Here’s what we know so far about the scores on the G&T test in NYC for 2013-2104. Scores did go down in general because the NYC DOE added more weight to the OLSAT verbal test, which puts kids who speak multiple languages at a disadvantage. We are currently surveying www.Testingmom.com members and results so far tell us that our members did significantly better than students who didn’t use our preparation materials. After more responses come in, details will follow. Note: click on the images and they’ll get bigger.
TestingMom.com is holding a tele seminar tomorrow night, Sunday, April 6, 2014 at 9 p.m. EST to talk about NYC results and next steps for parents whose kids qualified for G&T and parents whose kids did not qualify for G&T. Feel free to enroll by CLICKING HERE.
In today’s Wall Street Journal, Meghan Cox Gurdon writes about the evolution of “Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever.” If you would like to read the piece at the WSJ website, CLICK HERE. It is a fascinating piece (for those of us who love Richard Scarry’s books). I never thought about how the world had changed from the time he began writing books until now, but of course it has. And mores that were acceptable to all of us in the 50’s and 60’s are no longer the norm! In Richard Scarry’s world, the woman was the nurse and she worked in the kitchen. The man was the soldier and he worked in the fields. That has changed and with it, editors changed his books. A new 50th edition of “Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever” is coming out. According to the author, it’s not as wonderful as the original book. I would absolutely love to get my hands on an original edition and see what she is talking about! Still, if you ask me, there’s nothing like Richard Scarry books for kids!
In my own world of helping children get ready for testing, the one book I invariably recommend to parents is “Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever.” It represents page after page of Richard Scarry putting pictures of things that go together into categories. Analogy is one of the first big thinking concepts that children are expected to master for school and testing (and life and thinking). Richard Scarry books help children “get” this in the most delightful way possible. Enjoy this article and if your child hasn’t yet started a collection of Richard Scarry books, why not start with this new 50th Anniversary Edition of “Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever!”
Scarry Stories for Small Children
Meghan Cox Gurdon celebrates Richard Scarry’s books for busy children.
By Meghan Cox Gurdon
The grown-up world as depicted in children’s books often seems both dull and taxing, a complicated and distant place to which no child with any sense ought to be in a hurry to get. A couple of generations ago, by contrast, the legendary children’s book author and illustrator Richard Scarry made adulthood seem industrious and purposeful, an inviting realm to which children must naturally aspire. Born in 1919, Scarry imbued his cheerful, colorful work with the can-do spirit of mid-20th-century America. His more than 100 picture books are populated by anthropomorphic animals engaged in productive work: billy goats hoeing fields, owls operating lathes, sows baking bread.
Scarry loved to depict tools and machinery in his drawings—combine harvesters, forklifts, trowels, saws and gears. He died in 1994, so he missed the next great blossoming of American ingenuity. With his knack for finding witty, telling details, he might, in time, have slipped smartphones and earpieces into his characters’ possession. That he would have chosen to depict the passivity that technology has brought to the culture—adults with heads bowed and thumbs scrolling in silent thrall, sedentary children living virtually—is harder to imagine. There are no inactive creatures in Scarry’s eventful tableaux, let alone portrayals of indolence or torpor.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the book that made the Boston-born illustrator famous. In the fall of 1963, Golden Press published “Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever” to immediate acclaim. With its large, inviting pages, bright colors and hundreds of droll little drawings, the book introduced young children to the splendid panoply of objects and personalities that they might see in a city, or at the beach or at the airport, as well as to various professions, parts of the body, and shapes and sizes, and to the many types of cars, trucks, ships, planes, trains, foodstuffs, clothes, toys and zoo creatures.
With more than 1,600 labeled objects, the book had, as Leonard Marcus put it in “Golden Legacy,” his 2007 history of the deliberately affordable children’s-books imprint, “the festive atmosphere and compressed design of a theme park.” Scarry’s first best seller offered a commercially successful combination that “translated for parents to good value, and for children to a bounty of worldly possibility to explore.”
