Home > Teens > Teen Health and Safety > Drugs and Alcohol > Dramatic Drop in Grades Signals Problem
|

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Dramatic Drop in Grades Signals Problem

Middle School Expert Advice from Connie Collins

Q: My ninth-grader's grades have changed dramatically this year. I took him to Sylvan Learning Center because I wanted to have him assessed. All throughout elementary and middle school, he was an honor student. This fall, he entered high school, taking honors courses. He also met this girl who has had a negative influence on him. As soon as he started with her, his grades fell. The next quarter they were D's and E's. I told him that I didn't want him talking to the girl and grounded him by not allowing him to go out to the movies and or be with his other friends, so he could concentrate on his work.

Then I received a call from Sylvan Learning telling me that my son's reading comprehension is between second and fifth grade! What should I do? Perhaps you can tell me how to motivate a teenage boy to read and read with comprehension. This is so crucial because of the PSAT's. Please let me know what to do in this situation.

A: There are two distinct issues here, although they are related. First, let's discuss the reading comprehension. Professionally, I have serious doubts that your son's comprehension is so low. It would be nearly impossible for him to achieve and be recommended for honor classes without having had good comprehension. Some teacher along the way would have noticed something. I find it hard to believe that all of them would just give him A's and B's. I recommend you contact his school counselor and review his reading achievement scores from the school tests. Compare those with the Sylvan scores. Talk with the counselor about any discrepancies. Don't sign a contract with Sylvan just yet.

I believe your son needs testing, but not a reading test. When grades drop so drastically and behavior changes so much, parents need to rule out drug/alcohol usage through a drug assessment by a professional. Contact the school counselor for a possible free assessment. Don't let your son talk you out of it. Emphasize that it is to "rule out" any drug/alcohol abuse.

As for the girl, you have already experienced a typical teen reaction -- you pushed and forbade and he pushed back. You can and should certainly limit his talking on the phone to anyone and how much he goes out. Sometimes a reverse technique helps. You might try telling him that he can invite his girlfriend over on the weekend for dinner with the family or for a movie at your house (while you are there, of course) when he has done all his homework for the week. You can have him bring home a report from his school to verify this. If she truly is the problem, she either won't come, or she will come and everyone can learn a little more about each other and she will cease to be a negative influence.

More on: Expert Advice

Connie Collins, professional school counselor, worked for 35 years in public education as a teacher and counselor at the middle school and secondary levels. Collins worked daily with the parents of the students in her various schools, and has facilitated several parenting groups.


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.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

Printable Fall Fun To-Do List
Celebrate the cooler weather with this printable checklist of fun fall activities for your whole family.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

Top 10 Care Package Items for College Students
Show your college student that you love and miss her by mailing a care package full of dorm room essentials and comforting treats. Whether it's her birthday, exam time, or just because, get care package ideas to brighten her day.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!