I agree with the counsellor’s suggestion. The learning trajectory of your daughter is not unusual among high school students. It is possible that her struggles are a result of some mild weakness(es) in processing skills, such as working memory, processing speed or executive function. When the deficits are not pervasive and the student has many strengths, they might not become apparent until high school or even later. It sounds like your daughter is a motivated and diligent student, so it is possible that she was able to compensate for her weaknesses throughout early school years with her hard work and other skills she has. In high school the students are expected to process larger amounts of information and to be able to access their knowledge in a fast-paced mode on the exams. The demands on students really change in nature and this is when some latent issues might come to the surface.
In my opinion, it is very important to understand the roots of your daughter’s struggles. Does she have troubles absorbing the new material at the conceptual level? Is there specific type of material that is hard for her? Or perhaps she gets the concepts but works at a slower pace than her peers and that makes her nervous on exams which, of course, slows her down even more. These questions can be sorted out through a comprehensive psycho-educational assessment. Now it’s a very good time to do it as accommodations can be put in place for next year and once she experienced more success her anxiety will dissipate. The assessment will also clarify her cognitive profile and the pattern of strengths and weaknesses and this information will be very helpful in making career decisions and choosing post-secondary education that is right for her.
Finally, whether or not she has learning deficits, it seems that your daughter is quite fearful of failure. I think it is important for her to work with a therapist to learn how to manage her anxiety.
Dr. Tali Shenfield, PhD, CPsych
Thanks for such a quick response. I will speak to the school counselor regarding psycho-educational assessment. Hopefully, we will be able to arrange one soon.