data on a student’s IEP progress reports and IEP or; 2) school division members of the IEP team didn’t know better, which means the IEP progress reports and IEP were developed by individuals without the knowledge, experience, or expertise to develop an IEP that provides FAPE.

Not good.

A Bit of Background

FCPS pulled the data from Language Live, which my son took as a year-long reading elective in 7th grade, to address his struggles with Dyslexia, which the school division didn’t attempt to address until the summer before 7th grade (even though all three times I referred him for evaluation—and all three times FCPS denied him an evaluation—I had cited struggles with reading and suspected Dyslexia).

About a year after data started appearing on IEP progress reports, and then about 6 months after the data starting to appear on the IEP being developed for the next year, I attended a meeting related to the program “Rewards”, which is another program FCPS recommended for my son, who at that point was in 8th grade.

And that’s when it all came out.

I share this story (as with the article “If Your Child was Administered the Program Language Live, this Article is for You“), with hope that it will inform other families about data being culled from the program Language Live, and encourage them to ask their school how it is being used, what it measures, if it is reliable data, and so on.

The Partial Transcript for the Meeting

Ryan Bartruff  00:09

All right, so we are convening, to for your request to review the Rewards reading program. And we were prepared with that information. And we have our specialists standing by to assist in the conversation. I guess let’s, let’s open it as far as what are your what were your concerns or questions regarding the program, or possibly just a review of the data,

Callie Oettinger  00:32

Let’s just start that he hasn’t improved. So he started at 112 at the beginning and he’s at 112 again. So, I didn’t know how many of you were going to be here, but this is what I have [provides handout] on his fluency through the years.

Mixed Voices  00:45

Ok. Thanks. I’ll take one.

Callie Oettinger  00:54

So I mean, he’s at 112 now. He was at 114 in November of 2016. He was at 112, 113 in November 16. He was at 112 and then he went down, down, down, down, down. And then he was at 112 at the beginning of this year. And, now he’s at 112. So last time he was at one to around the 112 area was 114, which was November of 2016. And now we’re in 2018 in February.

Alicia Kuehn  01:27

So November 2016 reports.

Callie Oettinger  01:33

So these are the same-

Alicia Kuehn  01:35

The same passages from the same I wasn’t.

Callie Oettinger  01:37

So this is what- If you look, so I had this is the day this is the, this the fluency, this is the text level. Now I wasn’t always given it so when I have it, I put it in and then the data source is right there so you can see where it came from. So the 114 came from. It says it was on an IEP progress report, but I also have a Language Live report from 11/1 that that has 114, so I’m assuming that’s where the IEP got it from.

Alicia Kuehn  02:04

you want to go over what do you have for this quarter?

Margaret King  02:06

Yes. I have some more from the 112 you saw. So the last one we have is the 16th of. . .

Ryan Bartruff  02:20

15 of January.

Margaret King  02:22

That last one I gave was the most recent, which was last week. He got 124. And they’re all from my email.

Callie Oettinger  02:30

So he went from the 16th to the 22nd. He went from a 112 to 124.

Margaret King  02:38

On the-

Callie Oettinger  02:38

On the 16th is a 112. And now he’s a week later, he’s a 124. So have you tested him more than once to see if he’s consistently a 124? Where are we at with this?

Margaret King  02:49

Well, this was the most recent one. I haven’t given him a fluency one this quarter yet.

Callie Oettinger  02:53

Okay, because what I’m looking at is I mean, we’re all- We’re going up and down, but we’re not, not really- well actually, we’re not going up. We’re kind of hitting a height that we’re already at.

Margaret King  03:07

Well I can give him another fluency, but this is his most recent.

Callie Oettinger  03:10


Alicia Kuehn  03:12

You wanna talk- We talked a little bit the other day about like how how he’s doing actually on the passage itself. Do you want to talk about that, like the errors, like-

Margaret King  03:19

He’s not making any errors. He is reading at a slower rate, though. Every single one, he has no errors.

