Month: March 2016

“My IQ is in the ‘Not-Good-Enough-Zone'” – Still Need Help!

Those of you have read my blogs or the books know that there are certain aspects of this business (e.g., the over use of worksheets, lengthy IEPs that really aren’t individual, the way writing is taught, the rapid “diagnosing of ADHD, calling dyslexia a medical condition that only doctors can diagnose) that continually get under my skin no matter how much mindful meditating I do to work on reducing my “GQ (i.e., Grumpiness Index).”

One that raise my GQ off the charts is when I see kids struggling but not get services because their IQ is in the “Not-Good-Enough-Zone,” that is the dreaded portion of the bell-shaped curve, the low average range (between the 10 – 24th % iles).
To illustrate why my GQ rises with this issue, let’s look at two different children:

Child A, a seven year old second grader, Zachary, is below average in reading (15%ile in word reading skills and oral reading fluency). Zach obtained an IQ of 107 (68th percentile, but still in the average range). In addition, the school assessed Zach with a bunch of subtests that assessed his “phonological processing,” all of which clustered around the 20th percentile.

In short, Zach was struggling and he needed a lot of support and remediation. Zach was found to be eligible for special education services and started receiving small group remedial instruction.

Child B, Cameron, age 7, a classmate of Zachary’s, is in the exact same level of reading as Zachary (16th % ile). In contrast, though, Cameron received an IQ of 87 (the “Not-Good-Enough Zone”). With similar phonological processing scores to Zachary, she was clearly struggling across the board.

In spite of this, Cameron was found ineligible for any remedial services.

A closer look at Cameron’s IQ profile showed that she demonstrated above average functioning in nonverbal intelligence. Compromised by weaknesses in active working memory, processing speed and language functioning, Cameron’s FSIQ was compromised. The score of 87 did not represent her legitimate ability or potential.

If I had my way (which I almost never do), the FSIQ would be secondary, essentially ignored in a situation like Cameron’s, demonstrating at least average or above average potential in one major domain of cognitive ability.

Takeaway Point
My GQ is running high.

I need to meditate more.

“Evidenced Based?” What about unmotivating?

As a psychologist specializing in dyslexia and learning disabilities, I have always valued and embraced reading instruction that has been referred to as “bottom-up” (skills based) for teaching struggling kids how to decode and read more fluently. Over the years I have seen so many reading struggling kids benefit from these approaches.

However, please understand this, decoding instruction should not be confused with literature instruction. “Reading” instruction is much more involved utilizing rich, imaginative literature and interesting non-fiction to generate thinking and to stimulate the imagination.

What is being passed off as literature within the typical worksheets approved as “evidenced based” within Common Core curriculum is having the opposite effect of stimulating imagination and creativity, at least from the kids that I interact with on a regular basis.

Not only is the material stultifying but increasingly in order to stay within “research-supported” fidelity of a given program, teachers are being asked to cut back on diverging from the script and to not use their personalities.

There was a time in the “way-back machine” when teachers taught genuine literature and poetry to children using their own personal enthusiasm as a way of trying to ignite passion in children to connect with the literature.

There was creativity in the process of teaching. Passion and love of literature, character or theme were all part of the interactive educational process. Worksheets were supplemental, if used at all. They were not the primary vehicle as they seem to be today.

Schools should rightfully look to the research evidence to help guide what type of instruction is the most effective with different types of children. But removing the teacher’s personality, joy and enthusiasm will lead to boredom and disconnection. Further, literature presented through dense worksheets leads to uninspired children who learn to detest reading. (Keep in mind that to the average kid reading is already perceived pretty negatively, compared to spending time on something like Youtube or playing video games. I am afraid that misguided “research supported” methods are not helping counter this perception any.)

Takeaway Point:
Teaching fabricated “literature” robotically scripted with no sign of personal passion will lead to legions of bored faces detesting the reading process. Yet, such approaches are “evidenced-based.”

Good teaching is an art that involves many intangibles. How does one quantify and measure enthusiasm? Love of literature and poetry? Connecting the disconnected?

You don’t.

There are some things that you cannot measure.

The Micromanaging of Childhood

It’s an admirable goal that parents want to be kept informed of their child’s academic and behavioral progress.  In the “Way-Back Machine” before modern technology (yes, that time did exist ), parents were periodically informed about how their child was doing in school by different means, such as notes being sent home to parents or other ways of communicating. 

If there were a big concern, parents were called in to discuss the matter.

Recently, I learned of a whole new way for parents to be informed of their child’s progress.  Through an app (  on the teacher’s phone, she enters data about a child throughout the day that shows up on the parent’s phone.  In real time, the parents are updated whether their child is performing on task, completing his work, getting along with others, that sort of thing.  Detailed graphs arrive through the day along with daily and weekly summaries.

I don’t know about you, but looking back on it I shudder to think about my parents getting constant real-time streaming of my minute-to-minute functioning in school.  My life would have been an ongoing nightmare of parent over-involvement.

Really, the last thing I needed or wanted was my parents knowing every behavior that I committed throughout the day.  Even if I did do the momentary right thing like raise my hand properly or complete a task, did I really need my parents knowing about it?  Did I really need them praising me for everything?  

I could appreciate the value of knowing about general trends over time, but every hour????  (I could hear my mother calling my father, “Oh, no!!! He is acting bored in science class and not participating. You need to speak to him,” or “He teased someone on line and showed bad citizenship.”)  Egad.

I could be wrong (and often am), but It just strikes me as one more example of adult over-steerage in a child’s life – one more example of micromanaging childhood.

Glad I’m not a kid.  I would have gotten technologically cattle prodded throughout the day and I don’t think I would have been better off for it.


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