4-Year-Olds Still Prep for Private School Test, Even if No Longer Required, by Amy Zimmer

Amy Zimmer did an excellent job capturing the latest when it comes to testing and test prep for NYC private schools for the 2014-2015 school year. Things are still very much in the air. Look for more schools to announce what they will be doing in the coming weeks and months. As Amy said, there will be more informal testing done during school visits than before, plus many parents will go ahead and have their child take the ERB even though many schools will say that it is optional. To read this article at the DNAinfo website, CLICK HERE.

MANHATTAN — A high-stakes admissions test for private school will no longer be required across the board as it has been for decades — but that won’t stop families signing up to take it, parents and education experts said.

The Independent Schools Admissions Association of Greater New York — a coalition that counts nearly 140 of the area’s private schools as members — recently told schools that they could decide whether to continue requiring applicants to take the ERB, as it’s commonly called.

The relaxation of the demand is based on concerns that youngsters were over-preparing for the $568 exam, school insiders said.

But since some schools have chosen to keep the ERB as a requirement for kindergarten admission and others are making it optional, parents are still feeling pressure to prepare their kids and sign them up for the test, experts said.

Families tend to apply to 12 schools on average since admissions rates are so low, and odds are good that at least one of those schools will require the ERB.

“Now it makes it harder for parents, not easier, because if some of the schools to which you would like to apply require it — even one — your child is going to have to take that test,” said Victoria Goldman, an education consultant and author of “The Manhattan Family Guide to Private Schools.”

Even families that only apply to schools where the ERB is optional will likely still take the test, she said, to prevent the schools from assuming the child did poorly on the test and that’s why no score was submitted.

Some schools have begun announcing their decisions on the ERB, and more are expected to do so soon as they gear up for April school tours and as ERB testing begins for students starting kindergarten in the fall of 2015.

The test evaluates kids on verbal and non-verbal skills, including vocabulary and identifying patterns, in a one-to-one setting over 40 to 50 minutes.

One school that will continue requiring the ERB is the elite Riverdale school Horace Mann.

The school issued a statement on its website, explaining that the ERB score was only part of a child’s application but “the only piece of the application that is consistent and objective for our applicants.”

At Downtown’s Léman Manhattan Preparatory School, the ERB will be optional starting this year, said Drew Alexander, the head of school.

“If a parent wishes to invest in the test and include [it] in their child’s application, they are at will to do so,” Alexander said. “However, we are cognizant of the fact that these are 5-year-old children and look at so much more than a test score during the admission process.”

Like many other elite private schools that have long required the ERB, Léman also does a more qualitative assessment of prospective students, including interviews with families and recommendations from preschools. Many also observe students during a formal “playdate.”

“Now the interview piece is going to be more probing,” Goldman said of the schools that are no longer requiring the ERB.

She is concerned that “a consistently inconsistent” process would be even more stressful on 4-year-olds who will likely be subjected to longer in-school evaluations in place of the ERB.

Karen Quinn, best-selling author of “Testing for Kindergarten” and co-founder of online test prep service TestingMom.com, worried that families will feel burdened by the options.

“If [parents] are applying to schools that still want the ERB, many parents will feel they need to prepare their kids for the ERB and for some kind of unknown testing — which is more prep than they had to do in the past,” she said.

An Upper East Side mother of a 4-year-old boy, who plans to apply to the UN International School and the World Class Learning Academy and who asked not to be named, said she was still prepping her son for the ERB and recently bought TestingMom’s $297 IQ Fun Park.

“We will prepare for ERB as much as we can,” the mother said, “by reading more books, continue doing puzzles, play the IQ game [and] hope for the best.”

ERB Test is Going Away in NYC – What Does It Mean?

Here is a great piece in the NY Times about how NYC parents feel about the ERB test going away. CLICK HERE to read it at the NY Times website. My feeling is…don’t celebrate too quickly. The schools will replace it with some assessment (to be decided) and some schools will stick with the old test. My prediction is that kids will end up taking more tests rather than fewer to qualify for private school after the ERB goes away. Only time will tell!

