SAT Prep in Kindergarten

The headmaster at my boys’ school recently sent home a letter discussing standardized testing prep. My sons are in pre-K and their school only goes up to eighth grade so I was wondering why she is even concerned with SAT prep for any of her students. She mentioned the SAT 10. I know what the SAT is but I guess I’ve been out of school for too long because I had to do an internet search to find out what the SAT 10 is. Turns out it’s the latest version of our old friend, the SAT. But in the course of my research, I found this site which offers test prep for kids as young as Kindergarten.

I know now that my boys’ school starts prepping kids in the 2nd grade for standardized testing, including the SAT 10. Perhaps I’m showing my age here but I do not recall knowing anything about the SAT until about a month before I had to take it. The extent of my prep was buying a book at the local book store and using it for a coaster. And if I remember correctly, I even forgot my two number 2 pencils on test day.

So my questions are

  1. Are there any parents out there whose children have been exposed to test prep at such an early age?
  2. Was I just unprepared when I went to school? Did I have peers prepping for these tests and I just didn’t know about it?
  3. Is it so competitive to get into college these days that kids have to start prepping for the entrance exams at age 5?

SAT 10 is part of the “Stanford Achievement Test” series of tests, and has absolutly nothing to do with the SAT (administered by the College Board) that you took in high school. These tests are designed for general skill levels of all ages from around 6 to around 15, as I recall.

My school district used them at the end of, I think, 2nd and 5th grade as I recall. Some districts use them every year.

You have a “headmaster”–not a school principal? * That sounds like, totally,so…preppy. I assume you are paying big bucks for a private school.
When you were a kid, and blissfully unaware of the SAT, weren’t your parents equally unaware of the word “headmaster”?

If you want to get into Ivy league universties, it probably helps to have the kid learn to take SAT tests starting in nursery school. But if you want your kid to enjoy life, I’d relax a bit on the pressure for academic statistics. Your state university ain’t so bad…

*(I assume you are in America, not England, where headmaster is the standard term)

It would not surprise me if some of your peers were more aware of the need to prep for the SAT than you were.

And now for the really bad news (In my opinion–and as I’m not a parent or an educator, I may be ill-informed). Administering standardized tests is becoming a much larger part of schooling even small children than it used to be. College admission is part of that, although I’m not really sure that college admissions have become significantly more competitive. Another part of it, (and inspired by a poster above, I’ll throw in an “Assuming you are in the U.S.”) is No Child Left Behind and various programs at state and local levels dedicated to figuring out whether teachers are effective. In order to measure both the skills of the children, and the skills of the educators, frequent standardized testing is required.

And so, yes, I can imagine a 2nd grader recieving instructions on how to properly fill in bubbles, when guessing is good/not so good and even study skills helps.

None of these are inherently bad, but they do help add up to a situation where one wonders when the teacher is supposed to teach, if s/he’s spending X hours teaching “say no to drugs” Y hours teaching other social skills, Z hours prepping for a standardized test, Q hours administering the standardized test, etc.

I am in the US and I do pay big bucks for a private school. And even though I didn’t start prepping for the SAT in kindergarten, I went to an Ivy League school. I wasn’t asking because I wanted to get my kids involved in test prep because I really don’t think it’s necessary at this age. I was just curious as to why such young children were being exposed to standardized test prep when they will probably only take two or three throughout the course of an education.

You are correct (as confirmed by this entry in wikipedia).

I was not exposed to these tests in school - I must have gone to some pretty crappy schools in my day!

Kids take standardized tests every school year beginning in at least grade 3 - boatloads of 'em. While I don’t post this as a defense of test prep in kindergarten, kids take way more than two or three standardized tests. My son just got done with two full weeks of nothing but standardized tests - the ISATs (Illinois Standardized Achievement Test, I believe).

Frankly, I think test prep classes themselves are dishonest and downright cheating. If an exam doesn’t accurately test what a student knows, then it’s a bad test. If we know it’s a bad test, it can be changed. We won’t KNOW they are bad tests as long as these prep classes exist to teach kids how to “beat” the test, not learn the information. My prep class in high school, for example, taught to not leave any marks blank, to go with our first guess, not to change and answer, and mark “b” if we weren’t sure, because at the time it was the most common correct response. Oh, and to eat saltines before the test to spike our brain’s available carbohydrates. :rolleyes: What did any of that have to do with whether or not we knew how to formulate a coherent sentence? They actually had us practice coloring in circles and graded us on the proper shading of our pencilmarks to the shade best recognized by the grading machine. And damn if their students didn’t score a few more points on their post-test than their pre. Didn’t mean they knew any more, just that they knew, literally, how to take the test better.

But since so much of school funding is tied up in standardized test scores, and those tests start very young, I understand why they want to indoctrinate kids early and often in how to get higher scores. I just think it’s a short-sighted approach.

WhyNot I usually agree with you but I think you’re wrong in this. I’ve been a super test taker from the word go (the 60’s anyway) and thought everyone used the techniques I used, some of which you described. I got full ride scholarship offers to college back in the day based solely on how well I did on the SAT’s (mediocre HS grades). I totally blew the SAT’s away based on using some of the techniques that are taught now. I was amazed when talking to other students who didn’t use these techniques and did poorly on the Sat’s. These were good students who did way better than I did in HS (I’m thinking about my Chem lab partner in particular here). Test taking is an art and with all the crap based on test scores these days you need to know the tricks of the trade to succeed.