By Joyce Kubik, President ACO
The topic of students with ADHD taking standardized tests came up in conversation last week while I was with my family on a small island off Lake Erie – one of the last places I would expect to end up talking about ADHD to total strangers. But that day the family at the table next to me was talking about ADHD and how their son was already anxious about taking the standardized tests. Before I knew it (and prompted by a family member at my own table), I was involved in this conversation. A few days later, in my office, this question came up again.
In both conversations, the parents informed me that in their schools everyone must take standardized testing. I actually couldn’t help them much, as I am not a legal expert, but researching this question later, I came across two things I found interesting. First, there are just 5 states that did not adopt standardized testing and second, students with ADHD are disadvantaged when it comes to scoring well on standardized tests. Here’s something I found on eHow:
According to research led by Richard M. Scheffler at the University of California at Berkeley and published in the May 2009 edition of the Pediatrics journal, students with ADHD who take ADHD medication score higher on standardized tests than students with ADHD who do not take medication to reduce symptoms of ADHD. However, even with medication the students with ADHD still tend to score lower than students without ADHD.
I had a personal experience with this when I witnessed one 4th grader read a book to me that was above his grade level, and he did very well. Despite this child’s demonstrable ability to read, and to read above grade level, because the test was the only measure accepted by his school, and because this student cannot perform under test conditions, this child did not move on to the next grade because he failed not only the standardized test, but the reading. This must have been devastating to this poor child. And totally unnecessary.
I find it heartbreaking every time I hear a story like the above, or a student talk about how dumb they are because they scored the lowest on a test. There is an emotional toll this takes on many of our clients and their willingness to work hard and continue learning. It holds students back. And we all know that these tests do not fairly measure our clients’ intellect, skills, or knowledge.
Too many students are suffering unnecessarily. The school year is starting and I encourage all coaches who work with students to do all you can to advocate for them in their schools. I also encourage you to read this month’s research brief on Students with ADHD and Test Anxiety by Tamara Rosier, ACO’s Research Committee Chair, where you will find some ideas on how to help these students cope and perform better.
Until next time . . .