Never out of print, “Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever” has sold 4.5 million copies in the U.S., and Random House is marking its half-century anniversary by reissuing it—and other books in the Scarry oeuvre, including “Richard Scarry’s Busy, Busy Town”—with a clean, streamlined design and unifying logo. The anniversary edition is welcome, of course, not least if it brings Scarry to parents or children who may somehow have missed him. But it is a sad fact that the book of 2013 is a bland simulacrum of the original. As a cultural artifact, it shows in sometimes poignant ways how much half a century has wrought in cultural expectations—and perhaps in childhood itself. A young child picking up the new edition may well feel the delight of his counterpart 50 years ago—Scarry’s charm survives the relaunch—but he will have no way of knowing that children in 1963 held a heftier and much richer volume.
The world that Richard Scarry presented in the original edition was excitingly broad and open and chronicled with vivid specificity. Children could pore over pages crowded with labeled pictures of all sorts of birds (the quail, pheasant, wren, bittern), buildings (a cathedral, pyramid, fort, skyscraper), flowers (clover, pansies, asters, foxgloves) and houses (the igloo, grass house, half-timbered house, chalet). These images drew young imaginations up and out, inviting them to appreciate the astonishing variety of things. The labels gave children a kind of mastery over them.
The world as it appears in the 2013 relaunch is narrower in scope and confined to categories already familiar to most little children. Oh, a bunny still works as a cashier at the supermarket, uniformed cats patrol the zoo and we see a tiger cub getting his checkup from a lion-doctor with a hurt tail (the bandage forms a neat bow). But gone are all the vivid and particular birds, plants and buildings, the “Out West” tableau, with its covered wagon, blacksmith and frontier locomotive, and two pages about tidying up one’s house, along with the category of “music making,” which showed animals making merry on instruments such as the bassoon, piccolo, cornet, saxophone and oboe.
Gone, too, are courtly little authorial observations and depictions acceptable in the “Mad Men” era that today would irritate feminists. The “handsome pilot” and “pretty stewardess” who used to work on the passenger jet have been dryly replaced by a “pilot” and “flight attendant.” Two pages dedicated to fire fighting used to show a “brave hero” in fireman’s garb climbing a ladder to save a “beautiful screaming lady.” The drawing is unchanged, but now it is simply a “fire fighter” rescuing a “cat in danger.”
These aren’t sudden changes. Over the years and through ensuing editions, successive editors have tweaked Scarry’s labels and small bits of text to remove traditionalist presumptions and install a more egalitarian, “enlightened” view. A small bear in the original book “comes promptly when he is called to breakfast,” whereas the same bear in the new edition “goes to the kitchen to eat his breakfast,” uncommanded by his parents. The sex of characters has been changed throughout so that males and females aren’t confined to traditional roles.
On the first front cover, a female bunny makes breakfast while her farmer-husband works outdoors; the new book loses the logic of the original by depicting one male-and-female pair in the kitchen and another couple in the field. Driving home the idea that daddies cook too, one of the little piglets helping mother pig in a kitchen scene has been—rather alarmingly, when you think about it—relabeled “father pig.” In a section titled “When You Grow Up,” the (male) soldier has been replaced by a (female) judge. One may be sympathetic or not to the editorial urge to modernize, but the result here is an artifact with less pungency and a lot less information. The new edition has 21 fewer pages than the original and some 360 fewer objects. So while it may still count as “Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever,” it definitely isn’t his most comprehensive. The original is more striking and delightful, whatever you may think of its traditional gender depictions or the retrograde inclusion of “Indian” and “squaw.”