Your 4-Year-Old Scored a 95? Better Luck Next Time

When other preschool parents bragged that their children had aced the admission test for New York City private schools with a top score of 99 in every section, Justine Oddo stayed quiet. Her twin boys had not done as well.

“It seemed like everyone got 99s,” recalled Ms. Oddo as her sons, now 7, scampered around a playground near Fifth Avenue. “Kids you thought weren’t that smart got 99s. It was demoralizing. It made me think my kids are not as smart as the rest of the kids.”

Her sons’ scores? Between them, they had one 99 and the rest 95s, which would still put them in the top 5 percent of all children nationwide.

A decision last week by a group of private schools to move away from the test, commonly known as the E.R.B., will spare many 4- and 5-year-olds from a rite of New York childhood that dates back half a century. But it could also bring an end to a particular New York status symbol — a child with knockout scores — and to the uncomfortable conversations that occur each year when results start rolling in.

From the Upper East Side to Brooklyn, score-dropping in playdates and parks is common, with high marks flaunted by the parents of children who excel with 99s and anguished over by those who have to explain anything less.

One wealthy couple even celebrated their daughter’s 99s by throwing a catered bash at their Hamptons home with their closest preschool friends, said Bige Doruk, founder of Bright Kids NYC, which prepares several hundred children for the test every year. “I was thinking to myself, ‘What are they going to do when their kid gets into their school of choice?’” she said.

On urbanbaby.com, the Web site where parents chat about their children, the ubiquitous 99s prompted one person to question whether that score was really special since “they seem to be a dime a dozen.” In response came complaints of rampant test-prepping and outright lying.

At the other end of the scale, some parents are quick to offer excuses for a relatively low score: their child was sick, tired or having a bad year. Amanda Uhry, founder of Manhattan Private School Advisors, said that one mother tried to explain away her daughter’s 68 by saying she had been bullied in preschool. “Whether it’s the E.R.B. or sports, parents see their kids as an extension of themselves,” Ms. Uhry said. “It reflects on them. They think, ‘What did I do wrong?’”

All this has led many private schools to try to discourage parents from comparing E.R.B. scores. Some have even likened it to one’s salary — the less said, the better. At the Mandell School, which has a preschool and kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school on the Upper West Side, administrators suspected that a few parents were actually inflating numbers in conversation. “We felt particularly ardent about the damage that that kind of information could do,” said Gabriella Rowe, the head of school at Mandell, which stopped requiring the E.R.B. for admission in 2010.

Last week the Independent Schools Admissions Association of Greater New York, which represents more than 140 private schools, cited concerns that scores had been inflated by widespread test preparation and thus was no longer an accurate measure of ability. It said that it would stop recommending its members use the test as an entry requirement after next year, though a new assessment is expected to be developed in its place. Most schools in the group are expected to follow the recommendation.

The test, a version of an exam known as the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence, consists of two sections: verbal (which includes vocabulary and comprehension) and performance (picture concepts and block design, among other skills). Students receive three percentile scores, one for each section and a combined mark; a proud parent might let it be known that their child was a “99 x 3” or simply a “99.”

The name E.R.B. is actually a misnomer; the test’s actual name is the Early Childhood Admission Assessment. E.R.B. stands for the Educational Records Bureau, which administers the test.

The bureau issued a report defending the test, saying that while scores had increased, they had done so only gradually over time. But the report also acknowledged “the alarming number of children” who score in the highest percentiles: in each of the past few years between 62 and 70 percent of the applicants to the independent schools represented by the association reached the 90th percentile, meaning they were in the top 10th of a national norm of students who took a version of the Wechsler test, and between 18 and 29 percent scored at the 98th percentile. However, the report said the average E.R.B. child was, statistically speaking, a higher performer than the average American child and that “this is not a new trend.”

Still, among parents the coaching issue has become the preschool version of steroids in baseball, with any chart-busting score arousing suspicion. Debra Mesnick, a pediatrician whose children took the E.R.B., said she knew parents who were prepping their children even though they acted as though they were not. “There were the names of $200-an-hour tutors floating around, but people didn’t admit to using them,” she said. Such is the touchiness of the issue that discussing the test has become its own test of social etiquette. Francesca Andrews Goodwin, whose three daughters attend Grace Church School in Greenwich Village, said that she was tight-lipped about her daughters’ results. “I found it very rude when people talked about it openly,” she said.

