Would you pay for private testing? — The Bump
School-Aged Children

Would you pay for private testing?

Okay, so I know every parent thinks their child is "advanced" and I don't want it to come across that way but here goes. (sorry this was longer than I anticipated)

Our schools district has a variety of programs for advanced learning. Each year students take a Measurement of Academic Progress (MAP) test and depending on how they score they are eligible to take part in the advanced learning programs. The highest program, APP, requires a score of 95% on math and reading. If your child doesn't score at 95% on the MAP score you have the option to pay for private testing and "appeal" the decision.

So, we just got DD's scores and she scored 96% for math and 88% for reading. A friend was over when we got these, and her daughter is a year older than DD and currently enrolled in the APP program. According to my friend, DD (in kindergarten) is currently reading at the same level her daughter was reading when she started first grade. So she really questions the 88% score and thinks we should look into the private testing.

I don't know what to think, and even if DD does retake the test and scores at 95% I'm not sure we'd send her through the APP program. It's at a different school that isn't in our neighborhood, it is questionable that she and DS would go to the same school (unless he tested in too), she likes her current school, etc. But we also want her to get the best education she can.

So, with all that information, would you opt for private testing? I should add this isn't the only year she could test in. They'll be restested next year and if she scores 95% next year we could move her into the APP program the following year.

Re: Would you pay for private testing?

  • Hello -- fellow mom of two academically advanced kiddos here.  No worries about calling it like you see it with your kid.  A GT kid is GT in academics only.  My "GT" kid reads at a college level, but loses her shoes every day and can't ride a 2 wheeler at age eleven.

    Ultimately, this is a decision only you can make.  Much depends on your child, the school, the willingness of the teacher to differentiate, and a zillion other factors that are hard to convey in a board post.

    However, I will share my experience with you, and maybe it will help you make your decision.

    In our school district, all kids take the GT test in grade 2.  From those results, the school decides if your child is eligible for special programs. What constitutes "special programs" depends greatly on the individual school.  In 3rd grade, kids can apply for a magnet program that begins in 4th grade.  Applicants take an even more rigorous, selective test; write an essay; and get teacher recommendations.  If they get in, kids transfer to a different elementary school that may be as much as 45 minutes from their home elementary school.

    My DD was reading independently by age 4 and has a vocabulary that has often caused her to get hard stares in public.  When they did the initial reading assessment in kindergarten, the teacher said they had never tested a 5 year old with such a high a reading level.  In fact, they didn't even have a real measurement of her reading level because they didn't bring testing materials for those grades to the kindergarten assessments. 

    When she was in grades K and 1, I felt fairly satisfied with her school experience, even though she wasn't particularly challenged by the academics.  Much of the learning in these grades is social, and she did have some gaps in her knowledge and skills (mostly related to writing) that were filled in during these years.  Her particular grade also happened to have a greater-than-usual number of very bright kiddos, so there were enough kids to make a reading and a math group that could be pushed.  In 2nd grade, the principal put these kids with a fantastic teacher who was willing to really accelerate them. 

    The 2nd grade GT test showed that she qualified for special services.  Unfortunately at her school, the best they had was math and reading groups that were a year above grade level.  There was no pull-out program.  By 3rd grade, it became clear that "above grade level" was not meeting her needs.  She was actually starting to dislike school.  At age 8, she was socially aware enough to not want to always be regarded as the "smart kid."  I watched in horror as my bright kid started to shut down.  We knew she needed to apply to the magnet program, even though this would take her away from friends she had made, and even though this would put her and her brother in two different schools.

    She got into the magnet, and it was one of the BEST things that's happened to her.  She really thrived, she made new friends easily, and began to love school again.  She's now in the middle school magnet and has her sights set in the IB program for high school.

    I would see if you can observe the magnet school.  How different is it from the regular kindergarten or 1st grade program?  Do you feel your daughter's needs are basically being met by her current school and that GT education would be bonus, or do you feel like she's really not thriving?  Does she stick out like a sore thumb in her current class? Does she have trouble with peers because she wants to play scientist while the other kids are playing dolls?  This can be an issue for GT kids in primary grades.

    If you feel she's not thriving, maybe pay for private testing.  If you feel like she's basically benefiting from the social/emotional lessons of regular primary grades, maybe wait until testing time next year and see what happens.

    HTH and good luck! 

