Posts filed under ‘Gifted / Classical Testing’

Gifted test this week

Yep, I’m a glutton for punishment.  (Well, inflicting punishment.)  I’m going to have my son take the gifted test for the 3rd year in a row.   Our test is this Saturday.

I joked last year about taking the test just in case something happened at our school or his current RGC program was canned.  And guess what.  I’ve just found out that the principal at our school will be retiring at the end of this year (which makes me really sad.)  So SEE?!  You really never know what’ll happen from year to year.

I’m treating it mainly as a free assessment and a point of data to see if he is leveling off in some way (which will mean possibly helping him keep up more by supplementing at home.)  But of course part of me has no desire to see if his “giftedness” (which in his case is more “brightness” than true giftedness) is declining.  But ultimately I’m a data person and if there’s a way to know, I want to know.

I don’t think I’m going to do anything to have him practice this week.   Well, maybe practice a few logic questions.  Heck, what can it hurt right?  Just to get him back in the swing of things after a cushy winter break.   (As a side note, I mentioned to my son this morning that it was time to get “get back into the swing of things” which he interpreted as “get back onto the swingaling” which sounded a lot more fun to him.  It’s about time they installed that swingaling at the school!)

Explaining the test gets a little weird.  I’ll just tell him once again that it’s a test that some kids take to see what they’ve learned in school.   From what I understand there are plenty of kids whose crazy parents test them every year just to keep the options open.  The Decatur principal implied that parents consider switching from Edison to Decatur year by year.   Not sure if that’s true or not.

Let me know if there are any good stories about the tests or if your child is one of the few who spilled the beans about what was on it.

Back to the swingaling of work now…..

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January 4, 2010 at 11:11 am 13 comments

Introducing the new admission criteria for Gifted/Classical schools

I called the GEAP office this morning to confirm the “ranking” process for the Gifted and Classical schools for the 2010/2011 school year.

As many have figure out, for each class 40% of the kids (11 kids) will get in based on test scores alone (no consideration of race or socioeconomic level.)

The remaning 60% (17 kids) will be selected based on the 4 socioeconomic levels derived from census tract.  So about 4 kids per socioeconomic group.

Not sure what I think about it yet.  I guess it will please the people who think admission should be totally merit-based and also please the people who think race/socio should be taken into account.

Mainly I think I got lucky applying in the year we did (2 years) ago because it sounds like my son would have had a much slimmer chance of qualifying under the new system.

December 18, 2009 at 10:39 am 39 comments

Some resources for gifted/classical test “prep”

This is some information from Helen at www.thinktonight.com which sells some books that could help your child feel comfortable taking the gifted or classical test.  I’m not calling it test prep per se (because then we’d be like freaky new yorkers) but hey, what can it hurt to have your child practice answering some questions in advance so they know what they’re doing that day?  At the very least I’ve found them fun to do with my son since they’re more like brain teasers than actual school work.  Use your best judgement to see what makes sense for your own child.  Unfortunely none of us know what actual test is used, nor are true test-prep materials actually available for sale.

From Helen:

My top picks for testing before Kindergarten are
Building Thinking Skills Primary and the interlocking cubes that are used
with it (attribute blocks are used too but they can be made out of colored
cardboard) for verbal and non-verbal reasoning.  Done with a parent scribe
who talks the exercises through  with a child this really builds vocabulary.
There is an easier level of this called Building Thinking Skills Beginning
but most Pre K children being tested are ready for the Primary level so long
as the parent remembers that they’re not expected to be reading the
questions or writing the answers.  It’s a read aloud for preschoolers.
http://www.thinktonight.com/Building_Thinking_Skills_Primary_p/05231pbn.htm
http://www.thinktonight.com/Building_Thinking_Skills_Beginning_p/05233pbn.ht
m

BambinoLUK system (books can be purchased in two or three book sets if the
entire set looks like too much.  Controller is needed).  In addition to the
cognitive skills this was developed to teach the design encourages
concentration, perseverance and independence.  Unlike my other suggestions a
child can use this completely independently after they’ve been introduced to
the system.
http://www.thinktonight.com/bambinoLUK_s/283.htm – the product
http://www.thinktonight.com/How_to_Play_LUK_s/288.htm – how it works

Can You Find Me? Pre K  and Can You Find Me? Pre K for logic riddles
requiring listening and identification of a picture solution (a common way
that pre school tests are presented).  Even if the Pre K looks simple it’s
worth doing because many of the questions during testing will be simple and
it’s important for a child to understand that they need to give the correct
answer – the one that most children who answer correctly will choose –
rather than a “smart” answer that they could justify.  That’s a fun thing to
do with a parent but not during testing.
http://www.thinktonight.com/Can_You_Find_Me_s/55.htm

For Preschool readiness (and some tests) a math book is also a good idea.
The Beginning 2 or Level A are the most likely to be suitable.  Beginning 2
develops understanding of numbers up to 20.  Level A corresponds to a
typical kindergarten curriulum.
http://www.thinktonight.com/Mathematical_Reasoning_s/46.htm

Helen

December 12, 2009 at 7:39 pm 10 comments

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:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/21/nyregion/21testprep.html?_r=1&hp=&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1258811470-lVJ3gNim+OERIRhVuzU20w

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.

http://www.brightkidsnyc.com/view-news.asp?id=1

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.
http://schools.nyc.gov/Academics/GiftedandTalented/EligibilityApplications/G
T+Handbooks+09-10AY

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.

November 21, 2009 at 9:02 am 19 comments

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