Such terms were, of course, uncontroversial when Scarry got his start in children’s-book illustration shortly after World War II. During the war he had worked for the Morale Services Section of Allied Headquarters in North Africa, illustrating manuals and drawing maps with skills he had developed at art school in Boston. By 1948, he was illustrating ad copy for Simon & Schuster, a job that quickly turned into a contract to create artwork for Golden Books. In his history of the imprint, Leonard Marcus writes that Scarry’s editors found him “round-faced and wide-eyed,” a tall and “meticulously groomed, solemn young man.” It was while pursuing his new career that he met and married Patricia Murphy, an advertising copywriter. Along with their domestic collaboration, the two joined creative forces for picture books, including “The Bunny Book” (1955), a cozy, lovely and still popular paean to the twin joys of work and family.
Scarry was a warm and playful parent, according to his son, Richard “Huck” Scarry, who has perpetuated his father’s legacy by completing unfinished manuscripts as well as producing Richard Scarry-style books of his own. “My father intensely loved what he was doing. His drawings are so fun and funny because he had fun creating them,” Huck Scarry said recently in an email from Switzerland, where Richard moved the family in 1968 after discovering the thrill of downhill skiing. The illustrator was fond of the Mittel-European aesthetic and often added alpine touches to his drawings. The oft-occurring character of Lowly Worm, for example, wears a green Tyrolean hat modeled after one that Scarry bought in 1950.
Poking around his father’s studio not long ago, Huck Scarry—who himself inspired the oft-appearing character of Huckle Cat—discovered a portfolio of unfinished sketches under a table that seemed to form an entire, if unfinished, book about Lowly Worm. He has completed and colored in the undated drawings, which he believes his father created around 1990. Random House plans to publish “The Best Lowly Worm Book Ever” in August 2014. It is an agreeable thing, this discovery, for in our sedentary, touch-screen era, young children surely need the industrious and purposeful animal role models of Richard Scarry’s busy world more than ever.
By interesting coincidence, “Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever” came out at the same time as a very different but also popular and enduring work, Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are.” The two books seem almost, at this remove, to be like the two faces of the era. Whereas the young Sendak went for moody colors, emotional ambiguity and the lurking id, Scarry gave children the friendly assurance that life is pleasant and comprehensible and chock-full of whiz-bang inventions. There is no need to choose between the two authors, of course. But there is every reason to take Scarry’s worldview, for all its sunniness, just as seriously as Sendak’s, and to make Scarry’s books—updated or not—part of every child’s experience.
I wanted to share this story from DNAInfo.com. CLICK HERE to read read the article on their site and to read other related stories.
NEW YORK — The new gifted and talented test isn’t just tough for 4-year-olds — it’s also stumping their parents.
The Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test — which preschoolers have to ace to win one of the city’s coveted public gifted and talented kindergarten seats for fall 2013 — quizzes kids on their spatial reasoning skills, asking them to analyze complex geometrical patterns.
Parents across the city are helping their kids prepare — and must decide if they will request a test by early November — but many said they first had to teach the material to themselves. “I don’t know if I would have been able to figure it out on my own,” said Monica, a Lower East Side mother who is using a test prep guide from TestingMom.com. “If you’ve never done it before, you can find it very difficult.”
The NNAT is an abstract test that asks kids to look at a series of complicated shapes and figure out their pattern, so that they can fill in the missing piece. To solve the visual riddle, the young test-takers have to pay attention to the size and color of the shapes, how they are oriented and how they relate to each other. “There are some questions that many adults might not even be able to answer,” said Janet Roberts, director of education and product development at Aristotle Circle, a test prep and admissions company. “It requires a lot of patience and a certain level of endurance as well. ”
When parents first see a sample Naglieri test, with its rotating triangles and checkered squares, “They typically panic,” Roberts said. “[There’s] a little bit of hysteria.” Aristotle Circle’s NNAT preparation book sold out four times faster than any of the company’s other books this fall, Roberts said.
The Department of Education decided to start using the NNAT this year to replace the Bracken School Readiness Assessment, which covered basics like shapes, numbers and colors. The goal is to test children’s true intellectual ability, rather than their learned knowledge — and to make the test harder to prepare for after more than 1,600 preschoolers earned the top score on the entrance exam for this fall, the DOE said earlier this year.
