I'm freaking out (as a parent)

Discussion in 'General Education' started by HeartDrama, Dec 29, 2012.

  1. HeartDrama

    HeartDrama Connoisseur

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    Dec 29, 2012

    I just got my son's PSAT scores in the mail. They were terrible. I'm not exaggerating. Seriously, I want to cry..again. In having conversations with his teachers over the past few years, I've always known that he just doesn't test well, but this is too much. He scored in the 7th percentile in the math section. SEVENTH! He only got 7/38 questions right. His math teacher recommended him for advanced geometry this year, how does he score in the 7th percentile?!
    The school sent a detailed score report that showed all of his answers and the correct answers along with the test booklet he had on that day. I am terrible at math and I was able to answer some of the questions correctly. I asked him about a few of them and he said that the way the questions were worded was confusing. He's able to answer them correctly when you ask the questions directly, so where is the disconnect?
    His scores in critical reading and writing weren't much better. He scored in the 11th and 36th percentile respectively. I just don't understand. This will seriously hamper his college options. I don't see how any measure of SAT prep will help him.
    He's currently taking advanced geometry, advanced English, and AP European History and is an A & B student.

    How can there be such a disparity between his grades and his test performance?
    What do I do?
    I want to cry again.
     
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  3. JustMe

    JustMe Guru

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    Dec 29, 2012

    What are the PSATs? A pretest of sorts for the SAT? I only took the SAT.

    How does he feel? That's probably what I'd be most concerned about right now. If he recognizes the need to improve, then great. There are things you can do. If he's cool about it (assuming he's not just playing it cool to save face), then I'd be concerned.

    And even if this is his very best, it will be okay. I am successful despite worse math scores. Yes, you read that right: worse.

    ETA: :hugs:
     
  4. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Dec 29, 2012

    Some people are just lousy test takers but really bright. People shine in different ways.

    Are you hoping that he goes directly to a university? I was able to go to junior college first, then onto a university all without having taken the SATs (I was in homeschool, and it never dawned on me to take it). Plus, it'll save him/you money. And, perhaps a light bulb may go off or he just may mature where he can understand wording better, or become a better test taker, etc.

    But if the goal is that your son attends a university right out of high school, then I can certainly understand the stress.

    How does he do on tests in school?
     
  5. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Dec 29, 2012

    :hugs:, heart. Maybe schedule an appointment with you, son, and his guidance counselor?
     
  6. HeartDrama

    HeartDrama Connoisseur

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    Dec 29, 2012

    Before I started looking at the results in detail, I assumed that he was just blowing it off. That he didn't really try and didn't understand how important the test is. Granted, the PSAT is no big deal essentially, but it's a gauge for the SAT. He is pretty far below the benchmarks for his grade.

    @Peachy, he does plan to go directly to university because he plans to play football. We're hoping for a scholarship. He also has West Point on his list, but I don't know that it will be an option now, I'll take CzaCza's advice and talk to his counselor. He generally struggles on tests in school. His AP Euro teacher discussed it with me during Parent/Teacher conferences. He thought my son wasn't studying because he's performing well in every other aspect of the class. It's like his brain stops working when he sits down to test.
     
  7. FourSquare

    FourSquare Enthusiast

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    Dec 29, 2012

    This doesn't help you, but this is exactly why test scores should not be used to evaluate teachers!

    Could he sign up for an SAT prep class? I feel like those classes specifically teach you how to navigate the test. :hugs:
     
  8. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician Groupie

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    Dec 29, 2012

    The first time I took the SAT I got a 1640 (out of 2400). After studying with the book, I got up to 2210. The SAT is not an intelligence test---taking the test is a skill in itself. He can definitely get it up and make good strides if he wants to.
     
  9. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Dec 29, 2012

    I'm not sure if I'm remembering correctly, but is this the same son who used profanity in an email to a teacher when he was accused of changing grades in the computer?
     
  10. HeartDrama

    HeartDrama Connoisseur

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    Dec 30, 2012

    :lol:Oh Thank you Caesar! I needed that. THAT was a good one. :lol:

    I wish my child would.
     
  11. JustMe

    JustMe Guru

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    Dec 30, 2012

    That was Cheer's son.
     
  12. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Ah, gotcha. :)
     
  13. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    Dec 30, 2012

    Does your son suffer from test anxiety? I do, and it affected me all through college.
     
  14. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Fanatic

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    Dec 30, 2012

    I would recommend SAT prep for him. It can't possibly hurt! I would try to find a personal tutor who specializes in test anxiety. He mentioned that the wording of the questions was confusing, and that will help him. If that doesn't work, consider having him tested for some sort of mild learning disability. It's possible that with the right accommodations (extended time, etc.) he might do very well on tests.
     
