The New York Times reports that school administrators in New York City are struggling to find ways to differentiate between true giftedness in children and children who have just had lots of prepping by private tutors and their parents.
“…The city’s leading private schools are even considering doing away with the test they have used for decades, popularly known as the E.R.B., after the Educational Records Bureau, the organization that administers the exam, which is written by Pearson.
“ ‘It’s something the schools know has been corrupted,” said Dr. Samuel J. Meisels, an early-childhood education expert who gave a presentation in the fall to private school officials, encouraging them to abandon the test. Excessive test preparation, he said, “invalidates inferences that can be drawn” about children’s “learning potential and intellect and achievement.” …
“Scores had been soaring. For the 2012-13 school year, nearly 5,000 children qualified for gifted and talented kindergarten seats in New York City public schools. That was more than double the number five years ago. “We were concerned enough about our definition of giftedness being affected by test prep — as we were prior school experience, primary spoken language, socioeconomic background and culture — that we changed the assessment,” Adina Lopatin, a deputy chief academic officer in the Education Department, said.
“And yet test prep companies leapt to action, printing new books tailored to the new test and organizing classes. …”
The story has all kinds of examples of the way companies and parents are prepping their kids to take these tests to claim their seats in the gifted kindergarten classroom and other classes. Some 4-year-olds are spending hours weekly over months on test prep.
Now I’ve always heard that you can get false negatives on gifted testing but not false positives – meaning gifted kids can screw up the test (either on purpose or because hey they’re in first grade and who’s paying attention to that lady talking) but they can’t accidentally test in. So I’m not sure what to make of the preparing for the test. I guess they aren’t doing straight IQ tests, which I don’t think you can really prepare for.
At our school in Gwinnett, every child in the first grade took the CogAT in the fall. If they scored 97 percent or higher then they went on to further gifted testing. The CogAT was how they narrowed the field. The child had to pass three out of four categories of the gifted testing to get into the gifted program.
Now at a friend’s school in metro Atlanta that had a higher income level than our school, all the kids were tested for gifted because otherwise the parents complained that they weren’t even given the chance to test.
So what do you think? Can you get false positives with gifted testing? Can you prep for those tests?
Do you think this is New York City problem? (Say like the guy in the Pace salsa commercial.) Is this type of preparation to beat the test happening in other cities around the country? Are you the dumb one if you don’t prep your kids?
Did you prep your child for gifted testing? Did you send them to any type of tutor service or choose a specific private psychologist to do testing to give your child a greater chance to test in?