The glut of top-ranking preschoolers left those and an additional 1,000 high-scoring children vying for just 300 kindergarten seats this fall. The NNAT will comprise two-thirds of each child’s score, while the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test, which examines students’ logic skills, will make up the rest.
Radmila Gordon, a Coney Island resident, has been researching the NNAT for months so that she can prepare her 4-year-old daughter Alisa for the test. “It’s very difficult,” Gordon said. “I don’t know how 4-year-old kids are going to do it.” Alisa is good at puzzles and breezes through the easier questions in the NNAT practice guides, but as soon as the problems get harder, she loses focus, Gordon said.
Ella Sidorenko is having the same challenge in working with her son Max, who is just 3-years-old and will be among the youngest children in his class when he starts kindergarten next year. “The more difficult the questions become, he gets frustrated and starts crying and says, ‘I can’t do it,'” Sidorenko said. “I don’t know if it’s fair for the children.”
Test preparation experts recommend that parents start by teaching basic pattern recognition concepts with hands-on exercises, using puzzles and building blocks. Then kids can gradually move onto more complicated questions in workbooks.
Practice is very important, especially to ensure that kids understand the format of the test and what they are being asked to do, said Karen Quinn, founder of TestingMom.com. “If a child walks in absolutely cold and sees one [of the complicated pattern questions] for the first time, I would say it’s probably too hard for most 4-year-olds,” Quinn said. “Some would [be able to do it], but others would look at it and it would make absolutely no sense.”
Before even explaining the content that will be on the test, parents should make sure their children understand the idea that for every question there is just one right answer, and the kids should try to find that answer, Quinn said.
Bige Doruk, founder of test preparation company Bright Kids NYC, teaches children strategies like breaking down each question into parts and eliminating wrong answers among the multiple-choice options.
“They’re hard because they’re very visually confusing,” Doruk said of the NNAT questions. “There’s a lot going on.”
While Doruk said she has spoken to many parents who are upset about the harder test, she thinks it’s a good way to identify the children who are truly gifted. “We expect a lot from 4-year-olds in New York,” Doruk said. “The idea is that this is not for all kids. Not every child is going to do well.”
Parents who want to apply for a gifted and talented program for the fall of 2013 must submit a Request for Testing form by Nov. 9. The tests will take place in January and early February, and parents will learn their child’s score in April.
Read more: http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20121024/new-york-city/new-gifted-talented-test-so-hard-it-even-leaves-parents-stumped#ixzz2AwS2DJKy
We held an event last night in NYC where I took parents through the different types of questions children might see on the NNAT®2 (or Naglieri) test and OLSAT (or Otis-Lennon School Abilities) Test. The OLSAT has been the test given in NYC for several years, along with the Bracken Test. However, we believe that the NYC DOE is replacing the Bracken with the NNAT2 for gifted and talented qualification to its District and City-wide G&T programs. It has been announced in the NY Times, but the DOE hasn’t officially confirmed it. We expect the announcement to come in October. We do feel this will be the test, but I can’t say 100% for sure until I see it in writing on the DOE’s website.
I put together a handout with several practice questions for the NNAT2 and the OLSAT (the other test given to kids in NYC) so parents could see how challenging these tests can be. To do do well on the NNAT®2 and on certain aspects of the OLSAT, a child has to have strong visual-spatial reasoning skills (the ability to think using shapes and figures rather than words). I have always struggled with these abilities and so, even as an adult, these questions can really confuse me. Although I helped to write our practice questions for this test, I can still got confused when trying to solve them. I even made a mistake on one of the answers I selected for our handout. I wanted to share with you some of the points of my own confusion so that you will see how easily the same thing can happen to a child who is trying to figure these out.
