Entire 8th Grade Class Purposefully Drops To A 2nd Grade Reading Level

This teacher isn't sure whether to be angry or disappointed.

Teacher looks disappointed while sitting in the library. Jarmoluk, Karolina Grabowska / CanvaPro

Not only are teachers tasked with the gargantuan job of educating the next generation, but they're also stuck dealing with the emotional, physical, and mental tolls that come with the job. Despite the importance of their role, teachers nowadays are almost always underpaid, undervalued, and underappreciated. 

To make matters worse, society often ties students’ success to their teachers' credibility — ultimately holding them accountable when students aren’t doing well, even if it is outside of their control. One teacher shared a recent experience on TikTok demonstrating just how unfair the system is.


The teacher realized his entire 8th-grade class purposefully did poorly on reading evaluations knowing their lessons would be easier. 

Middle school teacher Wes Stephenson shared a video expressing his disappointment after his entire 8th-grade class intentionally failed their diagnostic reading test to get unnecessarily easier work, painting a sad picture of the reality of teachers’ lives today. 

“When your entire 8th-grade team purposely tanks their ‘iReady diagnostics’ and drop down to a 2nd-grade reading level because they know the lessons are easier and there will be no consequences," the teacher wrote over the video.




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Like many other standard testing curriculums, “iReady Diagnostics” acts as a web-based assessment and instruction program — one that tests students and assigns them lessons based on their unique abilities, skills, and knowledge. 

Scores on assessments are based on a numeric scoring system that’s then used to divvy up content between students. However, when this teacher’s class purposely did poorly on their assessments, he realized they were being automatically assigned lessons meant for 2nd-grade level students. 


Disappointed in his class, Stephenson decided to post about it, while presumably staying late to reassign all of his students’ lessons manually to ensure they were learning at an appropriate level. "I can’t wait to see when the kids start coming up to me saying why [is my] lesson so hard," he wrote in the comments.

Entire 8th Grade Class Purposefully Drops Reading Level To Make Lessons EasierPhoto: Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock

Despite his annoyance and overall disgust with the situation, Stephenson expressed his gratitude towards students who “did their best” in the caption of the video: “To the few who try hard no matter the challenge… thank you. You are our world’s hope for the future.” 


“Don’t give up,” he wrote afterward, both a reminder to his students, himself, and other teachers struggling to be their best amidst a variety of modern-day challenges

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The teacher admitted there are ‘no real consequences’ for the students, but their purposeful failure will greatly impact the teachers. 

Fellow teachers commented on the video expressing their sympathy for the teacher and adding that it will be he who takes the brunt of the consequences for his students' behavior. 

“What’s even more sad,” one user wrote, “is when part of our evaluations include showing growth on iReady.” Stephenson's response to the comment seemed agreeable, as he wrote, “Interesting that we can base all of our progress and credibility on the willingness of 12-year-olds to do their best.” 




Many teachers advocate for abolishing “performance-based pay” — a system that bases compensation for educators on the progress and success of their students. 

“That’s like only paying doctors for the patients who don’t get sick,” one teacher on TikTok argued. "If my pay can be determined by a student's poor choices, then my doctor’s salary should definitely be determined by mine.” 


Luckily, in Stephenson's school district, his students’ decision to purposefully do poorly on the reading assessment will not affect his compensation. However, in other districts, there would be a possibility that his livelihood could be negatively impacted by the tanked tests. (This passage was changed to clarify that in Stephenson's school district, student test scores are not reflected in teachers' compensation.)

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Zayda Slabbekoorn is a news and entertainment writer at YourTango focusing on pop culture analysis and human interest stories.