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Possible Effect of Emotional State on Terra Nova Scores

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: In first grade, on the Terra Nova, my daughter scored 82 percentile in reading, 76 in language arts, and 96 in math.

In second grade, her school said they were pleased with the scores and asked her to stay after school 1 hour twice a week to study for the Terra Nova. They told us they hoped to move her from "border line above average" to "clearly above average." My daughter did this for 5 months.

We suspected this was done to try to make the school look good. But we agreed because we hoped she might learn something with the extra study and attention.

After 5 months of extra work, her second grade Terra Nova scores were 90 percentile in reading, 42 percentile in language arts, and 58 percentile in math.

We were quite disappointed, primarily because my daughter did all these extra work and it showed no results. I felt bad for her. When I asked her about it, she said she was thinking about my mother, who died about 1 year before the exam. She also said she felt like she learned things when she stayed after school. So I felt better when she said that.

Then we received a letter from the school saying they wanted to put her in remedial classes because her Terra Nova scores were so low. So after 5 months of extra study, we have gone from her school being very please with her scores to them wanting to put her in remedial classes.

I have had discussions with the principal. We agreed she would not go in the remedial classes unless a teacher worked with her for a couple months and said she needed it.

What should I make of this and what should I do now? My wife thinks she might have skipped a line in answering the questions. The principal suggested the counsellor talk with her to see if she is having a problem dealing with my mother's death.

A: It is quite strange that after 5 months of extra work, there was some increase on reading, but a big drop in language arts and math. Something just does not seem right here.

Firstly you need to get a very clear interpretation on her scores (by having a break down) and looking for her weak areas. You would also need to look into the Terra Nova prep class that she had for the 5 months. Does it really help? Is she really doing good work in that hour? The school is accountable for this, at least to help you understand the reason for her low scores. Ask the teacher in charge if she showed any emotions during the prep class or if she had been slacking. Within 2 months of the class, the teacher should have noticed if she was behaving differently towards the lessons. They should have warned you if she was not performing well.

Of course, there is a strong possibility that she was affected by the loss of her grandmother. At her age, she was probably not able to cope with the pain and that may have affected her performance. It would be good if your wife and you could try to get her talking on this subject. If she is still affected badly after a year, she may need professional help and the school counselor may be a good start. It does not look like a good plan to put her in remedial class without really finding out where what went wrong. So let a teacher work with her for sometime to see if she really needs it. At the same time, you may want to frequently check how the teacher is helping her.

On your part, some help from home would be very good. Take time to help her with her work, enriching her interest areas and working on her weaknesses. Help from all sides would surely ensure a better educational plan for her. Good luck!


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