21 answers

Working Below Grade Level

I have a second grader that maintains B's but is marked on her report card that she is "working below grade level." When we asked the teacher what that meant, she said that she has to read her the directions again, or give her one on one assistance. Now, silly me, I thought that was teaching.

Could anyone with experience in this area tell me what that has meant for your child and how you dealt with the situation.

Thanks

What can I do next?

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Hi B.,
I am C. ,, I Have a few learning difficulities myself , places like sylvin learning certers are a great help for what you daughter seems to need help for , plus they maybe able to help her learn how to read the instructions herseld so she can understand them , Just Please support her , as I can see you are doing ,.We discovered my learning disability when I was in the 5th grade , my parents sent me to a school that stricly focused on children that needed extra help. I thrived there and that was the best thing in the world for me . You can heave her privately tested also . I would love to know how this all unfolds ,,,, and by the way that is a little nuts that the teacher is so unforgiving to offer a little extra help ... sad really

C.

2 moms found this helpful

When I was her age I would have loved a B average, I always struggled with grades until college. I went through all sorts of silly tests and ended up taking atterol for no reason at all. They told me I had ADD and thought that was the best thing for me. It didnt help and made me really hate my mother for having to give it to me. A "B" average does not mean a learning diablilty...what do you want from a child?? As long as she is happy and you are too, I dont think you should worry unless she starts getting worse.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

Hi B.,
I am C. ,, I Have a few learning difficulities myself , places like sylvin learning certers are a great help for what you daughter seems to need help for , plus they maybe able to help her learn how to read the instructions herseld so she can understand them , Just Please support her , as I can see you are doing ,.We discovered my learning disability when I was in the 5th grade , my parents sent me to a school that stricly focused on children that needed extra help. I thrived there and that was the best thing in the world for me . You can heave her privately tested also . I would love to know how this all unfolds ,,,, and by the way that is a little nuts that the teacher is so unforgiving to offer a little extra help ... sad really

C.

2 moms found this helpful

I think she should have explained it better to you. This far into the school year, she should be reading on a level around about 2.7 or so, as in 2nd year, 7th month. The directions on the worksheets for second graders are generally written on grade level, so if the teacher is having to read the directions to her, that is one sign that she is struggling. Take a look a the worksheets she brings home and ask her to read you the directions. After a teacher teaches a lesson, 2nd graders should be able to do a worksheet and follow directions like "circle the best answer" or "underline the main idea". I would ask to see what grade level she is reading on. Her teacher should be doing continuous "testing" with all of her students, and many schools use computer programs that spit back out a range that the student is reading, from the level they can comfortably read on their own through a level that is challenging but they can still read with some comprehension. For example, this time of the school year, an "average" second grader would have a range like 2.5-2.9. They have to legally put reading below grade level on paperwork like report cards so parents understand that they are getting good grades based on reading at their own comfort level, not reading at the level where they "should" be. Third grade is a HUGE leap from second, so you're smart to be looking for a tutor before she falls too far behind

1 mom found this helpful

She has b's but is below average? WTH, personaly I think the teacher dosen't want to help and do her job. I would find another class or school. Just my 2 cents.

1 mom found this helpful

I have homeschooled off and on with 5 of my children for 14 years. Some of the years one may have gone to school, depending on circumstances. This year I sent the last 3 (others are grown) to school. I worked and communicated with the teachers, to no avail. My kids are normal and average for the most part. I found that of the teachers my 6th grader had, most treated him like he was in college. Take notes from the board and then go home and do the lesson, or open your book and begin working. There was no instruction. He changed classes like in Jr High. Very few of the teachers cared or offered any help. I found pretty mucht the same thing with my 4th grader. I really see a trend in schools these days that reflect the attitude that teachers expect kids to be able to know what to do before and instruction is given. If they don't, then something is wrong iwth them, not the teacher.

My advice would be to seek and independant evaluation from a teacher possible from a private school. That is waht a lot of homschoolers do to make sure their kids are on track.

I don't believe every kid has ADHD just because they don't understand the first time something is explained. Although this is the trend for schools seems to be that they will want the majority on meds so that their job is made easier for them. There are 3 different types of learning styles. Cynthia Tobias has some excellent books on this subject that may be very helpful to you. One of my children is a hands-on learner. He has an extremely hard time retaining info by rote memory. He and my other children with ADD thrive in the homeschool environment but seem to get lost in a classroom filled with interruptions and behavior issues.

I hope this info wil be helpful to you. God Bless! C.

