When I was in high school, my test scores statistically did not make any sense. For some reason or another, I managed to score advanced in reading on the PSSAs (Pennsylvania’s standardized state test). That sounds like I would score highly on the SAT’s right? Nope. When I went to take the SATs, I completely bombed the reading section. Because my scores were low, my dad thought it was a good idea to sign me up for an SAT prep class for students who were trying to improve their scores. The class guaranteed that they could raise your SAT score by 300 points. I did pretty well on their writing and math exercises, but I could not do the reading. I even tried working on the reading practice tests with the instructor. He was wondering why I seemed to miss the easy questions. Did the SAT prep class help? Well, my writing and math scores improved by a long shot, but my reading score barely rose.
I wanted to accept the fact that I was never able to read for some reason. It seemed like I always had this problem. In elementary school, I always struggled with reading comprehension. I always managed to incorrectly answer questions. I managed to develop a great ear for listening in order to pick up on what the teacher said so I wouldn’t have to read.
Despite my inability to read, I always had some talent for writing, and this helped me decide to become a language arts teacher. When I got to college, I had a lot of trouble reading. None of the textbooks made any sense. I was able to make it onto the deans list every semester for my first two years because I managed to develop listening skills to make up for my inability to read. What on earth was wrong with my eyes?
Last summer, I had to take the PAPA Test in order to be allowed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to take an education class. I was absolutely terrified because I had to take a reading test. In order to pass each test, I need a score of at least 220/300.
I took the writing and math tests first, and my scores were 276 and 282. So far I passed. Now I just had to pass the reading test, and I scored a 174. What?! How on Earth did I manage to score this lowly on the reading test and so high on all the other tests? Statistically, this made absolutely no sense. Because I struggled so much with reading, I decided to work with a tutor to figure out whatever I was doing wrong.
During our first tutoring session, I tried to read a passage and ended up answering some easy questions incorrectly. I then tried reading another passage. Then Mrs, Rittman, my tutor, took out a pair of glasses from her purse and told me to put them on. I did and tried to read the passage. “Wait! I can actually see this!” I said. It turned out I needed very weak reading glasses because I cannot process reading words. I can see the words and point out what they say, but I could never process meaning. A couple weeks, later I took the PAPA reading test and brought my score up to 267. Woah! Did I just bring my score up a little less than one hundred points? I figured out why my test scores never statistically made sense. I needed glasses.
My mom then took me to the eye doctor because she wondered if I had any other vision issues besides reading issues. After undergoing a couple eye examinations, the eye doctor placed one object after another in front of my eye. I said that it looks like I could see right through it. This did not seem to surprise the eye doctor.
It turned out I was near sighted this entire time. The reason I could never focus on reading words was that my left eye does not work with my right eye to read words. This also is why it looks like any object placed right in front of my face is transparent. I also found out that I need to take vision therapy so I went through that my last few weeks of summer. With these new glasses, I can finally say that I am able to read.
I interviewed Gannon education professor Dr. Forbes. Forbes said, “Getting glasses should help a student improve their learning. The content should be clearer to see, and that should reduce the amount of thinking used to decode the words and increase the thinking used to understand the meaning.”