In Part #1 of our interview, Kindergarten Shuffle director Douglas Morse talked about how his very timely movie about Kindergarten admissions in New York City came to be, and discussed its mixture of fiction and documentary styles. In Part #2, below, he tackles test prep, true giftedness and parental involvement in their child's education.
NY Gifted Education Examiner: You indicate in the film that your son was prepped for the OLSTAT test. How do you feel about kids being prepped for the test? Some argue that it's unfair and penalizes equally bright children whose parents don't have the time or the know-how to prep them.
Douglas Morse: Our son was not prepped for the Stanford Binet or the ERB administered test. He scored extremely well. We decided to order the KTSS (Kindergarten Test Study System) before he took the OLSAT. He had missed the Hunter cut off by a single point (as depicted in the movie) and I didn’t want that sort of thing to happen again. I do feel that tutoring can unlevel the playing field and perhaps place children into programs that aren’t right for them. But then again, private pre-school and an involved stay-at-home parent also provides untold benefits to children. Tutoring is just a more extreme example of inequality. That said, I want to be clear that a very small percentage of children, generally those that score above the 95th percentile on tests, and then are evaluated by educators, will not be well served by a traditional classroom and will thrive with an accelerated curriculum.
NY Gifted Education Examiner: The movie ends with a bit of dues ex machina for two of the families featured. Do you feel this ending gives a false sense of what the NYC school experience is really like?
Douglas Morse: I don’t want to give away the ending to the film, but I do want to say that I feel if you advocate strongly enough for your child, you can get what’s best for them. It was true in our case in which there was an error on the scoring – though not exactly as portrayed in the movie. My friend, Jay, did have a brush with being closed out of his local school. We just took the real events and stretched them a little further for dramatic effect. Though not as much as you’d think.
NY Gifted Education Examiner: Any final thoughts you'd like to share regarding what you learned both applying your son to school and making the film about it?
Douglas Morse: The year of applying to schools is one of the most stressful and difficult processes parents can go through. Gather as much information, open as many options as possible. It’s not worth it to rail against the system as that’s wasted energy. Focus on finding the best for your child. We also learned about our child’s educational needs through the process and what is right for our child and our family is not the right thing for your family – a point I hope is clear in the movie.
Kindergarten Shuffle's next NYC screening is scheduled for September 23 at 7:30 PM at the AALBC Gallery on 64 West 119th Street in Harlem. Click here for more information.
The NYC 2011 Admissions season officially begins Tuesday, September 7, 2010. Subscribe to the NY Gifted Education Examiner and let us guide you through the process!