Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Should My Gifted Kid Take Out of Level Tests?

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Yesterday morning I received this note: I was wondering if you could give me some of your thoughts on the EXPLORE test. My daughter brought home a brochure from NUMATS, offering the EXPLORE test. I was wondering if you saw any value in doing this test so early. She's only in 4th grade, and I understand that the test is for 8th graders for placement in high school. Would you do it at this age? What's the point? Will it only stress her out?
As I went to answer her, I recalled that I've already written about this issue. These tests aren't good or bad, it's a matter of why your child would take them and what you might do with the info. For example, when you realize that your third grader is academically in line with the average 8th grader and you've already maxed out your district's enrichment offerings? It's more of a bummer than a delight, IMO.

At this old Momformation post, I shared reasons why out-of-level testing, that is testing that compares them to older students, can be useful. It helped convince the school to put my older son in a more advanced math class. Scores may be needed for the child to enter certain enrichment programs.

Then again, whoever provides the test probably has some advanced pricey math classes that your child will qualify for once the results are in. (Sorry, I'm cynical like that.)

My older son typically tests well and does not get stressed out by these tests. Indeed, now that he's in 8th grade, some of his friends are really worried about EXPLORE, but it's old hat to him.

And when young students take the ACT or SAT, their scores don't "count" for college, so it's good practice for later in high school. This fall my son has received a few invitations to apply for scholarships at a handful of boarding schools as a result of last year's test scores.

To be clear, he hasn't actually received a scholarship offer, but I do have a friend who's son got one for a private high school in their city.

As the parent, if you have a reason for your child to take it-- mainly school placement or entrance to a program-- then I'd say sign him or her up.


Asianmommy said...

Thanks so much for the info, Kim. I didn't realize that these tests could have that kind of impact. My daughter tells me that she wants to take the EXPLORE test, which is kind of a surprise to me. She was very nervous about taking the ISAT last spring, and I thought she might not want to do this.

Carine said...

Your comments and experience are so interesting. I have a 4 year-old who's gifted and we are having issues with his school. I'm afraid he is getting stressed out about school and that this experience might impact his future negatively. I'm even considering taking him to a psychologist to help him. Any advice or references would be greatly appreciated.