Jae Chun, a lawyer, said he would try to discreetly change the subject. “When someone told you their child scored an 80 percent, it was very awkward to say your child scored a 99,” he said. Another parent, Marie Bishko, said that parents became stressed because the E.R.B. “divides children into two piles” — the 99s, and everyone else.

Even more damaging than the social pressure is the potential for a nonstratospheric score to color a parent’s own perception of a child. One mother of three children said that her first son scored 99, but her second one received only a 90. “For a moment, you have to check yourself,” said the mother, who declined to be identified, but who admitted being surprised and disappointed.

Ms. Oddo, 45, whose sons now attend second grade at the Saint Ignatius Loyola Grammar School on the Upper East Side, acknowledged that she was a little embarrassed by their E.R.B. scores until she “came back to earth.” She added: “If you get a 95 on a test at school, that’s great. No one would expect your child to get 100s.”

Still, Ms. Oddo said she never talked about her sons’ scores at the time. And she was not the only one, she noted. Other than 99s, the only scores she heard were in the 70s and 80s, which were so low as to be credibly attributed to a lack of focus or just a bad day.

“People who had 80s, they always had justification,” she said. “Nobody talks about it if it’s in the 90s.”

Richard Scarry’s Books for Busy Children

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.

NYC ERB Will Use WPPSI®-IV for ECAA Testing for Private School Admissions

The ERB recently revised its “What to Expect on the ECAA” brochure to reflect the changes it is making on the test for NYC kids applying to private kindergarten. They are using the new WPPSI®-IV to assess Manhattan children applying for kindergarten admissions. For those of you who have been doing practice questions with your child for the WPPSI-III, don’t worry – many of subtests are very similar to what was on the WPPSI®-III.

The Early Childhood Admissions Assessment or ECAA is the IQ test that is given to little NYC independent school applicants one-to-one by a psychologist each year. It takes about 40 – 50 minutes to administer and is given in the spring and fall before children apply to NYC independent schools. Many kids are tested in their nursery schools, while others are assessed at the ERB office at 470 Park Avenue South. If you visit the ERB website at http://erblearn.org/parents, download the ECAA What to Expect brochure, and you will get an idea of the types of questions your child will be asked.

If your child is entering Pre-K to 1st grade, he will be given 8 subtests for a full scale IQ score and the assessment should take about 40-50 minutes. Here are the 8 subtests that will be administered:

Verbal Subtests
1) Vocabulary
2) Similarities
3) Information (replaced “Word Reasoning” from WPPSI®-III)
4) Comprehension

Non-Verbal Subtests
5) Block Design
6) Matrix Reasoning
7) Bug Search (replaced “Coding” from WPPSI®-III)
8) Picture Concepts

Practice questions for all of these subtests are available at www.TestingMom.com.

FAQ’s about IQ Tests For Young Children

1) Which subtests of the IQ test will my child take?

When we talk about IQ Tests, we are talking about tests such as the WPPSI®-III or IV or the Stanford-Binet V, tests that are administered by psychologists working one-on-one with your child. These tests often have many subtests, but your child is not always given every possible subtest from the instrument.

The subtests that are administered depend on the reason why your child is being assessed. If your child is being assessed to qualify for a private school program, for example, the private schools usually direct the psychologist as to which subtests should be administered. In cities like Manhattan, Dallas, Houston, and Atlanta, there are test administration groups that administer the test one time to a child, and that score can be used for applications to schools across the city. In those locations, every child will be given the same subtests that the association of independent schools has decided they want all children to be given.

If your child is being assessed to determine if she has a learning issue, the psychologist will use her judgment as to whether a full scale IQ test should be given, or whether a more limited assessment is called for. IQ tests generally have Core Subtests, Supplemental Subtests, and Optional Subtests. The psychologist may substitute some subtests for others if your child has limitations in language or motor skills, or if for any reason she feels a different subtest is more appropriate to helping her understand your child’s learning delays.

2) How long does the test take?