    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
  • Oh MAP testing! Don't get me started on MAP. I know the school I work at uses the same readers and writers curriculum as the north end app school. They do teach a year or two ahead in math. Do you like your neighborhood school? Than stay! I seriously think think the school i work at does just as good as the app school does as far as differentiation and meeting the needs of all students. I really think that a lot of these parents just want this extra special badge of app honor. The MAP test is a joke! www.saveseattleschools.blogspot.com to read more about the downfalls of MAP testing.
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  • Thaks neverblushed and joenali. To answer some questions, the APP program basically teaches two years ahead so I think it is fairly different than the regular program. Her basic needs are most definitely being met now, but I don't feel like she's really being challenged much. But she loves the school, her class, and her teacher (although I have reservations about her teacher). She is pretty shy, but I'd say she seems to be thriving and making friends as I'd expect given her shy personality. And doesn't stick out at all. At home she is more than happy to play with DS doing trains, cars, tea party, but also does like to do science experiments. So in most social regards she is your normal 5 year old. And a BIG plus to her neighborhood school is it is fairly diverse. We live in a homogeneous neighborhood in a rather homogeneous city, but her school has a bilingual program which makes it much more diverse than most other schools in the area.

    Joenali, do you have any thoughts on the Spectrum program? She tested into that, but I have more reservations with that than I do with the APP program. I've heard differing thoughts on whether or not they really teach more advanced things than normal classrooms, and don't like that the Spectrum program is completely segregated from the rest of the school. DH thinks (and I'm leaning towards agreeing) that at least for now her current school is great as long as we're supplementing at home if we feel she needs to be challenged more (for instance her favorite thing to do in the car is math problems!).

  • If they use readers and and writers It is completely differentiated. I have a first grader reading at a 4th 5th grade level. And I conference with individual kids and give them what they need at that time. I also pull flexible strategy groups based on need. We are considered an ALO school which is another joke. I often hear parents say their kid is bored and not challenged at my school.. And that makes me laugh. A kid in my class is never done there is always work to do. Ask your child straight up and see wHat she says. I had a student recently whose parents said their kid was bored. We asked him if he was and he said he just didn't want to do anything. Big difference!! I look around at my students and I do not see boredom! And I do try to challenge. I like you agree that it's weird to have spectrum separated. That is one reason we chose a south end choice school for ss and not the neighborhood school. Sorry about formatting on my iPhone! ETA: to be honest my coworkers and I laugh at how so many kids get into app and spectrum. Its almost like they let anybody in because they don't want a lawsuit. Also keep in mind your kiddo is 5 they change and grow so much, even between k and first. If she is happy and loves her school at this point it should be enough for you and your family.
  • Thanks Joenali. My friend was laughing at how many people get in too. I guess people line up private testers in October, anticipating that their kid won't meet the criteria in the MAP and COGAT tests.

    I've asked DD and she said she is bored sometimes. She's reading at a Level G, so ahead but not leaps ahead. When asked whether it's because she doesn't like the work, doesn't want to do the work, or the work is too easy she says its because the work it too easy.  However I know if asked she would rather stay at her current school.

    I think part of it may be her teacher who doesn't seem to be very proactive in making sure each kid is getting what they need. She's been there forever and somewhat act like she's biding her time until retirement. Hearing stories from other parents about what their teacher is doing/communicating has really made me realize what DD's class is lacking.

  • FWIW, "reading" at a certain level / certain books and UNDERSTANDING what you are reading is not the same thing.  DD's school has become a very huge advocate of reading at the appropriate level for your skills / comprehension.  That is difficult b/c kids want to read what their friends are reading, have already read certain books in a series - - but the teachers point out that, when questioned the kids don't demonstrate an understanding the material.

    I'm not saying this is true for your DC, but don't compare their reading skills just because they pick up the same books.

  • imageSueBear:

    FWIW, "reading" at a certain level / certain books and UNDERSTANDING what you are reading is not the same thing.  DD's school has become a very huge advocate of reading at the appropriate level for your skills / comprehension.  That is difficult b/c kids want to read what their friends are reading, have already read certain books in a series - - but the teachers point out that, when questioned the kids don't demonstrate an understanding the material.

    I'm not saying this is true for your DC, but don't compare their reading skills just because they pick up the same books.

    Thanks, that is a good point.  We weren't comparing books but rather the levels the teacher says they are/were at based on the Scholastic Reading Guide Level Chart.

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