Those New Yorkers will pay for anything (Test Prep for Kiddies)
For the commenter who recently asked whether parents actually try to prep kids for testing before Kindergarten — in NYC the answer is yes. Check out the following NYTimes story:
I think this sums up the mindset (and that of Chicago parents who are thinking about it.)
“Test preparation has long been a big business catering to students taking SATs and admissions exams for law, medical and other graduate schools. But the new clientele is quite a bit younger: 3- and 4-year-olds whose parents hope that a little assistance — costing upward of $1,000 for several sessions — will help them win coveted spots in the city’s gifted and talented public kindergarten classes.”
I haven’t known of parents in Chicago going to great lengths on test prep, but I think there are local parents who’d like to have their kids do a few practice questions just to make sure the kid has a clue about what to do come test time. I’ve done some of the workbook-type stuff that I ordered from ThinkTonight.com and in my opinion I could help my son understand how questions are asked (which maybe gives him an edge? Or not.) but in no way could I push his level of comprehension. So I guess what I’m saying is that I can hone his test-taking skills but not his actual knowledge. Actually that was true when he was pre-K level. There are just certain mental breakthroughs that kids that age either have made or not. You can’t fake it. (That was Piaget’s whole theory.) That’s why I think it can make sense for parents to do some work at home, but paying $1000K for a prep service seems crazy to me. But everything in the NYC education system is bumped up about 10 notches.
Although it drives me crazy how much of a secret the test is in Chicago, I also think it’s weird that the NYC public school system makes theirs widely knows (its called the OLSAT.) The article even says that they provide 16 sample questions to level the playing field. I’ll have to try to track that down.
A company in NYC called BrightKids has an OLSAT boot camp that is now full but parents can order a test-prep book for a mere $90. (I am almost loathe to post the link – I know I’d have been tempted to order this book when we were testing for K, but I have a weird resentment for these companies getting rich off of blatant test prep for 4-year-olds.) I will point out that we don’t actually know whether the CPS test is OLSAT and in theory if you have your child practice on this workbook you could be throwing them totally of course if a different test is used.
UPDATE: Helen from Thinktonight.com was nice enough to send me the following information. This is the best example of actual test-type questions I’ve seen to date . Keep in mind this is OLSAT which may not be what Chicago uses.
Here’s the link to the NY Gifted handbooks. The practice tests are at the end.
They’re designed to introduce children to the format of the test. They’re
not full length and not necessarily the same difficulty level as the actual
test. This test is intended as practice for NYC parents who have signed up to have their kids tested there.