The Story of Sam McGee

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.
 sam
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JIFFY EVALUATION CENTER

DIAGNOSTIC EDUCATIONAL EVALUATION

Name: Sam McGee Test date: 2/16/99
Parents: Mr. & Mrs. Robert W. Service Birth date 2/10/93
Address: 39 DawsonTrail Death date: 2/15/99
Moose Creek, Alaska Age: 6-0
School: Iditerod Elementary (6 years, 0 months)
Examiner: John O. Willis, Ed.D. Grade: 1.5

REFERRAL

Tragically, Sam died in a dog sledding misadventure just after being referred, and was cremated on the marge of Lake Lebarge. However, pursuant to our best guess regarding the long-promised regulations for IDEA-97, we completed the evaluation posthumously1, just to be on the safe side.

TEST CONDITIONS

Sam was very quiet during the evaluation. He was not at all restless and showed no signs of distractibility. He exhibited no unusual behaviors. Sam and I worked together for two sessions in the Guidance Office, kindly made available to us by Ms. Taken and the staff who would otherwise have been using the room. Physical conditions were excellent. Light, air, and temperature were comfortable. The table and chair were the right height for Sam. Outside noise was minimal.

I explained that the purpose of the evaluation was to help Sam’s teachers learn more about the best ways to teach Sam. Everyone is better at some things than at others, and the tests could help determine which were which for Sam. I also explained that there would be some items that would be too easy (basal items), designed primarily for younger students, and some that would be much too difficult (ceiling items), designed primarily for older students. Those items are included to make sure we do not miss any extreme strengths or weaknesses2. I also warned Sam that I was not allowed to indicate whether specific responses were right or wrong, although we would discuss the results at the end of the evaluation. Sam had no questions during or after the evaluation. His scores appear to be valid indications of his current functioning levels.

FINDINGS

Sam’s scores are shown below. He achieved raw scores of zero on all subtests. Sam’s oral reading scores were markedly uneven, but his reading comprehension was fairly strong, Below Average to Low Average for his age. Although his spelling scores ranged from Very Low to Below Average for his age, his standard scores were consistently within a range from 68 to 85. Listening, speaking, and math skills were all weak.

Although he may need some help with math and spelling, Sam’s strengths in oral reading on the WIAT and reading comprehension on the K-TEA suggest that his listening and speaking weaknesses are not seriously affecting his progress in reading, and he should do well in school.

SAM’S TEST SCORES3 IN PERCENTILE RANKS AND STANINES FOR HIS AGE

Test

Percentile

Stanine

Score

Rank

123456789
K-TEA: accuracy in reading words aloud from a list 58 01 1 Very Low
WIAT: accuracy in reading words aloud from a list 89 23 4 Low Average
K-TEA: answering oral comprehension questions about reading passages 92 30 4 Low Average
WIAT: answering oral comprehension questions about reading passages 87 19 3 Below Average
K-TEA: written spelling of dictated words 85 16 3 Below Average
WIAT: written spelling of dictated words 75 05 2 Low
TWS-3: written spelling of phonetically “predictable” words 70 02 1 Very Low
              written spelling of phonetically “unpredictable” words 78 07 2 Low
              total spelling score 68 02 2 Low
K-TEA: math computation on paper 69 02 1 Very Low
WIAT: math computation on paper 66 01 1 Very Low
K-TEA: math applications (“story” ) problems with scratch paper 42 01 1 Very Low
WIAT: math applications (“word” or “story” ) problems with scratch paper 70 02 1 Very Low
WIAT: listening: answering questions about paragraphs read aloud 73 04 1 Very Low
WIAT: oral expression: describing and explaining pictures 72 03 1 Very Low

I hope that Sam’s parents and teachers will feel free to contact me at 555-0993 to arrange for further discussion of these findings and recommendations.

Marge N. O’Verra, Ph.D., S.A.I.F.
Assessment Specialist

1 We used procedures recommended by Jeri J. Goldman in “On the robustness of psychological test instrumentation: Psychological evaluation of the dead” in Glenn C. Ellenbogen (Ed.) (1989). The Primal Whimper. New York: Guilford.

2Most tests increase in difficulty from the lowest-numbered to the highest-numbered items and require that the student be given enough easier items to establish a “basal” or specified number of passed items and that the testing continue until the student does not pass a specified number of items for a “ceiling.”

3These “test scores” are the scaled scores, standard scores, or T scores that are used with the various tests. Please see p. i of the Appendix for explanations of these different statistics. The various systems are not directly comparable to one another. The percentile ranks and stanines in the next two columns are provided to offer a common system that is consistent across all of the tests.

 


 
I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about
ere again I ventured near;
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said:
“I’ll just take a peep inside.
I guess he’s cooked, and it’s time I looked”;. . .
then the door I opened wide.
 
And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm,
in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile,
and he said: “Please close that door.
It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear
you’ll let in the cold and storm —
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee,
it’s the first time I’ve been warm.”

JIFFY EVALUATION CENTER

DIAGNOSTIC EDUCATIONAL REEVALUATION

Name: Sam McGee Test date: 2/18/99
Parents: Mr. & Mrs. Robert W. Service Birth date 2/10/93
Address: 39 DawsonTrail Death date: 2/15/99
Moose Creek, Alaska Age: 6-0
School: Iditerod Elementary (6 years, 0 months)
Examiner: Ron Dumont, Ed.D. Grade: 1.5

REFERRAL

Thankfully, though ironically, Sam, who had been thought to have been cremated on the marge of Lake Lebarge, was simply “defrosted” by the funeral pyre fire. At the behest of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Service, Sam was retested. His parents, and his prior examiner, had noted Sam’s lethargic nature and his unwillingness (or inability) during testing to adequately perform the tasks at hand.

Sam came willingly with this examiner to the testing room. He complained a bit about the cold and asked that the air conditioner be turned off. He choose the seat closest to the heat vents and leaned back in his chair against the radiator. Sam was administered the Mini-Battery of Achievement (MBA). Sam attempted all tasks asked of him, but was only able to obtain a raw score of 1 for each subtest.

Sam’s scores are shown below. He achieved raw scores of one on all subtests.

A.E.

Percentile Rank

 SS
Basic Skills: reading, writing, and math skills 4-6 3 71
Reading: letter and word identification, vocabulary, and comprehension skills 6-5 70 108
Writing: punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and word usage skills 4-8 8 79
Mathematics: calculation, practical problems, and knowledge of math concepts and vocabulary 4-0 1 36
Factual Know.: science, social studies, and humanities 2-0 1 <1

Comparing Sam’s pre- and post-defrost performance, Sam’s overall Basic Skills remain low (standard score of 71, 3rd percentile). He has apparently shown dramatic increases in his Reading abilities (standard score of 108, 70th percentile), while his Writing skills have remained fairly close to those obtained on his prior evaluation (standard score of 79, 8th percentile). Most disconcerting is his drop in Mathematical abilities (standard score of 36, 1st percentile) as well as his overall dismal performance in Factual Knowledge (standard score of <1, 1st percentile).