Background story, though it’s not necessary to post advice:
My SO’s little sister and my future SIL is a 7th grader (they’re 10 years apart). She’s very gifted in math, which I stumbled upon last year when she asked me for help with a bonus math question. After some probing I realized she was quite gifted in math, more so than I am (just a Calc tutor in college - nothing out of the ordinary on the 'dope but obviously warranting a gifted class in a public school). The district had pretty clearly fucked up somewhere by not testing her. Handwringing ensued and the district agreed to test her - and sprung the test on her without warning, the day after she’d had multiple other tests. Kid has text anxiety and still tested gifted - but barely. After we demanded retest (with at least 2 days of notification, so she could be mentally ready like the other kids had been) she tested well into the gifted class, but just a few weeks before the school year started we were told she wasn’t allowed to be in the gifted class this year because - get this - you have to get all A’s the previous year - not just quarterly grades, but on all tests :smack::smack::smack:. She’d gotten a couple B+ tests but still had all quarterly A’s. I was livid. She’s been good and gotten all A’s on her tests this year in the effort to get into next year’s gifted class but is bored because - guess what? We covered all of this material over the summer in 6 weeks in anticipation that she’d be in the gifted program this year.
Then she brings home a history assignment on a sheet where the history teacher has written that a few people were emperors who…weren’t. SO is a history major and appalled at the shallowness her assignments.
Her English teacher is a moron; disgustingly enough she has an A in the class but her reading comprehension writing skills are probably not even at grade level. Mom is an English phD and is extremely worried, both at her subpar performance and at the fact she has an A in the class. She’s seen her papers corrected by the teacher with other grammatical errors. We think she may be giving the whole class A’s and B’s. When we asked her: “Do you think you’re as good at math as you are at English?” “no, of course not” “Then do you think you deserve an A in English?” “Ummm…probably not”. Another colleague of hers with a child in the school has also voiced concerns about the English department.
To add insult to injury it’s a blue ribbon school. There’s clearly been a loss of good talent in the 10 years since the SO attended the same school. It looks like they really succumbed to grade inflation pressure from parents that was a hot topic when the SO graduated.
We talked (the SO, me and their mom) about her options. SO’s mom moved there for the district and was initially very resentful of the idea of “private” school - but in the last month she’s been furious with the English teacher’s phoning-it-in performance and sees the private schools as her only option (parochial is out of the question, they’re firmly UU/agnostic). The SO is very strongly in favor of trying to get her into a private school and they both sought my opinion on her strongest subject, math. I agree we should - because she is willing herself - prepare to get her into a private school, including applying like crazy for scholarships, crossing our fingers and hope for the best.
We asked her thoughts on the idea - she likes her friends (duh, she’s 12) but she’s also started to acknowledge how “bored” she is in school. She’s understanding that little to no homework in the 7th grade isn’t normal, that she isn’t being challenged. Her teachers aren’t listening to her and she’s becoming disgruntled herself at the slow pace of every single one of her classes. Class sizes are swelling due to rentership in the district.
So she’s become a lot more receptive to the idea of going elsewhere for her 9th grade year. She got even more excited when she heard my brother had a 2 week spring break. She said some of the “most fun” she had in ages was last summer, doing math with me (preparing for what we thought would be her entrance into the gifted math class this year). She would give up going to the pool and laying around the house; she would call and ask me a few times a week if I had “a couple of hours to do math”. Luckily my work schedule over the summer is flexible and I would work as she did problems.
She no longer says she has favorite classes, “because classes are easy.” She has favorite subjects, which she likes to engage each of us separately (me, math and science, the SO history and her mother English and Literature). She wants to be an engineer and has talked with her mother’s friends who are engineers.
So, what do we need to do to prepare her for the grueling entrance process? What books should she be reading? What websites should we be visiting for scholarship information (we’re already apprised of the situation at the various schools; we think through financial aid (single parent household) and academic scholarship she has a good shot). She’s hispanic, so we’ve got that in our favor. In spite of being just an average student in reading and writing (although her transcript makes her look like a star), many minority students at the schools we’re looking at have been given scholarships based on their high performance in one or two subject areas, most often math and science.
Please don’t post and say that she’s a bright kid and should stay in a failing school or that I’m being unfair to teachers/the public school system/beetle juice. We’ve analyzed this whole situation for a year now and have carefully thought out the upsides and downsides and we’ve tried to engage the school district on numerous occasions.
The only question remaining is how to best go about the whole process and how to cover all of our bases.
Please post any and all advice on how to prepare her for the culture shock of public to private school, what reading/writing she should be doing in advance, scholarship opportunities for hispanics, etc. Any tips on what books/websites/sources you used to prep for the ISEE would be helpful as well; there aren’t many Amazon reviews on the top books.