Saturday, April 6, 2019

What to Worry About Post Test

Test results have recently been sent out in the bigger districts. They've been sent out for the last 6 months across the country. It's time for the parent to worry about next steps.

My research has now moved to 6th grade through high school. I'm sorry to say that this will be the last post on this blog. I'm moving to www.competitiveparentmagazine.com to continue my quest to be an adequate parent with over the top research and competitive strategies that leave others in the dust. I chose my url carefully to stay under the radar until me and my 15 readers make some headway. In this article, I'm closing the chapter on GAT programs.

Test results

It can take a few attempts for kids who are behind to catch up. It can take a few attempts for especially bright children to pass the GAT test and get into a gifted and talented program. If your test results fell short, try harder next time. That was the situation we were in for my second child. My first child was fortunate to end up in the best program in our city despite having test scores that were a full 10 points short. We had lots of catching up to do those first rough years.

All gifted kids face an odd challenge - there are only a few years when academic capability and school grades correlate perfectly - 7th grade and Junior year in high school; the rest of the time the brightest kids aren't necessarily the ones with the best grades. Once your test scores say your child is gifted, you have this problem.

If your child is accepted into a gifted and talented program, the challenge is just beginning. Assuming your child passed, and your child is between age 6 and 9, here are your priorities, in priority order, with the most important priorities first:

  • This is the golden age of reading.
  • The internet is full and library is full of wonderful science experiments.
  • Between 1st and 3rd grade, you can develop memorization skills at the 99.99999999% with minimal effort.
  • You can continue normal math studies, ala Kumon IXL Khan Academy, in order to stay ahead, or you can look to the next major academic event, most likely 5th grade or middle school, and start planning for something extra-ordinary.

Reading

This is the golden age of reading. Time spent here will pay off big for decades to come.

The Magic Tree House series is well over 150 books at this point. In the average gifted program, there is a group of children enjoying the competition of reading every single one of these books. We started right before 1st grade with me doing a lot of the reading and within time marched through all the books. I had to supplement the reading program with readers (see my reading page). I highly recommend getting all the books from the library in which ever order you can. First, you don't want to end up with hundreds of books on your shelf that you have to throw away. More importantly, every time we went to the library we had to pick up a dozen books of all kinds, like adult level picture books, fables, random history and science books.

Once you get past Magic Tree House, there is everything written by Roald Dahl and a brand new literature of awesomeness written by young female authors. The end goal is a child who loves reading and does it really well. This is a useful skill in high school and beyond.

We came back to reading comp practice at the end of sixth grade. We used SAT practice test books and had a phenomenal showing on the reading section of the SAT at age 12. Apparently I did something right. My father-in-law taught high school English for 40 years. His advice on reading was simply to read. He also mentioned that the key to writing was to simply write, and that advice paid off in middle school.

Memorization

We didn't know at the time that using the Word Board to survive our At Home vocabulary and school grammar and spelling (1st through 3rd grade) would result in kids who could memorize new vocabulary on the spot. When my oldest was facing 7th grade Chemistry, we bought a high school AP Chemistry book the summer before to knock off the vocab. I had one kid doing the Word Board for spelling and the other memorizing words I didn't know on sight. The light bulb went off. This super power is developed by practicing vocab at the right time in the development of the brain. I should write a paper on this topic.

The next step

In our case, the next major academic event was a strong sixth grade showing in preparation for 7th grade. During 7th grade, test scores and grades determine high school entry. I asked the question, "what do we have to do in 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade to prepare for this event"? Do we need high test scores and straight A's? Only if there is a 100% correlation between these activities and getting into a gifted high school. So we stayed focused on higher order cognitive skills and subskills related to our next goal, and I accepted B's, C's and even one D on the report card in areas that didn't matter.

I didn't like to see low scores in science. Science seems to put together math, reading, projects and other base skills. So we did a lot of science.

Math

Most of the brightest students in our program saw their test scores fall to 85% on the map by 4th grade. These are the children of college math teachers or other professionals with multiple graduate degrees. I talked to a lot of worried parents. The reason for this is long division, pre algebra, multiple digit multiplication, and other math topics on the annual test that are the opposite of intelligence. We totally blew off school math during this period in order to stay focused on the skills that the child will need by middle school.

I wrote the Test Prep Math series with this in mind. While other kids were practicing their arithmetic in 2nd and 3rd grade, we were practicing thinking through convoluted, vague, open ended problems. I got a lot of negative reviews for this approach and at times felt bad taking this huge risk.

My child scored 8 questions above the 99% in math in 7th grade and ended up on the math competition team. Math competition? Waste of a spot for a kid who should be writing books. His little brother went through the full Test Prep Math program (4th edition, the one with almost no mistakes) and never scored as low as 99% in any year. Was I right? There are kids who went though 8 years of Kumon and scored higher on the SAT during 8th grade. But my kids learned trig and calculus in just a few sittings. Plus we spent 0 dollars on math and 0 dollars on test prep for high school and 0 time driving to math programs. So there.

The bottom line

My parting advice is to stay focused on the next step and not to worry about grades and test scores until they count. Every child has gaps and weaknesses, such as reluctance to read, need for exercise or social skills or music. If you're going to be at the top of the academic heap, you'll be doing a little bit of extra work every day at home. Focus this work on the next step and the gaps.

3 comments:

  1. I clicked on the new link, but it is redirecting to this site. I tried looking up the site via WHOIS, and I don't see that you've purchased the domain. Are you keeping this site or am I missing something? I like your blog and am reading through your old posts, so I hope that you're not retiring anytime soon.

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    1. Thanks for alerting me. I partially fixed it. The problem is that I have to change some of the settings in blogger to enable https on the new website. You can click the link, but it will only go to http mode and the browser will complain when it gets there. But at least it's readable.

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    2. Got it, that works, thank you. Appreciate your hard work.

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