1 mom found this helpful

B.,

My daughter is in the third grade, and she too is having a difficult time with reading comprehension. She maintains A's and B's, but she is considered "below grade level." She's is given tests thru out the year on reading comprehension and scores low. She also has to have her work explained to her more than once. Her teacher explained to me that what she is reading is just not clicking in her brain, and she wants to test her for a learning disability.

I understand my daughters frustration, because I too, need directions explained to me more than once, sometimes 3 times before it "clicks."

I want my daughter tested for learning disabilities, because I know she struggles in certain aspect's of learning, and if she is approved she will qualify by law to have someone come in the classroom and give her one on one assistance and her test are not timed, and she can be given test in a quiet area.

I have also enlisted the help of an outside tutoring company that is just wonderful. They consulted with her teacher to get incite on her problem area's and she had her first session Friday, and she already feels much more confident. The tutor is working with her on learning strategies and how to eliminate answers to pick the one that makes sense, it is a much different approach that just seems to make sense to my daughter and it just "clicks."

I will be using the tutor twice a week until fcat, and then just once a week to help so she does not have to struggle like she has been. You really do have to make sure your children do not get left behind in school and fall thru the cracks, Because it really affects their self confidence level. I saw the signs early on, and thought...she's just going to have to work a little harder than most of her peers, and yes she will, but, I realizied I'm going to have to work a little harder than some moms as well and invest alot of time with her. I now have her do her homework with me and work her brain with flash cards. It really makes the difference. She is a very bright little girl and very capable of accomplishing anything. she just needs a little extra help to realize it.

Hope this helps.

K.

1 mom found this helpful

I think the post below mine is right on. I have been training to become a teacher and the reading levels were discussed in class. It was described just as the other post said.

As for getting high grades, yet still reading below grade level, I don't think that's all that far fetched. All people have strengths and weaknesses, and just because a child is weak in reading doesn't mean grades will be low. For example, I have memory and organization problems which could make schoolwork very difficult. I work very hard to compensate by going over info repeatedly, working much longer then others have to, using methods that help me retain info, highlighting and going over important info again, studying a lot, etc. By compensating I am able to keep very high grades in spite of my problem areas, but that doesn't mean those problems should not be attended to.

Do keep in mind that there are other reasons for inability to understand instructions, other than just reading. That can be one issue; there can also be issues with processing, comprehension, etc. I would ask the teacher what her reading level is, how far behind she is. If it's not that bad I would just spend some extra time at home working with her. Choose books that interest her and are a little above her reading level. If her reading levels are pretty low I would ask about testing her again, and if they don't agree get it done privately. As another person mentioned it is better to try to catch her up early. It can be very hard on children seeing they are far behind all the others.

I am reading a book right now called 'Reading David.' It's about a boy with dyslexia and all that him and his mom go thru in dealing with the many issues that exist with this learning disability. It's written by his mother, and has some portions written in the child’s view. It is very informative, and really shines light on some of the problems that can happen with the child, parent, teachers, schools, testing, getting help, etc. Anyway, I would recommend this book, especially to anyone dealing with children with learning disabilities (not just dyslexia.)

1 mom found this helpful

dont get me started. the process of teaching to SOME teachers has apparently become annoying. There are great ones out there, but you are going to have to fight for whatever it is she needs. not to sound discouraging, but you have to be firm and stay strong on her defense. In your world, she IS the most important student in that room, and if shes not getting what she deserves, let someone else know. Sorry, dont mean to sound negative, buut I had to do it, and guess what? It worked! You may think about switching to a charter school. My kids NOW go to a private one, NOT a city owned, and the curriculum is UNBELIEVEABLE! Good luck sweetie.

1 mom found this helpful

Hello! I am a mother of 2 boys that both have stuggled with reading. My oldest who is now an honor roll student in 6th grade, really struggled in third grade. We had a heck of a time during FCAT time. If 3rd graders don't pass the reading portion of the FCAT, they can't move to 4th grade. Being that your child is receiving B's that's for what level she is reading on, not what she should be reading at. My son's school had after school tutoring that allowed him some more individualized reading with the teacher, and that really helped. Plus reading every night at home for 15-20 minutes a day, on a subject or something really interesting to him or her, really helps too. I am going through the reading problems again with my 2nd grader now.. Best of Luck... Just keep in contact with the school and counselors as much as you possible can, that will make any questions and requests a lot easier to deal with..

