After Namine finished her PALS test, Jessica texted me, “I have news. Call me.” I didn’t know what to expect.

Every time Jessica tells me that Namine has another PALS test, I have to look up what that stands for.

Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening

It’s basically the standardized test for measuring literacy. I knew that, but I just never remember the acronym.

When Namine had her PALS test at the beginning of the school year, the results indicated that she was pretty much where she should be — she was starting first grade, and they estimated her reading level to be about second semester of first grade.

Now, however — keeping in mind that Namine is still in first grade — her reading is at the third grade level. This comes as no surprise to me, since our reading time at night mostly consists of her reading to me.

Now this strikes me as interesting. Namine has done the whole PALS testing thing at least twice now, and each time it takes about an hour to get through. We receive Namine’s results afterward, and that’s that.

But never once have we heard of any problem with Namine’s attention or focus during the test. Never once have we heard of an inability on her part to complete any section of the test.

Contrast that with the testing done at the PINT clinic — the child neuropsychology clinic. Both times Namine has been tested there, they’ve come back saying that she is mentally handicapped, has an attention disorder (ADD or ADHD, but they haven’t decided), or has a processing disorder; based on the most recent testing results, maybe a combination of the above.

Personally, I have my doubts. I know I’m just an uneducated parent, and I’m just guessing here, but I think the difference is context.

I don’t think Namine thinks much of the PINT clinic. I don’t think she trusts the doctors. I don’t think she cares about the tests, and I don’t think she has any particular interest in doing her best in them.

But the PALS test — along with other tests during normal school — Namine cares about. Her interest is evidenced by her good performance. We’ve seen evidence that Namine does not always test well — she suffers from test anxiety, as Jessica and I do — but she always tries her best, when she has an interest in it.

That’s the difficult thing, I think: finding motivation where none exists. But that’s not a disability, that’s just part of growing up. That’s perfectly normal, and it’s up to us — all three of us — to work it out together.

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