Monday, May 3, 2010

Kindergarten gifted programs

A couple of months ago, I talked about what I saw as the pernicious practice of IQ tests for entrance into private kindergartens in New York. Well, it's not just private schools. Public kindergartens in New York have gifte programs where they take only kids at the 97th (or in some cases, the 99th) percentile on the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test and the Bracken School Readiness Assessment. There are now tutors to prepare preschoolers for public kindergarten entrance exams.

This is just crazy. Besides the fact that, because "school readiness" by kindergarten age is so closely tied to language development, which is closely tied to socio-economic status, so it's going to be almost all white and Asian kids, the worst thing is that these tests are not reliable at that age. A kids who tests as gifted at age 5 may or may not do that in third grade. In preschool the environmental effects on intelligence test scores are greater than in third grade, and the heritabilty is lower. So determining school entrance by test scores at age 5 is silly, and it's harmful to those who are slower to develop and so get put on a lower track.

I wonder what a gifted kindergarten program would look like. My guess is Title 5 child care, with a group size of 20, plus reading and sitting still longer. No, in the public schools, it's probably more academic.
To be clear, I am not against gifted programs. I personally benefited from them, based on test scores, as did my partner and my offspring. I like smart kids being put with other smart kids. I just don't think it is useful to start it in kindergarten.
And to compare this with my previous post this morning, we are making kindergarten too hard for some kids, so we are raising the entrance age in case some kids aren't ready for first-grade curriculum, and we are starting gifted programs for kids who are highly ready.

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