“Todd” is a gifted student with declining grades

"Todd"“Todd” – A “gifted and talented” elementary school student who is unable to maintain his high level of academic achievement in middle school

Situation: Although Todd was considered “gifted” early in elementary school, he is currently failing middle school English. He previously was in the top reading and math groups and always found homework to be a breeze.

Now in the seventh grade, Todd finds himself in a different situation. As he began middle school, he was placed in gifted math and language arts classes; however, he was recently moved into grade-level classes when his grades dropped. Notably, the change in his schedule has not improved his grades.

Currently, Todd “forgets” to bring home his books, becomes angry when his parents ask about his homework, and refuses to read at home. His parents turned to the school team for some help, but the response has been that Todd is a bright boy and “passing” (getting C’s in grade-level classes). According to the school, Todd does not need any special services or accommodations.

Key Factors:

  • Todd hasn’t shown the same high-level performance in middle school as he had in elementary school; and he “forgets” to bring home his school books.
  • At home, Todd is becoming angry and uncooperative about doing school work.
  • His parents don’t share the school’s satisfaction with his C-average “passing” grades.

So what’s the problem? Although his parents know Todd could do better, they don’t know what the problem is nor how to help him.

Resolution: Through a comprehensive psycho-educational testing battery, SS&A diagnosed Todd as a GT/LD student with a Reading Disability. He’s very bright, yet has trouble distinguishing basic phonemes and has a poor visual memory for letters and numbers. When Todd sees a word on a page, he doesn’t read it fluently, no matter how many times he has seen it before. Throughout elementary school, Todd used his good memory for information presented in class and his strong reasoning skills to “fill-in” the meaning when he didn’t understand the content. In middle school, it’s not so simple, because the material is more complex and expectations are higher.

KSA helped Todd and his parents by:

  • Advocating for Todd and his parents at school meetings.
  • Recommending that Todd be enrolled in accelerated classes again.
  • Advising his parents how to get special accommodations at school.
  • Providing referrals to specialists who could help Todd improve his reading.