Twelve-year-old Sara lives with her mother who has a relaxed schedule. Ms. Mercer,
Sara’s teacher, notes Sara is often tired and inattentive after arriving late. Sara says she
frequently stays up past 1 a.m. Ms. Mercer, a second- year teacher, has asked for an assessment
of Sara to suggest ways to help Sara achieve Ms. Mercer’s purposes.
Observation: Ms. Mercer’s Class, April 30
Pre-observation Interview Notes:
Ms. Mercer says, “The purposes of grade six are to teach students “school survival skills”
and the academic domains. She adds, “Sara needs help with ‘survival skills’, including following
directions, concentrating on a task to its completion, and being attentive to the lessons I present.”
Classroom Observation-Focus on Sara Porter:
As Ms. Mercer’s class begins, the students are using manipulatives to solve mathematical
problems. As students return equipment to the appropriate spot, Ms. Mercer praises them for
keeping the classroom organized. She instructs them to return to their previously assigned groups
as Sara enters the classroom.
The students are seated at six tables, four students at each table. Ms. Mercer explains,
“Tables one and two will work on their language arts first, while tables three and four will solve
math problems, and tables five and six will prepare title pages for your next section in science.
After twenty-five minutes, the group will stop the first activity and begin working on a second
task, without changing seats. Twenty-five minutes later you will change again to work on the
activity each group has not yet done.” Ms. Mercer says, “I will work with the group working on
language arts,” planning to monitor their progress. “The math groups will turn in their work at
the end of their time together. Those doing the science title pages will submit their work when
time is called.”
Sara begins with the language arts groups one and two. As the students read passages
aloud, Ms. Mercer praises them. When she calls on Sara, she begins reading in the wrong place.
Joyce, seated next to Sara, points to where they are. Ms. Mercer says, “Sara, you would know
where we are if you were paying attention.” She calls on another student. Sara looks hurt, but
soon starts to follow along in the book. Subsequently, Ms. Mercer calls on Sara, who now has the
right place. Ms. Mercer then calls on another student.
During the math activity, Sara, yawning frequently, is the last to open her workbook and
write her name. When she completes the page, she waits. She seems puzzled, although Ms.
Mercer has already given directions. Sara gets up, sharpens a pencil, and returns to the wrong
seat. “That’s MY seat,” accuses an angry boy. Sara apologizes and returns to her seat. Later, she
wants to have her workbook checked. She has not torn out pages as Ms. Mercer instructed. Sara
is told to “Do it right.” Sara has not creased the paper as Ms. Mercer demonstrated so the pages
do not come out easily. Sara frowns and looks away. Suddenly she yanks the paper and the
pages come out with jagged edges. She receives 7 out of 10 for her work. Ms. Mercer says,
“Sara, this is good. I wish you could get a hundred percent.” Sara slaps herself on the forehead.
During the science title page activity, Sara helps several others who have trouble thinking
of ideas. Sara’s illustration is among the best handed in.
After the group work, Ms. Mercer asks the students to write in their journals about the
field trip they had gone on the day before. Sara fidgets in her seat and stares out the window.
Ms. Mercer tells the class that she wants them to have their journal entries finished by the end of
fifteen minutes and that they should write at least three paragraphs about what they saw or did on
the field trip. Sara makes a face at her neighbour. She writes one word in her journal, “Boring”.
Post-observation Interview Notes
Ms. Mercer says, “Sara is a top performer in academic achievement and on standardized
tests, consistently scoring among the top five students in the class. She’s so bright. It’s a shame
she’s late and distracted so much.” The resource teacher replies, “There may be something else
bothering Sara. Although easily distracted, there may be other explanations for her behaviour.”
Through the referral process, Sara’s mother consented to a full assessment of Sara’s
academic potential and achievement. The resource teacher administered the educational
achievement measures and the school psychologist administered an intellectual assessment. The
following test results and interpretations were attained through the assessment process.
Sara Porter Chronological Age 12.3
Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-3rd Edition (WISC-111)
Verbal Score (range) 124-129
Performance Score (range) 127-137
Full Scale Score (range) 128-139
Sara’s overall scores on the WISC-111 fall in the Very Superior range of ability,
however, she achieved within the average range of scores for Digit Span and Arithmetic. Based
on the testing results, classroom observations and information provided by the classroom teacher,
Sara was assessed for attention difficulties. The Connors’ Rating Scale was completed by the
classroom teacher and Sara’s mother. While the classroom teacher noted areas of concern
regarding Sara’s lack of attention and distractible behaviours in class, the rating scale completed
by Sara’s mother did not reflect these concerns. It would appear that the lack of attention noted
in school is particular to the school setting and does not generalize to other settings.
Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests-Revised
Subtest Grade Equivalent
Word Identification 9.7
Word Attack 9.3
Word Comprehension 10.4
Passage Comprehension 11.1
Total Full Scale 10.1
Subtest Grade Equivalent
Basic Concepts 10.2
(Numeration, Rational Numbers, Geometry)
(Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication,
Division and Mental Computation)
(Measurement, Time and Money, Estimation,
Interpreting Data, Problem Solving)
Canadian Tests of Basic Skills
Word Analysis 9.2
Language Skills 10.6
Mathematical Skills 10.3
Recommendations for Sara Porter
Recommendations made to Ms. Mercer consisted of the following:
a. Talk to Mrs. Porter about Sara’s need for sleep in order to arrive at school on time and to pay
attention to what is going on in the classroom.
b. Set up a daily communication book that Sara will carry back and forth to school in order to
correspond daily with Mrs. Porter about Sara’s school arrival time and her level of attention
throughout the day.
c. Provide incentives (e.g. free time) for attentive behaviours during class time.
d. Refer Mrs. Porter to a general physician for a complete physical for Sara to determine
whether there is a medical concern and to investigate the use of medication for attention
e. Use positive discipline techniques to direct Sara’s attention and to provide consequences for