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Low GPA in Eighth Grade

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: Recently I had my son tested at Huntington Learning Center. I was told that he took the Metropolitan Test Level Advanced 1 form L. He is currently in seventh grade with a grade point average of 88.3 which puts him on the honor roll. My problem is that,according to the Huntington Learning Center, he is way below his grade point average scoring in the fifteenth percentile in vocabulary and in reading comprehension.

Oral reading level at only 20 percent at seventh grade level and silent reading comprehension at only 10 percent. I was sort of stunned at the results. The reason he took the test was to find out what he might be weak in so it would help him when he took the entrance exam for Aquinas Institute in Rochester, N.Y. It seems now,after taking the test,that he needs help in many areas and that his chances of getting into Aquinas might be slim to non existent. This upsets him and the whole family. We take school very seriously and realize grades are important but now I not sure about anything any more. Im not sure what my next step should be. Should I bring this information to the attention of the school district? Could it be that Huntington Learning Center just wants more testing,therefore ,more cash outlay ? I'm just not sure. Any information you could give me would be appreciated.

A: I certainly can understand the dismay of your son at discovering, according to this "learning center", that his honor role status and grade point average are totally inaccurate and that, furthermore, he desperately needs help in EVERY major learning area. Where's his confidence now? Where's his identity concerning his role as a student?

First, let's step back and take a deep breath and see what the possible explanations and ramifications of these test findings are. Let's ask the right questions. Along with this center's telling you your son's disturbing test results, did they also suggest a "learning plan" that they could offer him that would address all his problems and adequately prepare him for his planned entrance exam? I suggest you at least consider some self-interest on the part of this center. Is this center's testing the best indicator of your son's readiness and skill levels for future private schooling. I would think his present teachers would have more intimate and useful knowledge of your son's academic abilities and should be relied upon to give a more valued assessment of his readiness. Is it possible your son and many others have been allowed to move through this school system, getting "good grades", without ANY teachers picking up on the considerable learning problems these particular tests reveal? These are some of the questions you need to address now.

After talking to your son's individual subject teachers and perhaps the school's principal to get their responses, I would seek out one or two individual "tutor-type" educational specialists who could both assess these test results and talk/work with your son so they could arrive at their own baseline judgments of your son's readiness to not only be tested for but also attend this particular school. Let's not also forget the tremendous pressure your son may have felt during this test and how this could have affected the results. I recall the valedictorian of my high school class would become so anxiety-ridden before taking any standardized tests geared towards measuring academic aptitude and/or intelligence that she would "fail" them miserably.

Good luck in pursuing this matter. An immediate priority should be the damaged self-concept of your son and the means to restore it.

More on: Expert Advice

Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

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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