Are You Sure Luke Can’t Read?

Are You Sure Luke Can’t Read?

Are You Sure Luke Can’t Read?

Your child comes home with her or his report card, and you are surprised to see a low score on the reading section.

You have spent many hours since birth (sometimes before birth) reading to your child, talking about stories, and listening to your child read to you.  How can this be happening?

I have seen this many times.  One of the earliest students I had in my tutoring career, I will call him Luke, experienced this scenario.

I had been working with Luke for a couple of months.  The assessment showed no weakness in reading.  In fact, for a grade 6 student, he was scoring at the age 15+ range!  His reading skills were well above his current age/grade level.

When we talked about the texts or stories that we were reading, Luke had no problems with comprehension either.  His comprehension scores on the initial assessment bore this out as well.  While not as high as his reading scores, they were still well within the upper average range.

So why was his report card showing a very poor reading score along with comments that were not exactly sterling.

Here is why!

The reading score on the report card is a bit deceiving.  Often the grade is affected by what the student turns in – not actual reading but writing (or printing or typing if you like). 

Luke could read almost anything, and he understood most of what he was reading.  His issue was in proving it on paper.  He struggled to even start when an assignment was given.  He could easily read the text or story, but he had no clue when it came to answering questions in writing or – even worse- writing a paragraph or article based on the story.

His “reading” score was not really a reading score at all.

In fact, I would argue that his writing grade was probably too high while his reading score was far too low.

ScaredKid2020Do not panic.

It is never a great idea to panic about anything because that debilitates us from making wise decisions.

The goal is to discover precisely where the roadblocks are for any given student.  Unfortunately, report cards are often very blunt instruments.  They can be helpful, particularly the comments if they are genuine, but they simply cannot be everything to every student. 

I knew Luke did not have a reading issue per se.  We began looking at ways to help him get his thoughts on paper.  It was easy for him to tell me about the story and to provide details about character, plot, reasons, and so on. 

That was our starting point.  We used his strengths to overcome his weaknesses.  It was not an easy road, but it was a very successful one.  Over time, Luke learned how to make a small sketch plan.  He learned how to generate topic sentences that helped direct him in his writing.  We did not worry too much at first about sentence structure or punctuation.  These technical details can be attacked on the final draft (or even further down the road depending on the student). 

At first, Luke was very reluctant to write anything on paper.  It was as if he had a morbid fear of making his thoughts permanent.  We worked on the basic ideas first.  He began to see that once down on paper, he had material to work with.  He could add, change, and explore his thoughts in more detail now that he didn’t have to hold everything in his head.  Writing his ideas down actually opened up more doors. 

Luke did not turn into an amazing writer overnight, but he did begin to make changes.  Once he began to see positive results (though not his marks immediately), he was eager to put in more time and effort.

As his writing skills improved, his reading score began to soar.  Over time, he began to do better in almost all subjects.  Reading, comprehending, and writing skills help in any academic situation.

I am pleased to say that Luke graduated high school and has since graduated from an excellent University. 

If there is a lesson in this blog it would be to always look at the beginning.  Ask yourself where the core problem is and what specifically needs to be done to address it.  Of course, then you must follow up with the plan and concerted effort to address the issues.

If you would like a coach, don’t hesitate to get in touch.  As always, I offer free information meetings and consultations. 

Reading Score – Really?


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