Callie Oettinger  03:28

But that’s the point of the correct words per minute. So that’s what all of these are is correct words per minute. So that’s what needs to go up. So if it was not- If I didn’t hear that it wasn’t correct, I’d actually be even more concerned. So that’s actually where I’m at with this is. That’s what I assumed that it was going to be correct words for a minute.

Margaret King  03:45

Yeah, It is correct words per minute.

Alicia Kuehn  03:46

Yeah. I just mean, he’s not making errors in the passage where we’re having to subtract, he’s reading, but when we talk about slow rate, she said, He’s being thoughtful about the words and we talked about that, you know, some words he’s not automatic.

Callie Oettinger  04:02

But he’s still not going up. So, that doesn’t really help.

Ryan Bartruff  04:08

Well, he’s he’s at a 104 or 124, you said was the most recent one, okay,

Callie Oettinger  04:13

A week after 112, which was just after a 109, a 105, a 105, a 112. So for me, going from September 1, that was a 112, to a 122, a 124 is not assessing at the end an amount of progress, especially since supposedly he was at 121 in the spring.

Ryan Bartruff  04:47

Okay. Um.

Callie Oettinger  04:50

So I had a couple of concerns, obviously, is that this isn’t working. That means something’s not working. He’s not going up. So what I was told last year, was that, you know, he started last year at a fourth-grade level. And so if you look, he’s got all these different grade levels where he was tested at. So when he ended sixth grade, he was tested around- In sixth grade, he was tested via the GORT, and they had him on a 3.8 level. Okay? So then we did ESY. And supposedly, they got him in sixth grade, but then he regressed within a couple of weeks. And so guess what, I didn’t stick. And so then we went, we started here, and I have him on fifth grade level at a 95 words per minute. And so I was told that the reason that the words per minute- the correct words per minute weren’t going up as much was that, you know, he’s also increasing his grade level. So it’s going to be more challenging. Okay, so we’re stalling a little bit maybe on the words per minute, but we are at least in a grade level. Well, now where we’re at is we’ve been at the same grade level all year. So now what I want to know is if it’s not going up now, we’ve been at the same grade level when, I heard you last year, but what’s the explanation this year? If we’re not, if we’re not seeing significant improvement? I mean, he’s been at the same grade level all year.

Ryan Bartruff  06:06

Well, I guess one question that is, and maybe Tracy and Alicia can answer this, is what is the- What expected growth should there be? As far as from his starting point to what a year? What a year’s worth of instruction would be.

Callie Oettinger  06:20

We had a whole meeting about this, if you look at the scale that you guys have- Now I have it with me in this folder. But yeah. Oh, you have that? I think it’s .6. So we went through that. Right, is that right? Six points or something like that?

Alicia Kuehn  06:33

It’s .6. That’s less than a word. Like half a word.

Ryan Bartruff  06:49


Callie Oettinger  06:50

So he’s, I mean, as of a week ago, he hadn’t gone up so, I mean, not even a half a word, right? That’s crazy.

Alicia Kuehn  06:58

So you know, I’m looking at it. It’s hard to compare, I think from one year to the next because we don’t know where all the passages are coming from.

Callie Oettinger  07:06

Well I have more of them. Most of them were-

Alicia Kuehn  07:08


Callie Oettinger  07:08

Almost all of them are Language Live.

Alicia Kuehn  07:11

Right? So you can there are different passages, they have different text complexity and things like that to it. So, that’s why we can’t really compare unless we’re comparing apples to apples. So I think Margaret, you’ve been pulling all of your probes all from the same place. I think that’s, yeah.

Callie Oettinger  07:24

What is that?

Margaret King  07:26

Easy CBM.

Alicia Kuehn  07:27

It’s just a site that’s curriculum-based measures on it, including passages. So I think what we’re taking a look at is there. Now the other piece that keep in mind with fluency is the student’s familiarity with the content that’s being presented right in the passage. Sometimes they have great background knowledge and they’re able to get through it a lot faster. Sometimes they don’t and it take a little bit longer to read through it. I think what’s great is that we’ve been kind of measuring fiction all the way through, we haven’t been mixing it up so it makes it a little bit easier to take a look at.

