I find most folks today (kids & adults) have the most difficulty in reading and comprehension of what they are reading.
Much of that is due to a lack of reading, most folks do not know much in the way of vocabulary (beyond every day useage) and that really hurts them when they come to testing. I also note that most folks don't put much time into reading for pleasure. And the GREAT thing is that it can be fixed!!!! (wahoo!!! life is good)
Parents, it's important to impress upon your (hopefully) college bound child EARLY on as a freshman - sophomore - junior - senior, that the better they do, the better scholarships they will receive. And the more they know now, the less painful it will be when they get to college or other higher institutions of learning. Or out into the business world.
***Scientific studies repeatedly show (statistically) that repeated exposure to specific vocabulary enhances and increases the student's utilization of the words. Basically, if your child sees / hears / uses the word repeatedly, it "sticks" better with every use!
Part of "doing better" is having a larger, more functional vocabulary than others. When we look at SAT testing we know, especially when we shell out that money for those SAT practice test books, that each book shows that there are approximately 3500 words that will be in use for that year's test. That means that your student has to be at least a bit familiar with all of those words listed. This in and of itself is very daunting to most students, both guys and gals.
***Please be aware parents, in the really good SAT practice books they not only have the 3500 words that your child needs to know for excellence in this year's test, it also contains the definitions (within the book! wow, cool!), and it contains very specific info on the roots, suffixes, and prefixes that are a necessity to "figuring out words we don't know - yet". That SAT practice book you spent so much money on is a fantastic resource! I push my students to learn 5 or more words a day, in this way it's like a plant that is watered a little bit every day, it -does- sink in ;-)
Most of the students I'm lucky enough to tutor are very smart in so many areas, BUT, they (almost all) have little or no use for extraneous words, in other words - the words that they don't use every day. To me, that's like only seeing a few colors in the color spectrum - or only being able to taste a few flavors - yikes that's limited. I hear you ask "how do I help my child/children to change this trend?" Glad you asked ;-) Please take a look at my "Learning References" page within the blog area. It has all sorts of ideas and links, mostly free, to help students and parents survive and hopefully thrive in the High School years. And please know, these tools can be used by anyone at any age. So it's never too early to start, whether with your middle schooler or even your late elementary schooler.
A reader is an achiever!