Helping a Norman Who is Academically Struggling
“Please recognize that Beverly Hills High School standards are much higher than they were when you were in high school.” BHHS Student
Parents frequently assume that school problems are caused by lack of effort, and that making teens study more will improve their performance. There is often much more to it. It is important to find out the root cause of your teenager’s academic issues.
COMMON PROBLEMS THAT INTERFERE WITH STUDENT SUCCESS
- Poor attendance or tardiness
- Classroom behavior problems, such as: talking in class, not participating
- Poor study habits
- Weak organizational skills
- Overriding teacher recommendations, resulting in improper class placement
- Being upset about something at home, at school, or with peers that is interfering with their concentration
- Low self-esteem and not believing that they can achieve
The purpose of the Pass/Fail Option is to encourage students to take more advanced academic courses or electives. The student has the option of having a grade of a “P” (pass) for credit only posted on the transcript instead of the final letter grade, provided that it is not an “F.” To learn more about the Pass/Fail program, please refer to the Norman Guide and/or talk to your school counselor.
HELP YOUR TEENS IMPROVE THEIR GRADES
Even when the amount of effort invested in schoolwork is deficient, the underlying cause for lack of success in school may be discouragement, rather than behavioral. Dialogue together is the most effective way to get teens thinking about strategies to solve their problems. Below are some suggestions to help your teen make academic improvements.
- Communicate with your teen. Ask him/her what he/she needs for improvements to be made and if they could use additional support. Some teens may not be able to articulate ideas; they may be overwhelmed and unable to come up with solutions. Let them know that you want to help them make improvements because you care.
- Review Google Classroom and contact your teen’s teachers to discuss any concerns or suggestions the teachers may have.
- Consult with your teen's school counselor when you have questions about any matter concerning their academic program or progress in school. School counselors are available before or after school, during nutrition and lunch, as well as by appointment. See counselor for a list of outside resource, tutors and information regarding credit recovery.
- Visit the library website for free tutoring services for your student. Several subjects have tutoring weekly with BHHS teachers. Your student should take advantage of these school supports.
- Read "Student Success Intervention Tips for Parents"
ADDITIONAL REASONS WHY STUDENTS MAY STRUGGLE WITH SCHOOL
Teenagers are not only under a lot of stress but they are also in the phase of life where they might develop learning disorders and mental health issues. Any of these issues can interfere with academic success. Below is a list created by Paradigm Treatment Center of additional challenges that may impact a teens academic success:
- Mental health disorders can affect classroom learning and social interactions, both of which are critical to the success of students. However, if appropriate services are put in place to support a young person’s mental health needs we can often maximize success and minimize negative impacts for students. Consult with BHHS Wellness Counselor to learn more about mental health support services provided through NormanAid Wellness Center.
- Learning Disabilities. Most learning disabilities are suspected and confirmed during the elementary school years, but teens with mild learning disabilities or excellent coping methods might not have been. The work gets more difficult and expectations rise during the high school years, so some children are able to succeed in elementary school even with learning disabilities only to find that once they get into the upper grades, the schoolwork seems impossible. A variety of processing disorders, vision issues (such as dyslexia) and other learning disabilities should be screened for during the teen years if academic problems are persistent. ADHD is another disorder that can affect teens and go undiagnosed for many years.
- Behavioral issues. Some teens have disorders such as oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and anger management issues. These can affect school success and should be treated before adulthood.
- Social anxiety. A teen who is avoiding school or feeling very anxious while in school due to social anxiety is not likely to have good grades. If your adolescent is reluctant to go to school, doesn’t have friends, or shows physical symptoms of stress when they have to speak in front of the class, they might have social anxiety.
- Depression. Depression can cause a teen to completely lose interest in not only school but also socializing, sports, extracurricular activities, and their part-time job. A teen who is isolating him- or herself in the bedroom, not paying attention to personal hygiene, and crying or showing signs of sadness for two weeks needs an evaluation for depression.
- Addiction. If your teen is using or abusing alcohol or drugs, they might have a tolerance or addiction to the substance. This often leads to failure in school. Addiction requires specialized care and may become a lifelong battle, so prompt treatment is necessary.
Taking your teen to their primary care physician is a good first step toward ruling out or discovering one or more of these teen academic problems. If a problem is found, you will likely be referred to a specialist of some sort. In addition, your teen might be eligible for special plans at school that will help them to succeed. These could include the IEP and the 504 plan. If you have already worked with teacher(s) and the counselor for assistance and you believe that additional supports are needed, ask your student's school counselor to set up a Student Success Team meeting.
STUDENT SUCCESS TEAM (SST)
Each school site has a Student Success Team (SST) who review concerns about individual students. The SST serves as a general education problem-solving process and is a forum to support classroom teachers in their effort to provide quality classroom experiences for all of their students. The SST is a general education process that is neither a function of special education nor an automatic process for referral and/or assessment for special education services.