This is called a “pattern matrix” question on the OLSAT (or “serial reasoning” on the NNAT). You’ll find questions like this on the OLSAT for children as young as kindergarteners. They begin for children in first grade on the NNAT. The child is asked, “What belongs in the empty box?” He or she must find a pattern that is occurring in both the rows and columns and determine what figure goes in the empty box to complete the pattern. I noticed that I had said that the second figure was the answer, but when I reviewed the question before my talk, I couldn’t see why the fourth answer might not be right. Finally, my partner reminded me that the center black line doesn’t change in the pattern so the second figure must be correct. Once you “get” that, it seems obvious. But until you see what the rule is, a person can really feel stumped.
This is a Reasoning By Analogy practice question for the NNAT. You find this type of question on so many tests given to young children. The child must determine the relationship that is taking place between the first and second boxes so they can determine which answer belongs in the bottom empty box. As you can see, I got this one wrong when I put the handout together. Looking at it now, knowing the answer, it seems so obvious that B is correct. The relationship happening is – # rectangles on the left, 1 more circle on the right. Since there are 3 rectangles on the left there should be 4 circles on the right. I suppose that when I was writing this handout, I lost track of what the relationship was and saw the rectangles on the left, realized there needed to be 4 on the right, but chose rectangles instead of circles. I knew I was supposed to choose circles, but I guess that I just forgot that in the moment when I selected the answer. I wanted to share this with you in to show you how easy it is for even a grown-up to get tripped up on these questions!
For 100 free practice questions, visit www.TestingMom.com.
The stats are out on this year’s G&T acceptances for NYC. Over 39,300 children took the OLSAT and Bracken tests – the G&T tests the NYC Department of Education gave this year for Kindergarten – 3rd grade placement. Ultimately, 7,562 students who qualified applied for spots. 5,500 kindergarten – 3rd graders were awarded places.
The Bracken is a test first published in 2002 that is currently used in admittance to the New York City Gifted and Talented Program, as well as other G&T programs and private schools around the country.
If your child is taking this test in NYC, there are a few things you’ll want to know. First, it is given with the OLSAT test, which we’ll talk about in a separate video. For children applying to kindergarten, there are 40 OLSAT questions and 88 Bracken questions for a total of 128 questions. If your child is applying to 1st or 2nd grade, there are 60 OLSAT questions and 88 Bracken questions for a total of 148 questions.
The Bracken counts for 25% of a child’s score, while the OLSAT counts for the other 75%. To be eligible for a district G&T program, your child needs a composite score in the 90th percentile or better. To qualify for a city-wide program, your child needs a composite score in the 97th percentile or better, although in recent years, there have only been enough spaces for children scoring in the 99th percentile or above…so 99th percentile is really the score your child is aiming for.
The Bracken test is a school readiness test. It assesses whether or not your child knows basic information that children should have acquired by a particular age. It is the same for Pre-K as it is through 2nd grade. There are no levels. Younger children can miss more questions on the Bracken than older children can miss. At the pre-K level, the Bracken is always given at the same time as the OLSAT. For older children, they are sometimes given separately when they are given in school.
The Bracken assesses five basic skills.
#1. Colors. Make sure you child can identify common colors by name.
#2. Letters. Your child will also have to know all the letters, both upper-case and lower-case.
#3. Numbers & Counting. Your child must be able to identify single AND double-digit numerals and be able to count from 1 to 99.
#4. Size and other comparisons. Your child will have to demonstrate knowledge of comparative words such as short, long, big, bigger, tall, tallest, large, larger, little, tiny, light, or heavy, to name a few. Make sure you child can differentiate or match objects based on other comparative words like narrow, wide, shallow, deep, equal, identical, different, or opposite.
Finally, #6. Shapes. Your child needs to be able to identify basic shapes by name. These would be one-dimensional shapes like square and triangle and 3-dimensional shapes like cylinder, cone and sphere.
For practice questions and more information on the BSRA and other tests, go to www.TestingMom.com.