Intervention? said Virginia. Yes, said Ditto, every day during lunch I have to meet with a special teacher. Until when? said Virginia. Until I pass the next Dibels. What if you fail the next one? Then, said Ditto, I continue to be intervened.
An abject failiure? said Virginia. Yes, said Ditto, that’s what the teacher called me. I’ve never heard the word “abject”, said Virginia. “Abject”, said Ditto, refers to someone cast down in spirit, someone reduced to hopelessness and surrender. Really? said Virginia. Yes, said Ditto, at least that’s the way Thoreau uses it. Thoreau? said Virginia. Henry David Thoreau, said Ditto, a man who wrote a book called Walden—my parents have a copy and they let me read it. Was Thoreau abject? said Virginia. No, said Ditto, but near the end of the book when he’s talking about the importance of protecting your thoughts he says, “Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts… if I were confined to a corner of a garret all my days, like a spider, the world would be just as large to me while I had my thoughts… from an army of three divisions one can take away its general, and put it in disorder, but from the man the most abject and vulgar one cannot take away his thought.” How come you can read Walden, said Virginia, but can’t pass the Dibels? I don’t know, said Ditto, I guess Walden is a different kind of reading, or maybe Thoreau has been outlawed.
It’s your turn, said Virginia, I’m sure you’ll do fine.
Alright big-nose, said the schoolmarm, you’ve got sixty seconds.
Read as many words as fast as you can… Begin!
DIBELS Nonsense Word Fluency
bol kiv ul jac lel
fij kug jat oj deg
wav pek yos mub fiv
ec faj vog kif puk
“bol?” said Ditto, What’s a “bol?” Just read the word, said the schoolmarm. But “bol” isn’t a word. Just read the word, said the schoolmarm. But it doesn’t make sense. Just read the word, said the schoolmarm. But there aren’t any words. Just read the word, said the schoolmarm. This isn’t English, said Ditto. Just read the word, said the schoolmarm. Can I use a Rosetta stone? Just read the word, said the schoolmarm. Or the Pentagon’s decoding program? Just read the word, said the schoolmarm. Or maybe a soothsayer? Just read the word, said the schoolmarm. Or a deck of Tarot cards? Stop! said the schoolmarm. Your time’s up! You scored one out of forty, you’re a red light. A red light? said Ditto. Yes, said the schoolmarm, an abject failure, you’ll start intervention in the morning.
Will they kick me out of school, said Ditto, if I fail the Dibels test? No, said Virginia, they’ll put you in an intervention class an hour a day until you pass the test. What if I never pass? Then you’ll be in intervention forever, said Virginia. Isn’t there any way, said Ditto, I can get kicked out of school?
Spring is here, said Virginia, only two months before summer vacation. Summer vacation? said Ditto. Yes, said Virginia. What’s summer vacation? That’s when we get three months off before coming back to school. Coming back? said Ditto. Yes, said Virginia, in the fall. For how long? said Ditto. Until the next summer, said Virginia. And then? said Ditto. Until the summer after that, said Virginia. How long do we have to keep coming? Forever, said Virginia. Forever? said Ditto. Yes, said Virginia, until we grow old.
Our stickball team played for the championship last year, said Ditto. Really? said Virginia. Yes, said Ditto, I was the starting rightfielder. Did Dustin Pedroia ever play rightfield? said Virginia. He must have when he was young, said Ditto, everyone begins in rightfield. Really? said Virginia. I thought the rightfielder was the worst player on the team. No, no, no, said Ditto, I led the league in on-base percent. Really? said Virginia. What was your batting average? I didn’t get any hits, said Ditto, but I had 86 walks and one out. Like Eddie Gaedel, said Virginia. Eddie Gaedel? said Ditto. Yes, said Virginia, the shortest man to ever play in the majors. He was three feet seven inches tall, came to bat once in 1951, and walked on four pitches. His lifetime on-base percentage is 1.000. Really? said Ditto. Three feet seven is the shortest ever? I think so, said Virginia. Hmm, said Ditto, I wonder if Dustin Pedroia lies about his height?