The Vision & Learning Connection
Does your son or daughter have difficulty completing standardized tests (or classroom tests) in the allotted time? Does s/he make simple mistakes such as accidentally selecting the wrong answer even when they know the correct answer?
Many parents are unpleasantly surprised by their child’s poor performance on standardized tests, especially when the child is a good student. When an otherwise good student receives disappointing test scores on the PSAT, SAT, or ACT, it deserves investigating the cause. One common cause that a good student might receive a disappointing score on standardized tests is that they are unable to complete the test in within the time limits. Often, parents seek out specialized ACT, SAT, and PSAT tutoring to increase their child’s test scores. While tutoring can be helpful, the first step should be a phone call to a developmental optometrist to determine if there is an undiagnosed vision or perception issue.
A developmental optometrist? But, my child does not need glasses. She has passed vision screenings at school and at the pediatrician’s office.
School vision screenings and vision screenings in the pediatrician’s office typically evaluate distance vision only, not vision that is required to read carefully and quickly. Even eye screenings that are a little more in-depth do not look at how the eyes are working together (eye teaming, eye tracking, and convergence issues). These vision issues can cause eye fatigue, slightly blurred vision, losing one’s place while reading, and slow reading speed. There are many vision conditions that can affect a student’s performance on standardized tests. Developmental optometrists are specialists in detecting and treating these conditions.
Not only are the ACT, SAT, and PSAT tests difficult to complete within the allotted time, they are printed in tiny font with small line spacing. In addition, test takers are required to “bubble in” their answers on an answer sheet, which requires shifting one’s vision and focus back and forth from test booklet to answer sheet. Even a seemingly minor vision issue can cause a breakdown in this process. This can cause a student to accidentally fill in the wrong bubble, even when they know the correct answer, and to have a slow reading speed. Add in even minor test anxiety and it’s easy to see how your child’s score can be negatively affected.
How can I find out what is causing my child to perform poorly on standardized tests?
Contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our developmental optometrists. The doctor will examine how your child’s eyes are working together, taking in, and processing information.
What should I expect during a Vision & Learning Evaluation?
A vision & learning evaluation is much more in-depth and extensive than a regular eye exam. The doctor and technician will will use specialized technology to examine your child’s eyes and how they are working. For example, they will have your child wear visagraph goggles while reading so that they can see exactly how your child’s eyes are tracking what she or he is reading.
What can we do to give my child the best chance at a higher score on the ACT, SAT, or PSAT?
A developmental optometrist can determine if the child’s issue is related to vision. If it is a vision issue, the treatment, depending on the condition, may be reading glasses or optometric vision therapy. In some cases, we may need to work with you and the testing organization to obtain certain test accommodations such as extended time or larger print.
If vision therapy is prescribed, it is conducted in our office (along with a little work at home). Vision therapy trains the eyes to work together to process information which increases processing and reading speed. Correcting a vision problem can help your child perform to their fullest potential. To read more about current research on optometric vision therapy, please visit http://www.covd.org/?page=research().
To schedule an appointment with one of our developmental optometrists, please call our office at 614-410-5018.