WHEN SHOULD A PARENT REQUEST A STUDENTS SUCCESS TEAM MEETING (SST)
- Once a parent has made contact with a students’ teachers and school counselor, and the parent/student feels that additional supports are needed, the parent/student can ask the school counselor for an SST meeting. The counselor then contacts the school administrator to schedule a meeting.
- At the SST, the parent should bring any relevant information such as recent medical diagnosis, reports from outside therapists, doctors or support providers to share with the team if there is a health condition impacting a student’s school performance.
- The counselor will gather information from teachers about school progress and will share that data with the team at the meeting.
- The team will then recommend additional school supports for the student based on all information reviewed.
- Both the parent and student voice are critical to the success of this process. Please have your student attend the meeting to give input.
To qualify for Section 504 protections, the student must have a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activity.
1. Physical impairment means any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more body systems, such as neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genito-urinary, immune, hemic, lymphatic, skin, and endocrine.
2. Mental impairment means any mental or psychological disorder, such as intellectual disability, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disability.
3. Substantially limits major life activities means limiting a person's ability to perform functions, as compared to most people in the general population, such as caring for himself/herself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, writing, communicating, and working. Major life activities also includes major bodily functions such as functions of the immune system, special sense organs and skin, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, cardiovascular, endocrine, hemic, lymphatic, musculoskeletal, and reproductive functions, as well as the operation of an individual organ within a body system.
A parent/guardian, teacher, other school employee, or community agency may refer a student to their school counselor or Section 504 Coordinator for identification as a student with a disability under Section 504. The SST shall be convened to consider the referral is appropriate. This determination shall be based on a review of the student’s school records, including those in academic and nonacademic areas of the school program; consultation with the student’s teacher(s), other professionals, and the parent/guardian, as appropriate; and analysis of the student’s needs.
SPECIALIZED ACADEMIC INSTRUCTION
Students learn in a variety of ways and most of our students learn effectively in a traditional instructional setting. However, sometimes students may require additional assistance and support.
Instruction designed for students who require special education assistance is provided by a credentialed Special Education teacher as authorized on the student’s Individual Education Program (IEP). Specialized Academic Instruction focuses upon individual goals and objectives established for each student from their IEP. Learn more information about special education.
HOW DO I KNOW IF A STUDENT MAY NEED SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES?
Special education programs and services are provided to students with identified disabilities which adversely impact the students’ educational program. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines “children with disabilities” to mean children with intellectual disabilities, hearing impairments including deafness, speech or language impairments, visual impairments including blindness, emotional disturbance, orthopedic impairments, autism, traumatic brain injury, other health impairments or specific learning disabilities, and who by reason thereof, need special education and related services. Eligible students may have difficulties that interfere with his/her ability to go to school or to learn. These difficulties may be in one of these general areas:
- Speech and Language Development. Some students may have a very difficult time learning to speak clearly and/or understanding what is said to them.
- Vision Problems. Some students may have great difficulty seeing objects and/or printed words even though they may already be wearing glasses.
- Hearing Problems. Some students may have difficulty hearing and/or distinguishing sounds and voices, even with hearing aids.
- Physical Development. Some students may have trouble learning to walk, move or work with small objects.
- Academic Development. Some students may have great difficulty learning to read, write or do arithmetic. Young students may have trouble with pre-school skills such as learning shapes and colors.
- Thinking/Memory Skills. Some students may have more difficulty than others in remembering what they see or hear. As a result, it may be a challenge for them to solve problems in daily living or schoolwork.
- Attention/Perception Skills. Some students may have difficulty processing or understanding information. As a result, it may be hard for them to pay attention or follow directions.
- Social/Emotional Development. Some students may have trouble managing their feelings and/or behavior. They may find it very difficult to get along with others. It may be hard for them to make friends or to cope with changes in their lives.
- Living Skills. Some students may be challenged by day-to-day activities such as dressing, feeding themselves or taking care of their basic health and grooming needs.
- Other Health Conditions. Some students have serious or chronic medical conditions that may interfere with school attendance or learning.
WHEN SHOULD A PARENT REQUEST TESTING FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION?
- Special education services require a full school-based educational evaluation, including school testing, to see if a student qualifies for special education services in one of the 13 identified areas of suspected disabilities.
- Special education services are considered when a series of traditional school intervention supports, which may include a 504 plan, are not providing enough educational support for a student.
- If a parent is requesting testing for special education, an SST team will meet to review the request and will collaboratively determine what prior supports and interventions have occurred through the school district previously. After reviewing the information, the school team will respond in writing to the parent request for an assessment.
No matter what the reason is for your teens' academic problems, let them know that you are there for them. Work together to find the problem and the solution. Knowing that you are on their side will help your teen face whatever is standing between them and good grades.
Ready or Not: Preparing Our Kids to Thrive in an Uncertain and Rapidly Changing World