Depending on whether or not the psychologist is giving the full test, administration times may vary. On many of the subtests on IQ tests, children start with a question that is easy for them and they are allowed to keep going until they miss 4 or 5 in a row (or until they get to the end of the questions in a subtest). So children who answer more questions may take longer to be tested. Generally, the test lasts 30 – 45 minutes for younger children (i.e. ages 2:6 – 3:11) and 45 – 60 minutes for older children (i.e. ages 4:0 to 7:7).

3) If my child is 4, will he be compared to all 4-year-olds or to 4-year-olds that are born in the same month in which he was born?

On the WPPSI® tests for young children, kids are compared to other children born within 3 months of themselves. So a child born January 1 who takes the test the day after her birthday would be compared to children who are 4:0 (as she is) through 4:2 – a 3-month age band. Many parents try to schedule the test when their child is at the oldest part of the age band so she will be compared to younger children (with this child, that would be at the end of March). If this is easy for you to do, it is probably a good idea, but you don’t always have control over when your child will be tested. If you can’t control when the test will be given, you shouldn’t get too stressed about it. There are often good reasons to wait and have a child tested as late as possible, and that might preclude the child from being tested at the “best” part of the age band.

On the Stanford-Binet V, young children are compared to other children born within 2 months of their birthday.

4) If my child doesn’t give a complete answer on a verbal item, can the psychologist encourage him to say more?

Yes, when a child’s answer is incomplete or vague, the psychologist can say, “Tell me more” or “What else” or “Can you explain that to me?”

5) If my child isn’t following instructions, can they be repeated?

Yes, on tasks that are not timed, instructions can be repeated if the child isn’t following the instructions or if the child requests that the instructions be repeated. When the instructions are allowed to be repeated, they can usually be repeated as often as is requested by the child. On timed subtests, instructions may be repeated, but the time to repeat the instructions will be included in your child’s completion time.

If your child does ask for the instructions to be repeated a lot, or if she fails to follow instructions, this will probably result in a notation in the comments section of your child’s test. Private schools that are considering children for admission do pay attention to how well your child listens and pays attention to instructions. For this reason, it is important for you to work with your child on her listening, focusing and following directions skills.

6) Will the psychologist show my child how to do each type of subtest before the actual test starts?

Yes, there are always sample questions where the child is shown what to do and how to answer each type of question. After they have completed one or two sample items successfully, they will go ahead and begin working on the subtest. The psychologist is instructed not to proceed to the actual test until she is sure the child understands what to do.

7) How do I explain to my child why he is being tested?

You might say something along these lines. “Today you’ll be working with a special teacher who wants to know everything that 4 year olds know. The teacher is very nice, just like your teacher, Mrs. Smith. You’ll be working with blocks, playing with puzzles, and answering questions like the questions you answer in school. Just do the very best you can and show her how much 4-year-olds like you know! You may not know the answer to all the questions you’re asked, and that’s just fine. Just give your best guess to whatever she asks, and do your best on each puzzle or activity.”

8) If I don’t understand my child’s test scores or report, will the psychologist sit down with me and explain it?

Before your child is tested, talk to the psychologist. Ask her if a follow up consultation either in person or by phone is included in the cost of the assessment. If not, you may have to pay extra for the private consultation. But if you have any question about your child’s performance, it will be important for you to talk to the psychologist and get a more detailed understanding of what your child’s scores mean.

For Practice questions for IQ Tests, visit www.TestingMom.com or take a look at IQ Fun Park, the test prep kit disguised as a game.

More on WPPSI®-IV vs. WPPSI®-III (or Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence®)

When you learn that your child will be given the WPPSI®-III or WPPSI®-IV, it is important to understand that they are taking an IQ or intelligence test. An alternative to the WPPSI® test that is often given is the Stanford-Binet V. These tests are administered one-on-one with a psychologist and can take from 45 minutes to over an hour. The test was updated in October, 2012, and most psychologists will be using it by fall 2013.

I am really excited about the updates to the new WPPSI-IV test. Pearson has added some new subtests that make the test more fun and playful for young children. They have added sections that assess Working Memory, which was not specifically covered on the WPPSI®-III, and they have limited the amount of expressive language a child needs in order to show what they know and understand.