  15. chebrutta

    chebrutta Fanatic

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    Dec 30, 2012

    I honestly wouldn't worry about it.

    I took the PSAT in 9th, 10th, and 11th grades.

    I did great in 9th. I did OK in 10th. I bombed it in 11th. I really don't believe I gradually became less in intelligent.

    My parents bought a CD SAT prep program for me. I worked a little each day, and I ended up with a respectable score on the SAT (math still wasn't great, but hey, I've always been horrible in math).
     
  16. 3Sons

    3Sons Connoisseur

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    Dec 30, 2012

    ETS, which makes all tthe SATs, publishes and sells many of their old tests. Buy all of them, and have your son take them starting at least six weeks before he takes the actual SAT (you can do it earlier if you want, but make sure he refreshes his memory on it for several weeks before he actually takes the test). When he takes these, have him sit down and do it timed, at a kitchen table or something.

    After each one, go through all the questions and have him write down why each and every possible selection was wrong and why the right answer was right. Do this even for questions he answered correctly, since he may have guessed at some of these. This was the exercise I went through as an SAT instructor for the Princeton Review, and it was quite helpful.

    Also, he should stop answering the last five or six questions on the math portion (there's actually a calculation of how many questions he should stop answereing, but I don't know that calculation offhand.) Leaving them blank will raise his score because he is almost certainly getting them wrong and incurring a penalty doing so. It will also give him more time to focus on the earlier questions.

    The SAT is not only not a test of IQ, it's not even a test of math and verbal skills really. The SAT tests one thing: how well one takes an SAT.

    Above all, don't panic. Fear won't help him. Learning how to understand the SAT will.

    Edit: by the way, your son is absolutely correct that the wording of the questions is confusing. That's quite intentional on their part, designed to throw people off. The good part is that there are a limited number of tricks they can use. Learn those, and learn how to spot them, and the odd language use becomes much less of an issue.
     
  17. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    Dec 30, 2012

    A lot of my students express similar concerns, and many of them similarly bomb the test, even though they too have As and Bs. My only advice is to practice similar questions, over and over (as other posters have noted). You asked for potential reasons for the disconnect between grades and the test scores though....

    Aside from test anxiety, which others have spoken toward, it may be (unfortunately) a problem with schooling itself now. We spend so much time in my building working toward learning specific content that the kids get a broad range of rote memorization tasks throughout their classes, but precious little critical thinking. Thus I've found that if a test question is worded even a bit differently from how the kid saw it in class, quite a few students get confused, and then get the question wrong. For example:

    If the textbook or class discussion noted "The first president of the United States was George Washington" -- the kids expect similar phrasing on the test. But if the test asked "The new leader of the United States government following the implementation of the Constitution was _________."

    The question is written in a more complex fashion because the College Board (writers of SAT and AP) seem to do that sort of thing quite often. But it's still asking essentially the same thing. And yet quite a few of my kids got that question wrong. They KNEW that George Washington was the first president. But the question didn't specifically say that, so they got lost.

    It's a crappy situation, and I work hard in my classes to get my kids to stop and THINK about what questions are asking before they answer. But it's a constant struggle.
     
  18. geoteacher

    geoteacher Cohort

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    Dec 30, 2012

    Don't stress this too much - and I say that as a parent of a National Merit scholar and another child whose PSAT was average. This particular test only matters for the scholarship competition. That being said, I would suggest having your son do some SAT prep - perhaps even a formal prep course - so that he is a prepared as he can be for the 'real' test.
     
  19. hatima

    hatima Devotee

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    Dec 30, 2012

    I took the SAT and ACT tests twice each. I took both my junior year and wanted to do better. I took them again senior year and did worse. The weekend of the test my family was moving and I was exausted. I am not sure these tests portray how well someone will do in college. I know plenty of people who scored high and did poorly in college. I think these tests have a huge diconnect from what students can really do, as you saw with your son.

    Best of luck. I always got really nervous, and still do, for tests. I had nightmares every night before a test...about the test. Someone told me to take the PSAT to practice and lesson the stress.
     
  20. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Dec 30, 2012

    What grade is he in? That's hugely important to this question and I don't see it asked/answered anywhere.

    Also, this shows the sad disconnect between teaching. learning, grading and testing. They should all be aligned and frankly I don't think you could find a solid correlation on any 2 of the 4 let alone all 4 together.
     
  21. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    Dec 30, 2012

    What grade is he in? If he's in a lower grade, like a freshman, than he hasn't learned many of the tested standards yet. That's why they improve each year. I would also get him some testing materials to practice, and maybe a tutor if he needs one. Sometimes there are SAT test classes offered. It helps if the student gets involved and wants to improve the scores, otherwise it's just throwing away the money.
     

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