How do public magnet schools screen very young children for admission?

I understand that this is something that can vary a lot, and is also very susceptible to the human element (one person’s screening can vary a lot from another person’s).

Last year, our three-year-old son tested to get into the local magnet elementary school, which starts at pre-kindergarten. He tested at the age of 3 years and 3 months (“a little young,” we thought while hoping for a Hail Mary), and would have started pre-k at 3 years and 11 months had he been accepted to our school of choice. He was wait-listed, and we were offered a position for him at a different low-attendance magnet school 30 miles away ( :confused: ) .

Anyway. Since our son will be 4 years & 11 months old at the start of the 2011-2012 school year, we decided to let him test for pre-kindergarten once again this winter (screenings are done in December or early January). For better or for worse, we are really banking on him getting admitted. As such, we’d like to do whatever we can in the next few months to increase his chances. We felt like the first time around, our son was still “too baby”, and may not have screened all that well. However, the fact that he was offered a slot elsewhere gives us hope, especially being that he will be about one year older while being tested for the same grade (pre-K).

Our 7-year-old daughter currently attends the desired magnet school, and she passed the entrance screening at the age of 3 years and 9 months. The door was open when she was being screened, and I could see into the room while the screening was taking place. AFAICT, it was strictly oral – the screener basically interviewed her (I wasn’t close enough to hear, only see). I saw no pencils, crayons, or paper. I can’t swear the screener didn’t show her some cards or papers with letter or shaped on them … but I didn’t see any of that myself.

FWIW, I saw no part of my son’s screening.

So … what kind of “interview” might someone give if he/she were screening pre-k students? What kinds of questions may be asked? Might it be the kind of thing for which we can prepare our son since we’ve got about 3 1/2 months lead time? I will be happy to answer specific questions about our son’s abilities and aptitudes that may help guide discussion (from a parent’s-eye view, of course :wink: … I may not be the most reliable reporter).

A little information to go on:

I did find this article helpful, though it pertained to children entering kindergarten, and not pre-kindergarten. Here is the Cliff-Notes version of what a panel of kindergarten teachers felt were early indicators of academic aptitude for pre-schoolers:

Thought I’d give this a bump.

All of the magnet school in my school system (Tucson) let kids into magnet schools solely by lottery. There are lots of magnet schools around here specializing in performing arts, Montessori, Spanish-immersion, science and math, fine arts, technology, etc etc.

You just fill out a form as to your first and second choices and there is a lottery.

Interesting. Well, around here, it’s determined by academic screening. However, there are only so many places open in these schools, so there’s no way they can accomodate all the students that screen well.

Last bump.

Does anyone else have any personal experience with this sort of thing?

We also do it by lottery, plus there is some amount of quota that goes on - kids in the neighborhood get X slots. Minority kids get X slots.

Everything I’ve read says academic testing is hit or miss until 7 or so (we won’t put kids into the G&T program in my district until third grade - they get screened in late second grade - before that, G&T programs are offered, but the kids aren’t officially identified. Our arts school magnet doesn’t start until third or forth grade because before that motor skills develop at different rates.

Our pre-K screening was some puzzles (stack blocks like this…now like this). Some shape, color and letter recognition. They told a story and then had the child answer some summary questions on it. An eye test and hearing test. Some “follow instructions along with fine motor skills evaluation” - i.e. gave them something to color and said “Color the dog brown. Color the sun yellow.”

I sadly know nothing about the content of those tests, but I did see this article a couple of weeks back

perhaps it will provide some help?

And Dangerosa is correct about academic testing at that age. The children are changing quickly and at varying rates, so it isn’t until years latter that their place in class at a given moment is substantially predictive of their ultimate status.