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Disappointing Achievement Test Score

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: My son just completed fourth grade. His achievement test scores have gone from the 90th plus percentile composite through second grade, the 83rd percentile in third grade, to the 20th percentile this year. He makes A's and B's and is very bright. He's an active boy, but has no trouble focusing. Being an educator myself, I don't see signs of a learning disability. His handwriting and reading are grade level. I understand that there are several students from his school who experienced the same problem. I'm worried that he isn't getting the information he needs to succeed. What can I do to insure his educational success?

A: More than one achievement test score needs to be looked at in order to determine if your son's school is providing him and the other students with the education they deserve. Your son's previous pattern has been to do well on these tests, which indicates that the school has probably given him a good background in the first three grades.

There may be a very good explanation of why your child performed so poorly this year. Perhaps he didn't feel well or didn't try to do his best on the test. Increasingly, students are required to take so many standardized tests that they don't always try as hard as they should. Before your son takes another achievement test, you might want to give him a pep talk about the advantages of trying to do well on these tests.

It would be a good idea for you to determine what the average composite test score was for other students in his grade this year. If the scores for most students have lowered dramatically from previous years, there may be a problem. Be concerned if most students are now scoring substantially below the 50th percentile in reading, language arts, and mathematics. Low scores in science and social studies do not necessarily indicate problems, because achievement tests don't always measure what the students were actually taught in these classes as curriculums vary from state to state.

If a substantial number of students in your son's grade didn't score as high as they have done in previous years, the problem needs to be addressed. Probably, the most effective way to do this is by having the parent-teacher organization work with the school administration.

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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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