1 mom found this helpful

When I was her age I would have loved a B average, I always struggled with grades until college. I went through all sorts of silly tests and ended up taking atterol for no reason at all. They told me I had ADD and thought that was the best thing for me. It didnt help and made me really hate my mother for having to give it to me. A "B" average does not mean a learning diablilty...what do you want from a child?? As long as she is happy and you are too, I dont think you should worry unless she starts getting worse.

1 mom found this helpful

I have had a similar situation. My son was an A & B student but was told he needed a tutor because he didn't read as fast they thought he should. None of this was ever mentioned in the second grade. We spent the whole third grade going to a tutor twice a week and worrying if he was going to pass the FCAT and go on to the fourth grade. When it came time for the FCAT, he blew it out of the water. I believe it is an issue with the teacher. When he went on the fourth grade and excelled under a different teacher. I don't have to fight with him to go to school anymore. Hang in there.

1 mom found this helpful

Well I have been reading this book called The five Love Languages of Children, and they had a stroy in there sounding like your little girl. I just want to know have y'all own lifestyle had changed this year? I mean like your work are your husbands work hours change are something like that? See what I think it is your girl Love language is quality time. See its the little thangs you do with her like did you used to spend more time with her bye yourself and the same with your husband, and like now its not like that cause that could be it. If you can meet his need for love, I thik there is a good chance you will see a change in her behavior." I hope that, that help. If you want to get that book that's a really good book. The Author is Gary Chapman, Ph.D Ross Campbell, M.D

I understand you must be frustrated, however your post seems to have been an excuse for "teacher-bashing." Teaching is a job that has a 20:1 ratio -- that's a factor in the amount of individual attention any student can receive. You are your daughter's first and life-long teacher and her advocate.
I agree with the advice to set up a meeting. Go in and find out exactly what level your daughter is reading at (SRI scores) and find out suggestions for remediation. Tutoring from an outside source may be an option. Otherwise, additional suggestions may be given on what you can do to support the teacher and your daughter during the day. If your daughter is working below grade level now, she would benefit from anything extra in order to help her be more successful with FCAT.
It's time to focus on being pro-active for your daughter's sake, and she will eventually benefit from the extra time invested in her.
Good luck.

Dear B.,
I am a mother of two as well as a professional who works with children w/ a range of disabilities.
What u write is very consistent with what i hear from so many parents; parents are told that their child is working below grade level but teachers don't really explain what that means in a meaningful way to parents; you should persist w/ teacher how she defines that and in what specific areas and how is she determining that etc. [testing, observation, comparing other peers] that is part of her job; if you are not satisfied you go to the principal for more input and understanding, all of this done in a non adversial way.
Maybe she is just catching on a bit more slowly...how old is she? is she far younger in the class? what services are available at the building level to bring her up a bit? tht should be asked if you learn she is behind a bit. If she is much younger, say a summer birthday should u consider holding he back? all good questions.
the seed has been planted by the teacher; to help you it may be worth getting an independent evaluator. If it shows she is behind w/ learning or has learing differences, then it will help you w/ what to do. You certainly don't want to wake up a year or two regretting not doing everything.
she may be getting B's as u say but htat does not mean that as the work progresses, how she learns and how she is now compensating will not be as effective Furthermore getting her evaluated will give u piece of mind which is invaluable.
what public school district are you in? go to the special ed dept and ask for the form that requests testing. Also as u are doing, speak to your child's peed and request a referral for a psychologist [a really good one];
my understanding of the law is if you suspect your child has learnig issues, the school district is obligated to test her: psychological, educational and speech and language depending on her presenting needs.
where do you live? I know lots of ppl up in NY and in FL if by chance you are in either.
J.
PS: check out www.schwablearning.org and www.allkindsofminds.org: two websites that educate parents about learning in a great way, appropriate developmental milestones by ages, learning milestones etc

B.,

I hate to have to say this, but it's the teacher's J.O.B. to explain things to your child. How is she supposed to know just from trying to read it off the paper, what the directions really mean, everyone needs help at first. You have to teach a baby to talk...right?

If you're child is bringing home B's, but the teacher is claiming that it's only because she has to explain everything to her, then I would ask the teacher to explain it once, and then if you daughter asks again for an explaination, the teacher needs to ask her what she thinks the directions are saying for her to do, there's only one way to find out if she really needs them re-read of if she is wanting some attention or whatever the case is. She sounds like a great kid and I hope everything works out with this situation

Hi,
Ask her teacher if "below grade level" means her DIBELS scores. DIBELS is a test they are supposed to administer almost every nine weeks that checks out reading fluency, phonemic awareness and such. Your teacher needs to be far more open with you about your child's progress. I am currently doing my internship as a teacher and when I read about your experience I was quite shocked. If they refuse to test your daughter and refuse to help you understand what they mean then you need to take it to the next level and speak with an administrator. The best thing you can do for her is read with her every day. If she can't read the directions in second grade going into third grade she will struggle, especially with FCAT. They need to be more specific with you, especially since it sounds like she might try to have her held back.

