Low test scores vs. low achievement in class

Educational Specialist Carolyn McWilliams, MA, shares advice for parents on the best ways to help your child who is performing below his or her potential on tests in school
How To Help A Child Who Is Performing Below Potential In School
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Low test scores vs. low achievement in class

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What you need to do is take the test seriously. If your child is performing below the potential that you feel he or she has it is time to investigate. The first step is to always talk to the child's teacher. Is this the same performance that the teacher has seen in the classroom? If it is not then perhaps it is just an off day, and your child may have some test anxiety that will go away with increased practice. If the teacher is seeing this level of performance in the classroom it is time to intervene. To find out if your child has a learning disability or there is some kind of a processing issue, visual issue that is preventing them from doing well on a standardized test setting. That will have some effect on how your child will be placed in class, but more importantly it has to do with how your child is achieving and feeling about themselves. Any time you see a low score it is time to see what happened.

Educational Specialist Carolyn McWilliams, MA, shares advice for parents on the best ways to help your child who is performing below his or her potential on tests in school

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Expert Bio

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Carolyn McWilliams, MA

Educational Specialist

Carolyn is currently an educational therapist and educational consultant helping students, parents, and schools meet the challenges of gifted students with learning challenges through her offices in Santa Monica, California. Carolyn also does general consulting with schools on topics from curriculum development to teaching study skills to interpretation of student test scores.

Carolyn began her educational career in Santa Barbara, California, where she received her B.A. and M.A. and became a Ph.D. candidate in Educational Administration with an emphasis on Curriculum and Instruction. She served as a supervisor of student teachers and taught courses across the educational curriculum during her eight years at UCSB.

After completing her studies, Carolyn moved to Los Angeles where she served as the head of Adat Ari El Day School in Valley Village and as a consultant on issues of learning and instruction to Jewish day schools across the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Spectrum, as well as to elementary and secondary schools of all types. During this time she also served on the faculty of California State University at Northridge.

The parent of three highly gifted daughters of her own (one with learning challenges), throughout her career, Carolyn has designed innovative strategies, as well as unique programs to help gifted students achieve life success. She established the Johns Hopkins Center for Academically Talented Youth (CTY) Summer Commuter Program held at the University of California Los Angeles and served as parent liaison for the CTY to the press and larger community. She was the founder and head of Bridges Academy, which serves a population of twice-exceptional students in grades 6-12, from 1994-2003 (bridges.edu).

Carolyn has been a classroom teacher in both Goleta Union and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. She was LAUSD Teacher of the Year, was one of five finalists for California Teacher of the Year, and was given an Outstanding Educator Award by the Los Angeles Times. She has published curriculum and articles in the areas of special education, social studies, English, educational computing, ESL, multi-cultural education, study skills, and classroom organization. She regularly presents at conferences and schools on topics related to curriculum, instruction, classroom organization, gifted students, and special needs populations. 

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