Monday, January 28, 2013

A new year, a new start (and silly mistakes)

It's been a while since my last Gifted Exchange post (OK, more than 6 weeks). We'll call it a long holiday break, and I'll try to dive back in.

Today's topic: small mistakes on assessments, and the outsized impact they can have. Many parents of gifted kids can sympathize with this problem. A child has moved far ahead in math on his own, and zones out during class. He makes some small mistakes on a test on grade level material because he hasn't been studying it. But then the take away is, well, how can he be advanced? See, he gets Bs on tests!

How should a parent address this? Is it worth encouraging a child to really pay attention during tests? To spend time studying what the child already knows? How should one explain this? (Yes, we know you know how to do this, but other people at your school don't spend as much time with you and don't know it?) How does one convey that a child is doing more advanced work at home?

I'm curious how parents have dealt with the problem of small mistakes.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

My son had the problem of making mistakes because his brain was moving too far ahead of his hands and then auto-corrected when he looked over his work. I wonder how common that is for gifted children in general.

Anonymous said...

This is something we work through all the time. It seems you have to address it because it has a snowball effect and suddenly your kid is getting less than even Bs and I'm getting phone calls/e-mails from the school about it. I ask my son to use the time he has after finishing his test to go over it again and double check his work so that the grade he earns reflects that he knows the material. I don't make him spend time studying material that he already knows. We've had numerous discussions about this and I've explained to him (from an early age) that a lot of life is about playing the game and the game involves doing the work that is assigned, correctly, the first time, so that you can then have time to do what you want to do, not the other way around. We all have to do it. I've explained to him that, as much as it shouldn't matter to his teacher, he is a lot more likely to get the challenge work he needs, if his teacher doesn't perceive him as a problem child who doesn't live up to his potential. To be fair though, I also have discussions with his teacher where I try to get her to see that he would be far more likely to live up to his potential and be less of a problem child if he was actually challenged. It is a yearly struggle that certainly accounts for my ever increasing number of gray hairs. We have had some difficult years. I wish I had the answer to make it better for him and the teacher because I'm sure it's no picnic for them either.

Nother Barb said...

One always hopes that the teacher recognizes what's going on, that he or she is paying attention to each child in the class before, during, and after the test, or that the assessors are using their hearts and heads as well as their answer keys. That's why I tell my children to "show their work", because gifted or no, you could get the right answer in the wrong way (a way that wouldn't work with different data); or the wrong answer in the right way (usually an error in lining up numbers, for my one son); or simply a very cool way of solving a problem. Of course, with a kid who intuits or "just knows" the right answer, this advice is lost on them.

Where simple mistakes CAN make a difference is on tests graded and assessed by machine. My 6th grader scored 0, that's zero, on a 2-question math portion of the state test, scored 3 years above grade level on a Measure of Academic Progress (although his MAP was lower than the year before), and got 25 on the math portion of the ACT, 80th percentile of high school juniors, all in one year. If he'd had that state assessment before he registered for the ACT through a talent search, well, the talent search wouldn't have offered it to him.

Laura Vanderkam said...

Yes, there are many larger issues inherent in this problem. First, whether simple tests measure what they intend to measure. Second, how much people rely on tests when they don't know a child that well. Third, the idea of "playing the game." I imagine this is what drives a lot of parents of gifted kids toward homeschooling. While in theory we all have to learn to play the game for life in the working world later on, maybe not -- one reason I like self-employment :)

Calee said...

I think it's still very important to figure out how to teach the playing of the game. My husband was utterly bored throughout school and made simple mistakes and simply wouldn't turn in homework. His parents told him he needed to either get Bs or pay for his private school. My husband got a job at McDonalds and paid the tuition. He's still a tremendously hard worker put pretty horrible at paperwork. Getting all of the forms together for mortgages, etc falls to me, and its not my strong suit. But what I can tell is that his parents still rail against "the system" instead of encouraging using it to one's advantage.

I was continually guilty of these types of mistakes in school and I see my daughter heading down the same track. We're trying to show her the real world consequences of little mistakes--when there's a typo we have to order a new proof and production schedules get delayed--that sort of thing.

DonnaMusic said...

What I run into is that my DD, when she gets to easier work, assumes that she must be missing something because it's not hard enough. So, she goes into a tailspin, checking and rechecking, getting more and more anxious, when it really IS the case that the first answer she saw without even having to think twice was the actual answer. About half the time she either psychs herself into getting the question wrong, or ends up (if it's timed) running out of time. I seriously wouldn't be surprised to see her score better on EXPLORE than on the silly, stupid state test!

Jen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.