International Adoption Info

Newsletter #105 for Internationally Adopting Parents
March 5, 2009
PAL Center Inc.


6th Annual Education Conference


April 17-18 at
Texas Christian University
Fort Worth, TX

For more information

From Our International Adoption Articles Directory

Judson Greenman
Dealing With Public Tantrums
Dealing with tantrums, particularly with a special needs child, is never an easy task for a parent, and can stretch your patience and parenting skills to the extreme. The best way to deal with a child tantrum is to prevent it from happening, so here are some tips and suggestions.

From the Internet Digest

Pam Wright
Can Parents Force a School to Evaluate Their Child?
Can a school be "forced" to do something they don't want to do?

Let's frame the question another way. Does the law require the school to test the child? Yes. Is the school required to comply with the law? Yes.

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    B. Gindis, Ph.D.
    Test taking skills and test taking modifications for
    internationally adopted children

School-age international adoptees, particularly those adopted after the age of 7, will be exposed to testing, including state-wide tests. In general, test taking is a culturally unknown territory for them: there may be no such phenomenon in their native countries. In this domain they compete with peers who grew up taking tests practically from kindergarten. Test taking is a culturally-determined activity: it includes certain behavior patterns, expectations, and feelings. The assumption that children who never participated in such activity will learn it quickly just through observation of their peers is often not correct. No wonder, many adoptive parents complain that their children may know the material, but as soon as it comes to testing (even routine weekly classroom testing), their children do not perform well.

Actually, there are two kinds of issues here. One is regular testing - a part of everyday school routine. Another is test taking modification - a possible part of a child's Individual Educational Plan.

Addressing the first issue, international adoptees have to be specifically taught how to perform, feel, and think during test taking activities. There is a lot of information on this topic on the Internet, and parents and teachers should implement recommended techniques in preparing their students for tests:

A related to this discussion issue is test taking anxiety problem. Many international adoptees experience what is known as "floating anxiety" (a generalized anxiety related to many aspects of school functioning). Test anxiety is defined as a situation-specific anxiety. There are two components in test anxiety: emotional and cognitive. Cognitive component affects memory and reasoning and may include some self-defeating thoughts of immanent failure, uselessness of efforts, etc. Emotional component consists of the physiological symptoms, such as sweating, dizzy spells, stomachache, or headache. Students with test anxiety may report stomach upset and headaches the day before and/or the day of the test. They may not feel like eating or have difficulty sleeping the night before the test. Some parents report bedwetting and crying.

Here is a description of child's behavior I often observe during the testing (the child was given an achievement tests 16 months after adoption): "Performance-related anxiety was a prominent feature of her interaction. At times she scanned my face and movements for clues on how to perform various assignments. On many occasions, particularly with math tests, her elevated anxiety led to a "freeze and surrender" posture: she put forward a passive, stupor-like, unresponsive façade as her way of coping with the challenges related to those test items that she perceived as difficult for her. She often answered with a rising inflection, as though she did not trust herself to give the correct response".
There are many ways to address test anxiety, but they have to be individualized: no "one-size-fits-all" approach works here. Here is more information on this subject:

For those children who have IEP, a number of test modification options should be included in their plan. These test modifications have to be periodically reviewed and adjusted by your IEP team. Most typical test taking modifications should include:

  • Extended (probably doubled) time for assignments
  • Separate location/small group setting for test taking.
  • Questions to be read aloud for the child (math testing only).
  • Instructions to be read and re-read for the (both math and ELA).

Please refer to my article written specifically about test accommodations for internationally adopted post-institutionalized children: Test accommodations for internationally adopted children with disabilities, available at


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