My son and I walk into a local enrichment company for a brief assessment on his math skills. This was the first step in having him do math over the summer. Since I don’t enjoy doing math and his father works long hours, this was our solution to the “summer slip” this year. My son is not struggling with math but just like any skill, take 3 months off and it gets a little rusty.
We walk in and the woman at the counter gives us a form to fill out. It seemed to be standard procedure until this conversation:
For your reference:
Enrichment- pulled out from classroom and do work put together by teacher. It’s usually higher level thinking work.
HM- Honors Math
PI- Honors English
PI+- Gifted program that encompasses all subjects.
“What programs is your son in at school?”
“He’s in Honors Math and PI.”
“Why isn’t he in PI+ program?”
“Oh, well his scores don’t fit the matrix to get in”
“We can get him in that program.”
I am fortunate to be in a district that offers levels in subjects starting in elementary. Braden was put in a Kindergarten enrichment class in preschool. He continued in enrichment for both reading/math in all his years until the honors classes started up in 3rd grade. He has been tested and accepted into the Northwestern talent and development school for gifted learners. We did no prepping for these programs, they just happened.
“I’m not sure the program is a fit for us”
“The PI+ program is the best education in the district; don’t you want the best for your child? My children are in that program and it is excellent. We can work with your son and get him in.”
I know that the PI+ program is for the gifted kids in our district, but according to their testing matrix, my son is not a fit. My sons standardized test scores can be submitted for Mensa, but does not qualify him for our districts gifted program. It’s that competitive.
My son goes back for the assessment but I already know that this place isn’t a fit. As I sit there, children come in and go back to their lessons but instead of looking at them as my sons peers, I now see them as his competition.
Are they all working towards getting into these programs? Are these programs filled with children who have been tutored to test in? I’m not saying that all the children in the programs have done this but it must happen otherwise it wouldn’t have been a “selling point” to me.
As I sit there I notice the company’s accolades on the wall
“95 % of kids who take our courses get into the top 10% of colleges”
Maybe these parents think that the gifted program is the first step into college. How is test prepping at this age any different than the SAT or ACT prep classes held for high school students that promise “a 5 point increase after this course.”
I just sit there and feel conflicted. I know that they could get him into the program but prepping my son to get into a program that he doesn’t naturally fall into doesn’t feel right.
We leave to never return.
School starts back up in a week. My son did do some math online this summer but nothing formal or scheduled, just whenever I remembered. I know there is some rust that has grown, but I’m ok with that. And while some children will start the year off with a breeze, he’ll just have to work a little harder to catch up. I think that has value too.