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Very High Test Scores V "Underperformance" = Lack Of Effort?

pmmpmm Posts: 8Registered User New Member
Very High Test Scores V “Underperformance” = Lack Of Effort?

Although son was A-/B+ student two issues surfaced toward the end of 8th grade. His Advanced Math grade fell from “B” to a “C” in second to last grading period and teacher said he was not putting sufficient effort into his work. He went on to finish year with a B…case closed?

About the same time he came to us and said he was always last to finish his exams (not limited to Math) and this was becoming stressful and embarrassing. End of school was just 6 weeks away and we thought reading course during the summer would help. He readily agreed.

From ages 3-11 we resided outside of the US where he had attended English-speaking schools in each of the 3 countries where we were posted. At age 7 he was not yet able to read and he was tested by child psych who concluded, “very bright child, he will read when he is ready to read.” Six months later he was reading at a level far above his classmates.

HS Placement Exam scores were high and had indicated he could/should take all Honors classes available to 9th graders. We allowed him to be placed in just two (English1H and Math - GeoH) in order to “ensure” quality of education and reduce stress of transition.

He struggled with Math from Day 1 and had fallen to a “D” by the beginning of the second quarter. Conversations/written correspondence with teacher, GC, and math tutor (retained after issue arose ) were all over the board: intellectual capability, inability to process at speed of honors level course, minimal effort, transition issue, “this is just the way he is, you shouldn’t push him to be something he is not.”

Overall performance became “erratic” – mostly A’s and B’s but two-three missed Hwk assignments per class, two failed exams (in total), etc Struggle with Math impacting other classes?

My conclusion: very high test scores v underperformance = lack of effort and I began to over-manage and put significant pressure on him.

Towards the end of his sophomore year he told me “the harder I try the worse it gets, I think I have ADHD.”

I was diagnosed as having Bipolar Disorder II at age 47 (had not been identified for +/- 30 yrs) but there are conflicting second/third opinions. I am treated/medicated as if I have BP II by psychiatrist specializing in neuro pharmacology (he was one of the dissenters). I later learned he works mostly with those who have serious mental illnesses.

Immediately had son evaluated by psych and was told son doesn’t show signs of BP or ADHD, instead told I needed to back-off a little.

Four weeks before end of 10th grade took son to see college admission specialist (“so I could back-off”). She told him he needs significant improvement in grades in junior year in order to show trend of improvement - she believes he is capable of doing so. Also told him he needs very high Standardized Test scores - she believes high test scores will come rather easily for him.

His grades jumped up dramatically (high 80s to mid-90s) in all classes except Math. All Final exams in mid-80s….except Math…F(45%).

Son had been told 6 weeks earlier that he was being dropped from Math Honors Program because he had to work too hard to keep-up. His grade was a “B” at the time he was told this and it is true he needed to work harder in Math than in his other courses.

Following are Math scores from Standardized Tests taken in last two years. Composite/Overall scores are in same range.



MATH SCORES:

EXPLORE (8th grade) - 99th Percentile (US), 89th Percentile (District)
(HS placement)

PLAN (10th grade)- 95th percentile (US), 94th percentile (college-bound sophomores)

Pre-Algebra/Algebra - 86th, 84th ???

Geometry - 98th, 97th

PSAT (10th grade) - 91st percentile (sophomores), 87th percentile (college-bound juniors),

His Score v Mean School’s Juniors - 60 v 57.7

His Score v Mean School’s Sophomores - 60 v 55.8



Given his performance and/or challenges to-date I was afraid that the pressure from junior year would be too much and I was looking for information on standardized test strategies in CC when the headline “What's with being really smart and having learning disabilities too?” caught my attention.

I started to read some of the posts and immediately began to freak-out. Have I missed the possibility of my son having a learning disability and instead done further damage by exerting too much pressure? If so, what help is needed? How much damage can be “un-done”?

I’ll deal later with the “I hate myself right now. Of all people I should never have missed this issue”. Right now that’s not the priority
Post edited by pmm on

Replies to: Very High Test Scores V "Underperformance" = Lack Of Effort?

  • Cardinal FangCardinal Fang Posts: 8,991Registered User Senior Member
    We can't diagnose your son over the Internet, but it sounds like there could be a learning disability. Take him to an educational psychologist and have him tested.

    And try not to hit yourself over the head with choices you wish you'd made. You did what you thought was best for your son. My favorite saying is, "You have to start where you are." Right now, your son is struggling in some areas, and you need to figure out the best way to help him; looking back doesn't solve any problems.
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Posts: 19,412Registered User Senior Member
    CF is on target here. Don't kick yourself over what you should have/could have/would have done. You did your best with what you know.

    Now, considering that high test scores combined with lousy classroom grades are one of the classic indicators of attention issues, the fact that no one at your child's school has dragged him in for evaluation before now really sets off alarms for me. Those teachers had him in class and did not once notice where he was doing well and where he wasn't? Not a single one of them caught on that he was ALWAYS the last to finish a test? Not a single one of them noticed that he was way too good at what he was good at to be so bad at what he was bad at? Why, I could just shake every single one of them!

    You have a right as a parent to request a meeting with the Special Education team at his school and to request a full evaluation. And, if you ask for it (well, you may have to nag and pester them a bit), they have to give it to you. This is Federal law. You also can take him to be screened by an outside expert in learning disabilities if you want to. However, the school's services are free and if you don't have the big bucks, you may want to start there.

    Getting the problem identified is the first step in helping your son get to where he really wants to be.

    Wishing both of you all the very best.
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