Saturday, April 6, 2013

89 is One Point Away From Societal Validation

A couple of months ago, Ari took the Gifted and Talented test for placement in Kindergarten.
The test is administered by New York City Department of Education. We traveled to an elementary school in Williamsburg and I waited for an hour while he was quizzed by a stranger. 

Yesterday, I got an email saying that the results were in.

I anxiously opened the email wondering what lovely things it might say about my child.

It said:


It said "Based on the above criteria, your child is not eligible to apply for placement in a Gifted & Talented program."

If he had scored a 90, Ari would have been "eligible to apply for placement in a Gifted & Talented program."

He was one point away.

When I saw those two numbers, I got angry.

I was angry that the Department of Education was telling me that my son was not "gifted and talented" because I know that (quite the contrary) no matter what a series of tests says, Ari is a bright child.

Ari has impressive visual spatial skills. He is an amazing artist and architect. As his Pre-K teacher tells me, he builds formidable structures with Magnatiles and blocks.

I could go on about how smart and cool my kid is.

I got to thinking, what gives this arbitrary test the right to determine which children are bright(er) than others? Why do we (as a society) rely so heavily on these tests to separate out certain children from the rest?

Shouldn't we be telling all our children that they are gifted and talented in some way?

I'm not sure why I decided to let Ari take the test. Perhaps I wanted the Department to Education's validation that yes, my son is bright.

But ultimately it's not necessary. I believe in my son. Wherever he goes to school he will shine and that's what's most important.


  1. I would be beyond angry over that one point. How frustrating! Can he re-test? Do you fear that his abilities will diminish or be overlooked in a regular private school setting? I wonder if Oregon has any programs like that? Probably not. I'm worried Tahira will be bored to death in school and get into a lot of trouble...or be labeled ADHD or ADD or something simply because she's so awfully bored. Have you considered homeschooling?

  2. I'm seriously considering homeschooling. And yeah, that's exactly what I'm worried about, he'll be bored in a school that's not creative.

  3. That sort of reminds me of this thing i read recently about how kids that haven't spoken 1-2 words by 12 months should be evaluated for speech therapy. Kineret didn't talk til she was 2 and now she won't shut up! Standardized tests just don't work because there are kids who are above and beyond smart that just don't conform.

    Do you know what school you are going to send him to? Mendel just enjoys the structure and constant stimulation parts of the day. It gives him something to do and focus on so he's not sitting around at home being bored by having to entertain himself (or have someone do it for him). I love school. I wish there was MORE school.

  4. Bummer! He obviously is a little smartypants though! Maybe he'll have to crawl around in the muck like the rest of us plebs ;-P

  5. when my son was in elementary school, they tested him for the AIG classes...found out later that he "failed" the test on purpose because he didn't like the teacher! After finally meeting her, I couldn't blame him. She was hateful. I had been prepared to insist on retesting until I spoke with her and felt my child completely shut down during that 10 minute conversation. After walking away, I thought to myself, "There is no way he will learn anything from her if he reacts that way even when I'm there with him." So, I encourage him to learn things on his own. The last they tested him in elementary school, his reading skills were on college level. He will be able to take courses in high school that will count toward college despite not being in AIG classes right now.

    I just read your most recent post about not having a school for Ari this fall...and public school at that! Unreal. And we wonder what is wrong with this's crazy that we don't have "room" for our children to have a school and that people have to jump through hoops in order to find a school for their child. Sending good thoughts your way that things will fall into place soon.

  6. It's just absurd the standards that we put these kids up to. Clearly your son is super bright :). Awww thanks Tina! xo

  7. Ha ha ha! I'm sure no matter where he ends up, he'll be in good hands.

  8. My kid did "well" - but that's the thing - it's really completely meaningless (how one kid does at age FOUR on one test determines how well they'll do academically for LIFE? It's complete nonsense). I wish he hadn't taken the test either - do you know how many parent's hired coaches, etc., and drilled their kid for a YEAR beforehand? Getting an 89 without any test prep means he's a very, very smart kid - the ones who are getting 99s are very often getting coached - it's unrealistically inflated. Not only that - but there's no guarantee a kid who "qualifies" will get into any the programs anyway! I'm beyond frustrated by the whole process and wish we'd never taken it either. Can you tell? Anyway, you know your kid and you know he's smart:)

  9. Aw! Thanks Ali! That's exactly right about it not being an accurate predictor of anything. All it shows is how well the kid takes this particular test.


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