Possible Effect of Emotional State on Terra Nova Scores
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
In first grade, on the Terra Nova, my daughter scored 82
percentile in reading, 76 in language arts, and 96 in math.
In second grade, her school said they were pleased with the
scores and asked her to stay after school 1 hour twice a
week to study for the Terra Nova. They told us they hoped to
move her from "border line above average" to "clearly above
average." My daughter did this for 5 months.
We suspected this was done to try to make the school look
good. But we agreed because we hoped she might learn
something with the extra study and attention.
After 5 months of extra work, her second grade Terra Nova
scores were 90 percentile in reading, 42 percentile in
language arts, and 58 percentile in math.
We were quite disappointed, primarily because my daughter
did all these extra work and it showed no results. I felt
bad for her. When I asked her about it, she said she was
thinking about my mother, who died about 1 year before the
exam. She also said she felt like she learned things when
she stayed after school. So I felt better when she said
Then we received a letter from the school saying they wanted
to put her in remedial classes because her Terra Nova scores
were so low. So after 5 months of extra study, we have gone
from her school being very please with her scores to them
wanting to put her in remedial classes.
I have had discussions with the principal. We agreed she
would not go in the remedial classes unless a teacher worked
with her for a couple months and said she needed it.
What should I make of this and what should I do now? My wife
thinks she might have skipped a line in answering the
questions. The principal suggested the counsellor talk with
her to see if she is having a problem dealing with my
A: It is quite strange that
after 5 months of extra work, there was some increase on
reading, but a big drop in language arts and math. Something
just does not seem right here.
Firstly you need to get a very clear interpretation on her
scores (by having a break down) and looking for her weak
areas. You would also need to look into the Terra Nova prep
class that she had for the 5 months. Does it really help? Is
she really doing good work in that hour? The school is
accountable for this, at least to help you understand the
reason for her low scores. Ask the teacher in charge if she
showed any emotions during the prep class or if she had been
slacking. Within 2 months of the class, the teacher should
have noticed if she was behaving differently towards the
lessons. They should have warned you if she was not
Of course, there is a strong possibility that she was
affected by the loss of her grandmother. At her age, she was
probably not able to cope with the pain and that may have
affected her performance. It would be good if your wife and
you could try to get her talking on this subject. If she is
still affected badly after a year, she may need professional
help and the school counselor may be a good start. It does
not look like a good plan to put her in remedial class
without really finding out where what went wrong. So let a
teacher work with her for sometime to see if she really
needs it. At the same time, you may want to frequently check
how the teacher is helping her.
On your part, some help from home would be very good. Take
time to help her with her work, enriching her interest areas
and working on her weaknesses. Help from all sides would
surely ensure a better educational plan for her. Good luck!