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Achievement Test Indicators

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

Q: I have a 15-year-old female sophomore who scores in the 90th percentile and above in the reading and related components of achievement tests. However, she is in the 40-50th percentile in math concepts. This is a child that wanted to become a child psychologist but I fear she will not be able to pass college classes in her weak areas. What can I do to make math more of a living experience rather than a stressor?

A: Achievement tests cannot possibly measure everything that students learn and are not a perfect measure of what individual students can or cannot do. If your daughter's scores on math concepts have been in the 40th to 50th percentile on several tests, then her knowledge of math concepts may truly be in the average to slightly below average range.

Before worrying about your child having trouble in her college classes, you need to take a closer look at her achievement test scores. Besides scores in math concepts, there are usually several scores in computation and a total math score. Are these in the same range or higher? Why don't you and your daughter discuss her test scores with her math teacher? He or she will be able to relate these scores to how your daughter is doing in her math class to give you a good picture of your child's strengths and weaknesses in math.

If your child truly has weaknesses in math, ask her math teacher for suggestions on ways she can improve these areas. Working with an experienced tutor or going to a learning center this summer could be helpful. Your daughter has two years before she will go to college so there is ample time to improve her math skills.

With all of your daughter's other achievement test scores in the 90th percentile and above, she should do well in college. Why don't you both look at the courses required for a psychology major as well as talk to someone who has majored in psychology to learn more about what is needed for this major?

More on: Expert Advice

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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