Sam is in the 3rd grade. He hates to read. His school requires him to read so many pages a semester in order to receive a passing grade. He has not been diagnosed with a "true"learning disability yet. However, based on school performance, his attitude toward school and his behavior have led his parents, teachers and principal to suspect that he may have a severe learning problem.
Sam's level of reading is at the 2.5 grade level or the 5th month of 2nd grade. Sam takes books home so that his mom can read the books with him.
NOTE: Many schools have the Accelerated Reader program. Children are expected to pick books on a list, read the book and take a computer test when finished. They must pass the test in order to receive the points accredited to that book. They are allowed to take the test 3 times.
However when Sam takes the test, he never passes it. His parents even had him write a summary of the book as he read it. But this didn't help him either. Finally, I suggested that I watch him take the test on the computer to see if I could figure out what might be the problem.
The problem was that the questions did not go in the order of the book. For instance, a question about the last chapter might be the number 2 or number 3 question on the test. The test also included a question about what someone had said. Sometimes the questions about insignificant things.
For a learning disabled student, this kind of test is very frustrating. Sam knew the main parts of the book. He could tell me what the book was about and who the characters were. He probably could have passed this book test if it wouldn't have skipped around.
To prove this theory, I helped him when he took another test over a different book. Before taking the test, I had him tell me what the book was about. I asked him questions to help him put his thoughts in the correct order.
Next I had him read the first question. I asked him if the question was from the front of the book, middle or the end. Sometimes he would be correct and sometimes he was wrong.
If he was wrong, I would turn to that part of the book and have him read a paragraph. This usually tripped his memory and he would recall what happened. Out of 10 questions, he was able to get 8 correct. This was enough help that he was able to pass the test.
This experience taught me that refusals to take tests, consistent failures and refusals to read a book is an indication that something is wrong. Many times students can't express what is wrong. Parents and teachers need to recognize some of these signs and be able to help their student.
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