How do you explain a strong student receiving a very low score?

The first step to understanding why a student scores lower than you expected is to go through your student's test question by question to see what kinds of mistakes the student made.

Viewing Student Test Questions will show you how to view each test question and the student's answer for a specific test. You can use the forward arrow at the top of the first test question to page through each test question. You can ask the data these questions:

  • Did the student skip many test questions?
  • Did the student answer some questions in a very short amount of time relative to the complexity of the task?
  • Did the student make mistakes that really surprise you given what you know of the student's skills?
  • Did the student have difficulty with a particular domain or set of standards that brought down her overall score?

Probably the surest method to unraveling the mystery of an unexpected test score is to sit down with the student and ask her to answer each question as you watch. You can ask her to explain why she choose the choice that she did. You can review with her the answer choice she provided during the actual test and ask her to explain her thinking.

In general there are four common causes of unexpectedly low test scores:

  1. The student was not engaged in the test, did not try her best or wanted to be finished very quickly.
  2. The test uncovered a specific domain or area of weakness that brought down the overall score.
  3. The student struggled with the computer interface and made mistakes related to poor computers skills and not related to poor math or reading skills.
  4. There was a technical problem during the test and the test questions did not display properly or function properly.
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