Callie Oettinger  07:54


Alicia Kuehn  07:56

Yeah. So it’s good to be consistent that way.

Callie Oettinger  08:01


Alicia Kuehn  08:01

So that’s what we’re seeing. I mean, we’re definitely seeing he’s just had that 124. So-

Callie Oettinger  08:06

That was just this week.

Margaret King  08:07

That was last week.

Callie Oettinger  08:10

Ok so, but you, but I went, so he went from 112 to 124 in a week. So I mean, I’m just saying we have all over the place, and all of a sudden he has 124. And at this meeting, I mean, if you say that’s where it is, I’m not going to doubt you. But at the same time. It’s not consistency at- not consistently 124. And frankly, he was on a 121 last year. So this jumping around this-

Margaret King  08:34

He’s not being consistent-

Callie Oettinger  08:35

No, he’ not being consistent.

Tracy Puckett  08:37

Well, I see this one it says the grade not provided, so-  That’s hard to, uh-

Alicia Kuehn  08:39

Yeah, and so and I wouldn’t

Callie Oettinger  08:40

Why wouldn’t you count the Language Live?

Alicia Kuehn  08:44

Because, again, it’s the text complexity. There’s a mixture of fiction and nonfiction, but the important piece of the Language Live probes- They’re done online by the students, so it’s not done by a teacher. So what you’re looking at there, really, this [she points to teacher probe data] is a better reflection of his words correct per minute and what strategies he’s using.

Callie Oettinger  08:59

So it’s not a good reflection.

Alicia Kuehn  09:00

It is, the Language Live probes are done for practice to help the students get towards automaticity. But what we’re looking at here is an actual probe done by a teacher. So we can really kind of take a look at the fluency.

Callie Oettinger  09:06

But that’s concerning also, because the progress reports last year were pulled from the Language Live a lot of times, not from a teacher. So I shouldn’t, so that makes me question even more the data points on there.

Alicia Kuehn  09:26

where was he at the end of the year?

Callie Oettinger  09:28

Well accord-, well because then you get to the QRI, and at the end of the year he was at an 89. Stefanie did that. So you know, you look at him throughout the year, 121, 111, 112, 108 and then Stephanie does- 89 was the QRI.

Alicia Kuehn  09:42

At the beginning of the year he was 112.

Callie Oettinger  09:44

And then the difference between the 89 and the 112 is he had Lindamood Bell in between there.

Alicia Kuehn  09:48

So, he’s between the 25th and the 50th percentile on there. So where are we now? Winter, which is what she just did with the 124. So, 124. He’s on the 25th. So he’s getting between the 25th and the 50th.

Callie Oettinger  10:06

And that’s acceptable?

Alicia Kuehn  10:08

That is on target, [laughs], or heading in that direction, which is why he’s in these intervention programs. If he was at the 50%, I would question why he would be in the intervention program.

Callie Oettinger  10:18

Just so that you guys don’t have to look at that. A 20th percentile for 8th grade is a 90th percentile for first grade. Just so that you have a little bit of comparison.

Alicia Kuehn  10:27

Well we’re looking at 8th grade.

Callie Oettinger  10:30

I’m just- I’m just telling you that that that’s that’s just-

Alicia Kuehn  10:34

Well you can’t really first grade to eighth grade. [Laughs]

Callie Oettinger  10:36

Honestly, his fluency rate. It’s a little concerning to me. I mean, this is not, this isn’t a good fluency. And on top of that, if you look at the other side of the coin, he’s got a 79 on the KTEA for writing fluency. So these things go together. They’re coming in and going out. So we’ve got a problem here and he’s not he’s not it’s not going up and the 79 was just last summer,

Ryan Bartruff  11:01

but it is going up if we look at the data from the beginning of the year.

Callie Oettinger  11:04

The 79 also?

Ryan Bartruff  11:06

No, I’m talking about the correct words per minute data.

Tracy Puckett  11:09

And writing, that’s different from. That’s different. We’re reading fluency.

