Courtney was a second grader who could read at a 5th grade level but could only comprehend at a 2nd grade level. By mid-year of 2nd grade, Courtney was failing in school. She didn't want to go to school. Her parents couldn't understand why because she was a very like-able student and loved her friends.
Her parents were torn between keeping her in 2nd grade or letting her go on to 3rd grade. When I tested Courtney, I felt that she was a very bright student and with summer tutoring she could catch up.
At the end of summer, Courtney had a positive attitude about school. Her parents and I thought she could move on to 3rd grade. The school agreed to cut back on homework if it was anything other than reading, writing or math.
I went to her school two days a week to work with her. Although her parents worked with her for 2-3 hours each night, she did not improve academically.
The teachers said that Courtney seemed to be zoned out and not thinking about what was going on in the classroom. They also said that she usually waited for someone else to provide an answer for her even when she had been the one called upon.
Courtney worked well with her parents. She was always attentive when she worked with them. When I tutored Courtney, she was always very cooperative, and eager to learn.
I believe that Courtney had an attention problem that had not been diagnosed. When she worked one to one with someone, she did very well. When she tried to do work in class, she got distracted by all the sights and sounds going on around her. She knew what to do, but she couldn't concentrate with all the activity around her.
Courtney was in a classroom which split teaching duties. She had one teacher in the morning and a different teacher in the afternoon. The teachers had two very distinct ways of teaching and of discipline. Changes such as changing teachers can be difficult for a child that has any kind of learning or reading disability.
Half way through the year, I could see Courtney shutting down because the homework and projects were just too much for her. Even though she was supposed to have limited assignments, the teachers didn't comply. Because she went to a private school, she didn't have an IEP.
At this time, I also realized that she was having trouble in social studies as well as the reading assignments. I found that the common denominator between these two subjects was that Courtney was not processing the information she was reading. Therefore she was not building a foundation of background knowledge.
Without background knowledge, Courtney was not able to understand the more abstract ideas in fantasy or fairy tale stories she had to read from the basals.
Also, without background knowledge, she had trouble understanding things about other countries. This would affect her understanding when reading in content areas like social studies or history.
Courtney did go on to 4th grade. There was a new principal at the private school that assured the parents that she would have a better year. The public school district assured the parents that they also would work with her. The teacher was a 35 year veteran who assured the parents not to worry about their daughter.
This story isn't over. The school year is just beginning. Expectations are high and enthusiasm is great.
Unfortunately, shortly after the new school began, Courtney's parents decided that with the cost of private schooling and tutoring, they couldn't afford both. Needless to say, I lost touch with Courtney and am not aware of how her schooling progressed.
Over the years, I have ran into many of my students or their parents. Everyone of them tells me that their child went on to graduate from high school. Of course some of these diplomas were "special" if the student had an IEP.
Some of my past students went on to become teachers, firemen, helping with the family business and other different careers that you can imagine. There have been a couple of students that had such severe learning disabilities that although they did not go on to college or a trade school, they did become an integral part of society and held various jobs.
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