NY Gifted Education Examiner: How do you feel about the contention that a child who has been prepped for the ERB or other school placement test might end up in program more difficult than they can actually handle?
Karen Quinn: Again, if you focus on strengthening these seven underlying abilities (outlined in Part #2), your child’s test performance will accurately reflect what he can do. He’ll end up in a program that matches what he can handle.
NY Gifted Education Examiner: Some claim that private school admissions directors can tell when a child has been prepped. Is this true in your experience, and do you have a solution for it?
Karen Quinn: It all depends on how you “prep” the child. When I was a kindergarten admissions advisor, we had a child whose mom had shown her son some of the cards from the Stanford-Binet. I don’t even remember how she got her hands on them. The boy was interviewing at St. Ann’s in Brooklyn. At that time, they gave kids the Stanford-Binet during their school interview. The mom, who was sitting outside the room where her son was being evaluated, heard him through the door telling the tester that his mom had those cards at home and that he had seen and done them before. Obviously, he did not get in. If a child has seen something from the test or very close to what is on the test, he is likely to say something. So you must be very careful that this doesn’t happen. Some of the commercial test prep materials you can buy today offer blocks that look too much like the real thing in my opinion. I advise parents not to use them. If you prepare your child with the activities I suggest in my book, your child won’t appear to be “prepped” because these are the kinds of things that involved parents do as a matter of course.
NY Gifted Education Examiner: How do public G&T programs, public citywide gifted programs, and private schools - progressive and traditional - differ when it comes to accommodating the children who test well?
Karen Quinn: In NY, you’re lucky to have the Citywide gifted programs. These do a great job accommodating the needs of children who are genuinely gifted. The Gifted & Talented programs in the city are quite good and offer an advanced curriculum. Private schools in the city are excellent when it comes to supporting particularly bright kids (most are not so good at accommodating kids with learning issues, however). Having a child in the top 1% can be very tough because even programs geared to very bright kids can’t always accommodate the needs of the most profoundly gifted. If your child falls into that category and his needs aren’t being met in school, you should work with a professional educational consultant to help you find the best program and supplemental support possible. On the flip side, if you have a child who doesn’t test well or whose subtest scores are inconsistent, he may need additional help for learning delays. Both of my children fell into this category. In Testing For Kindergarten, I talk about how to get free support services from the City for children who are dealing with learning issues.
NY Gifted Education Examiner: Where, besides your book, can parents go to learn more about your program?
Karen Quinn: I offer free daily tips, activities and practice test questions at www.TestingForKindergarten.com. There is also an informational blog (with interactive prep activities for kids) and lots of additional information that I couldn’t fit into the book.
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