I don't know if it can help, It did in my case
"When Listening Comes Alive: A Guide to Effective Learning and Communication" By Paul Madaule.
There's also the Crossroads- A program in Longwood that we have found to be very helpful with patients. They do brain mapping and neurofeedback therapy to rewire the adaptive brain for better focus, concentration, etc. “Brain mapping is an FDA approved procedure that records electrical activity within the brain. By scientifically identifying the areas of the brain with lower function or delayed processing, and following The CrossRoads program, the brain is balanced to high functioning levels without the use of medication.
Who could use brain mapping? Any person of any age who has had brain trauma, ADD/ADHD, memory issues, depression, learning disability, auditory processing, speech and language issues, etc. The CrossRoads Center develops peak performance for athletes and others wanting to gain their full potential in focus, memory, decision making and other areas.”

Good luck

I would:

1) make an appointment w/ the school counselor

2) at that meeting (or when you set up that mtg) make a time to then meet w/ the counselor & the teacher- can be right after just mtg alone w/ counselor or, at a later date

the counselor should do this. if s/he will not, then see the Assistant Principal (counselor works closely w/ APs...)

3) get a tutor- the mtgs should provide you with what you want the tutor to focus on

4) find out what STRENGHTHS your child has :-)
and ask if there is a significant discrepancy between her strengths & weaknesses...this is the only way the 'system' will consider testing...

i have a 15 year old daughter that was the same way. she was tested in oklahoma in the 3rd grade they were really good with following her iep guide lines. when we moved to florida when she was in the 5th grade that all changed. she was falling behind, they were not follow her iep here. i finnaly took her out when she was in the 7th. now she is home schooled and doing really good. florida schools are the worse. i would make them test her. if you want it they have to do it. good luck

I read your question and would like to respond as a teacher who now works privately with students. I taught children with special needs and I completely agree with you that teaching should include teaching the individual students in your classroom, not the class as a whole. However, many teachers in regular ed do not know how to do that. I currently work with a few students who need that extra support in order to succeed in the classroom as their teacher cannot or will not provide what they need. So - as a mom (which I am as well) I would also be frustrated and I advise you to see if the school has a resource teacher who can fill in the gaps for your child. Maybe they have a support teacher who can help. If not - then I would probably look into a tutor as you don't want your child to fall behind, especially in 2nd grade when they still teach skills that are necessary for 3rd grade and beyond. If I can be of further assistance please do not hesitate to write.
Good luck.

I am a fourth grade teacher in the public school system. For me when a child is marked below grade level it means that either one: scored below grade level on the FCAT diagnostic tests given in the fall and winter. That would be a score of 1 or 2. Or 2, if a child constantly fails math tests and has to be retaught and tested again, or for reading scores low on SRI (a reading test) and/or FCAT again.

I don't know exactly how it works in second grade. They do not take the FCAT tests yet. But they will in third. They do however take SRI in PBC.

Yes, teaching is reviewing and helping and retesting. However, if a student needs this ALL the time then they are working below grade level.

As a teacher I do NOT like the FCAT and how it is used. But unfortunetly at this point we all have no choice.

If you want supplemental help on the internet go the the PBCSB web site at www.palmbeach.k12.fl.us then go to Learning tools on the left and have your daughter go on Riverdeep and/or brainpop. They are wonderful learning tool. They have reading and math. I put my 3 1/2 year old on them all the time.

I will help you with any questions you have. if you have any more.

A couple of things to think about: is your daughter tired and zoning out in class thus missing the teacher explaining the task? Is she distracted by posters, plants, windows...due to the location of her desk? She may completely tune out because she's overwhelmed at the task at hand. As for reading at home, if you have her read really simple books--like books for infants--she will be able to read them comfortably and feel a sense of 'success.' Even though they are "easy" books they will help her read and will be fun for her rather than always a struggle. You're right about her possibly needing someone else to help her--she associates fun and play with her parents and struggling/hardwork with her teacher. A third-party person may be able to get through to her and help diagnose the underlying problem. Good luck!

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