Alicia Kuehn  11:18

It’s, it’s, I mean, he’s above the 25th percentile. So the gains aren’t going to be as significant,, considering her started below the 10th percentile in their fluency. We would expect huge, hopefully gains from there, but where he has movement, because he’s getting close to that 50th percentile, which is what we’re looking for. So it’s they’re going to be a bit more sensitive.

Callie Oettinger  11:37

And, again, the 50th percentile- You never gave me data from this decade and for an eighth grader. Could you just want to understand why the 50th percentile? Where’s the data that stated that’s like the magic number where he would be okay. And that you would say that you just said a few minutes ago that if he got there, you wouldn’t question-

Alicia Kuehn  11:54

We go by the state of Virginia, and this is, is what the state of Virginia uses.


Okay, but where does it say the 50th percentile is the point where you would wonder why he was in reading interventions.

Tracy Puckett  12:02

It was in the article that I sent you, that was in the article that I sent you that was cited on the top of the Hasbrouck & Tindal chart.

Callie Oettinger  12:09

So, and it’s for all grades?

Tracy Puckett  12:11

That one went up through eighth grade.

Callie Oettinger  12:13

Okay, I’ll double check on that. I’ve never seen that.

Tracy Puckett  12:15

Yeah. Absolutely. And the reason I sent you the curriculum framework from the Virginia Department of Education was because that same chart, which what Alicia has in front of her is what is used in the current curriculum framework for Virginia.

Callie Oettinger  12:35

Okay. So this is acceptable, then? 25th percentile. Moving along at the 25th percentile.

Tracy Puckett  12:45

He’s above the-

Mixed Voices  12:46

Callie Oettinger  12:46

What exactly is the 25th percentile?

Alicia Kuehn  12:50

So in the fall, the 25th percentile was 106 words correct per minute. And then here we are in the winter, it’s 124.

Callie Oettinger  12:58

Oh, so he’s at the 25th percentile.

Ryan Bartruff  13:01

But if we,

Callie Oettinger  13:02

And he’s about to go into high school.

Ryan Bartruff  13:03

But if we if we look at the expected rate of growth, which is point six words, and I look at there’s been 20 weeks of instruction, that’s a 12 word per minute increase, which is he if he was at 24, then that would be a base of 112.

Callie Oettinger  13:17

Well, actually, it was really just one week, because we have a whole we have a full, we have almost two quarters where he’s at 112, then it goes down to 105, 105, 109, 112. So I have a hard time saying that he is at 124. And that he just did that that was an increase, since it was just really one week but all previous weeks have him at around the same amount-

Alicia Kuehn  13:39

Right and we’re looking at the increase of that point six word per week. So we’re not going to see a huge jump from first week to the second week to the third week. Well, I’m looking at beginning of the first quarter to the end of the second quarter.


If we took his where he started and applied a line on that rate from looking at the rate of growth, that’s expected a point six=

Callie Oettinger  14:05

That would been-

Mixed Voices  14:06

Callie Oettinger  14:07

112, 105, 105,  124.

Ryan Bartruff  14:09

I think what Ryan’s trying to say when we look at data trends, we look at the line of best fit, and we look at the line of best fit. That’s where these data points are gonna be, right? We don’t, they’re all gonna be clustered around a trend line that’s, that’s smoothly going up to

Callie Oettinger  14:20

Where is the trend line? What’s the trend line? Because I’m looking again all last year 121, 111, 112-

Alicia Kuehn  14:27

So we’d say where he started, we put where we want him to be. And then you just connect those two dots and collect the data.

Callie Oettinger  14:34

So we’re at 112. He started at 112, and where do we want to be at the end of the qua- the end of the-

Tracy Puckett  14:40

So we’re heading towards the 50th percentile. So the end of the year would be a 151.

He did not end the year with a “151”, nor did he reach the 50th percentile. Instead, just a few weeks shy of the end of the year, his fluency, per the Gray Oral Reading Test 4, was in the 9th percentile, even though he started the school year at the 25th percentile.

After two years of a school division providing programs with returns that were de minimis compared to the student’s investment of time, what would you do?

Would you go along with them on any other programming they suggested?

*The chart below is the source of the .6, 25th percentile and 50th percentile referenced during the meeting.

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