This form of underachievement in school is damaging because it affects students' self-esteem, can lead to school failure and keep students from reaching their full potential in school and later in life. Learn about underachievement among students with learning disabilities, its signs, causes, and what you can do about it.
1. Academic Underachievement - What is Underachievement in LD Students?Underachievement among children with learning disabilities occurs when they do not perform to their potential in areas where they are not disabled. For example, an underachieving student may have a diagnosed learning disability in reading. His math achievement assessment might show his skills should be on par with peers, but he is failing the subject.
2. Signs of Underachievement in Students with Learning DisabilitiesCommon signs of academic underachievement in students with learning disabilities may include:
- Failure to complete or turn in homework in a class that does not involve the student's disability;
- Lack of motivation or disinterest in school;
- Tendency to make excuses for school failure and refusal to accept blame or responsibility for his own achievement;
- May daydream or socialize too much, make school work the lowest priority;
- Falling grades, taking no satisfaction or pride in school work;
- Seeing herself as having no chance to succeed or seems to believe she is already defeated, so why try?
3. Knowing When School Underachievement is a Problem for Students With LDsStudents with learning disabilities, like everyone else, may not do their best work 100% of the time. Occasionally, most students receive poor grades on assignments. Further, many students go through phases where they let school work slide. School underachievement should be considered a problem if:
- It occurs over a long period of time, and the student falls so far behind that she cannot catch up.
- The student is missing important foundational skills that are needed for future classes.
- The student is showing signs of depression, isolation, problem behavior, or is hanging out with a delinquent crowd.
- Feel overwhelmed and incapable of doing better;
- Be influenced by peers;
- Feel picked on or be angry with teachers;
- Have a learning style that is not being accommodated in class;
- Lack the ability to discipline himself to do the work;
- Resist parents' or teachers' authority;
- Have been allowed too much independence at home or school;
- Be seeking attention from parents or teachers;
- Low teacher expectations;
- Gaps in attendance, frequent moves, or inadequate prior instruction; and
- Unhealthy relationships at school and/or home.
5. Strategies to Improve School Underachievement by LD StudentsDepending on the cause of underachievement, it is possible to help an underachiever improve. Early intervention increases the possibility of improvement and may prevent the behavior from becoming a problem in adult life.
- Meet with your child's teacher and the IEP team to discuss the problem and share ideas to help.
- Build positive communication with school staff.
- Consider requesting assessment to diagnose any underlying problems and suggest possible interventions.
- Consider counseling and tutoring for your child.
- Explore the possibility of a behavior modification plan targeting academics and on-task behavior.