by Ron Scarfone

The month of March is when students begin taking standardized tests. I believe that there are three qualities that a student must have in order to do well on these tests: speed, accuracy and stamina. A student needs to be able to answer the questions in a timely manner or else he or she will run out of time. A student has to be able to answer most of the questions correctly in order to pass. Speed without accuracy means finishing the test but not passing the test. Accuracy without speed means answering the questions correctly that were completed, but not answering enough of them to get a passing score.

Both speed and accuracy are necessary. Stamina is also a necessary trait to have for standardized tests because they tend to be lengthy. When I was a reading teacher, many of my students did not pass the state exam for reading because they did not read all the passages. They did not have the stamina to read passages that they were not interested in. If they did read through the whole test, most of them probably would have passed.

I began reading when I was two years old. My parents read a book titled How to Teach Your Baby to Read: The Gentle Revolution by Glenn Doman. It is still in print but has been revised since originally published. I was taught to read by my parents using the method described in the book. Words on poster board in big letters were shown to me when I was a baby. My mom or dad would show me a word such as “mommy” or “daddy” and read the word to me. Eventually, I was able to read those words and many others. My parents took it a step further. They taped some of the words to the wall in our home. Essentially, they made what is now known as a word wall. Teachers use word walls in their classrooms today. I did as well when I was a reading teacher.

According to Doman’s book, the window of opportunity when children learn a language the best is just after birth to age six. However, children are usually five years old when they begin kindergarten. Children could learn words from watching Sesame Street and other educational shows, but parents should also be teaching their children before they begin elementary school. Doman’s book explains how to make your own words on poster board, but today you can just buy them from Doman’s website You can also buy similar word cards at an educational supply store such as ACE Educational Supplies ( in Davie and Margate or on

When the state of Florida was transitioning from the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) to the Florida Standards Assessments (FSA) which is based on the Common Core standards, I did not agree with this change. Many people believed that the Common Core was purposefully dumbing down education. At the time when the transition was being made, ACE Educational Supplies was selling both FCAT and Common Core books. Since my expertise was in reading, I examined one book of FCAT Reading and another book of Common Core Reading. Both books were stated as being at the sixth grade level. The FCAT passages looked like they were legitimately sixth grade level reading passages. However, the Common Core passages looked more like third grade level passages even though the book stated that it was at the sixth grade level. Just from this example alone, it is obvious what the agenda is.

As a society, we are around more words than we have ever had in human history, but many students cannot read at their grade level. As a private tutor, I can help students improve in subjects such as reading and math. I also have a proven track record in enabling students to pass standardized tests such as state exams in elementary, middle and high school. I also tutor young adults and adults in passing the GED test which is equivalent to a high school diploma.

I am a traveling tutor. I come to you. For more information, call 954-591-1784 or email [email protected]