Membean is personalized to each student from the very first time they log in. Calibration is a simple yet accurate process that allows us to measure the student's vocabulary size and select a word set just for them. This article will explain what to expect from Membean's calibration process. Please note that Membean levels do not reflect student intelligence, Lexile score, or grade level. Levels are simply a way for us to calibrate a student along our word list. Click here for more information on where our words come from.

Beginning Calibration

When a student logs in to Membean for the first time, they will be prompted to begin the calibration process. The student will click the blue Start Calibration button, and the process will take around 5-7 minutes to complete.

Students will only calibrate this once throughout their entire Membean careers. Even when they return the next school year or if they change schools, they will continue from where they left off rather than recalibrating. 

Teachers and students do not have the ability to reset calibration. Therefore, it's very important that this process is taken seriously.

How Calibration Works

During calibration, students will be asked whether or not they know certain words. We take signals, which are good English words, and noise, made up English words, and see how well a student separates the signal from the noise. The more real words the student knows, the higher level they will be placed. The fake words prevent overconfident students from calibrating onto a level that is too high for them. 

High school students will calibrate onto a level in our high school list. Middle school students will calibrate across the levels in both our lower-middle and middle-high lists. You can learn more about our word lists and their levels here.

Viewing a Student's Calibration Results

You can easily determine if a student took the calibration process seriously by reviewing their responses to it. If you are concerned about a student's placement or want to look into a student's calibration, just follow these steps:

Step 1: From the Students tab, click the eye icon in the right-hand corner.

Step 2: Check the box next to Start Level.

Step 3: Now that you've added the necessary column, click on the student's Start Level.

Step 4: You will then see a breakdown of each word they encountered during calibration and how they marked it. This makes it very easy to tell if the student took the calibration process seriously. 

When to Recalibrate

There are only a few cases where having a student recalibrate is the appropriate action. It is a good choice under the following circumstances:

  1. The student did not treat the calibration process seriously. Most commonly, students who do this mark that they know all words to get to a high level. They may believe that doing so will get them out of work, or they may believe that they already know everything. Because they also mark that they know pseudo-English words, they are placed on level 1. Likewise, a student may mark that they don't know anything, hoping for an easier experience. A quick glance at the student's calibration responses will tell you if they fall into this category.
  2. The student is on the wrong word list. Sometimes ESL students or students with learning disabilities are accidentally placed on word lists too advanced for them. This could also happen with gifted middle school students who should calibrate across our high school word list. In these cases, moving the student up or down may be necessary.
  3. The student hasn't used Membean in a very long time. If a student has a large gap in their training, it may be necessary to have them recalibrate. For example, if a student last used Membean in 8th grade and will now be using it again as a 10th grader, it would be a good idea to recalibrate. 

Reach out to support@membean.com if you have a student who meets one of these descriptions, and we will help make sure the student is on the appropriate list and level.

When Not to Recalibrate

In most cases, recalibration is not the appropriate action to take. It is an illogical choice under the following circumstances:

  1. The student has been training for a while. Recalibration terminates an account, destroying all assessment data, training, and information our engine has collected on the student to help further personalize their learning experience. Membean functions best when this data is kept intact for the entirety of a student's time with the program. There is no getting this data back. You'll need to confirm that you're okay with losing everything before support allows a student to recalibrate.
  2. You want all your students on the same level at the start of the school year. Membean is meant to be a personalized, differentiated learning program. Forcing students to all be on the same level can be discouraging and inhibit learning. One of Membean's greatest strengths is meeting students where they are and challenging them appropriately. Having everyone start at the same level eliminates this aspect of our personalization. 
  3. You want to slow down or speed up student learning. Learn about adjusting student preferences and best practices. These paths will likely fix any student issue.
  4. A parent wants their child at a particular level. The student is placed at the appropriate level when they calibrate. Regular training will help the student learn and retain new vocabulary. Manually leveling up a student destroys all account data and is detrimental to the learning experience.
  5. The student is unhappy with their level placement. Grade levels and vocabulary knowledge are weakly correlated. Levels absolutely do not reflect student intelligence. Calibration is merely an indication of where to start a student so they are appropriately challenged. If they feel they need more of a challenge, encourage them to utilize the IKT Button for words they know. If they feel Membean is too challenging, have them spend more time reviewing the word pages. 

If you are unsure whether or not a student should be recalibrated, reach out to support@membean.com and let us know the situation. We're happy to help you figure out what is best for your students.