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Kindergarten Screening Tests
Q: We just received the results of our six-year-old son's kindergarten screening, and he scored in the lower portion of average. This really surprised us because his pre-K teacher from last year told me that she believed that he was gifted. We know that he is a very bright boy because he is already reading on his own, can add numbers, is great at spelling, and has an incredible vocabulary. What could be some possible reasons for the discrepancy?
A: Don't be concerned with this test score. Kindergarten screening tests are not extremely reliable testing instruments. This occurs for several reasons. The test may be developed locally and not even test what it says it tests. The administrators of these tests are frequently inexperienced and may have had little or no training in giving the test. Perhaps, the biggest reason that these test scores are not too meaningful is because young children are simply not good test takers. Most have never been in a testing situation before. Imagine how stressful it is for a young child to be confronted by a stranger and asked to do a variety of tasks, including some they have never done previously. And of course, they don't realize that it is important for them to do their best on these tests.
One single test should never determine the placement of a child in a school program or produce a label for a child. Tests should always be just part of the evaluation picture for any school situation. In your son's case, the opinion of his pre-K teacher is very important. This individual had the opportunity to see your son for a year or more and observe how well he was able to handle pre-kindergarten learning. Her opinion should certainly be more accurate, and you should consider it to be a truer picture of your son's ability. Plus, you say that he is already reading and adding on his own. Low average children who are entering kindergarten simply do not have these capabilities.
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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.