Here are some of the ways WPPSI®-IV differs from WPPSI®-III:

1) Age was expanded. WPPSI-IV is now for Ages 2:6 – 7:7. The test now covers a wider age range. Of course, there are fewer subtests given to younger children (ages 2:6 – 3:11), and the number of subtests a psychologist administers depends on how complete an assessment she chooses to do. Older children (ages 4:0 – 7:7) are given more subtests. A psychologist might choose to give a child subtests to determine a full-scale IQ (FSIQ) score for the child, or she might decide to get a primary index score, which represents intellectual functioning in specific cognitive areas (such as verbal comprehension, visual-spatial, fluid reasoning, working memory, and/or processing speed).

2) Wider Overlap with the WISC®-IV – There is now a wider overlap where a child can either take the WPPSI-IV or the WISC-IV. The WISC®-IV is the “continuation” of the WPPSI®-IV – the subtests are similar and both tests are published by Pearson. Between the ages of 6:0 – 7:7, either test may be administered. For children suspected of having lower cognitive skills, it is probably best that they be given the WPPSI®-IV. The psychologist can start with a lower level of question difficulty for children in this category. If you have a child this age who appears to have a higher level of intelligence, administering the WISC®-IV allows the child to push forward to more difficult questions and show how high he can go. A good psychologist can talk with you about which test is more appropriate after getting a thorough understanding of why you have having your child tested.

3) Less Writing is Required – The WPPSI®-III required children to make symbols using their pencils in the old “Coding” section of the test. Not all children had the fine-motor skills to manage this task. This task was designed to measure a child’s “processing speed” – that is, how quickly they are able to work at a new task. If they were having trouble manipulating their pencil, it wasn’t the best measure of how quickly a child could work. With the WPPSI-IV, ink daubers replace pencils. Processing speed is now measured in the Bug Search and Cancellation subtests with children “stamping” their answer, which requires less development in the way of fine motor skills and is a lot more fun for the child. These two subtests replace the old Cancellation and Symbol Search subtests, and are considered more developmentally appropriate for younger children.

4) Less Expressive Language is Needed – With the WPPSI®-III, children were asked more open-ended questions where they were required to explain their answers. For example, a WPPSI®-III “Comprehension” question might require a child to explain “Why is it important to share your toys.” Young children with limited expressive language skills might have a hard time explaining why sharing toys is important, although they might understand that it is the polite thing to do so that everyone gets a turn to play. With the WPPSI®-IV, the Comprehension questions are now picture-based. A child will hear a question and must understand what he is being asked (receptive language), and then he is expected to point to the answer. So a child may be shown 4 pictures where children are playing together – some not so nicely, some playing separately – and be asked, “Point to the child who is sharing his toys.” There are still expressive language requirements for this test, with the Vocabulary and Picture Naming subtests, but these two subtests are not always administered.

5) Working Memory has been added – Working memory is a critical cognitive skill for school children. When we talk about this ability, we are talking about a child’s ability to hear or see something, to immediately remember it, and then do something with the information. An auditory working memory test activity that you’ll see on IQ tests would involve reading a string of numbers and letters to a child, and asking them to repeat the numbers and letters back with the numbers first going from lowest to highest and the letters second, given back in alphabetical order. This would not be an appropriate task for a young child, of course. Research shows that younger children have stronger visual memories than auditory, so the WPPSI®-IV Working Memory subtests are all visual in nature. A child sees a picture and then must point to in later when it is mixed in with other pictures. Or a child sees an animal card placed in a location on a zoo map. After the animal card is taken away, the child must put the picture back where it was before. To accomplish these Working Memory tasks, children must access skills around attention, concentration, mental control and reasoning – all critical skills for thinking.

I believe the new WPPSI®-IV is a wonderful intelligence test for young children. It’s subtests are based on the latest thinking and research in the field of child development. Parents often ask me, if given a choice, should their child take the Stanford-Binet or the WPPSI? If your school will accept either test as a qualification for acceptance, I would recommend that you ask for the new WPPSI®-IV.

For Practice questions for WPPSI®-IV, visit www.TestingMom.com or take a look at IQ Fun Park, the test prep kit disguised as a game.

Sources of Information about WPPSI®-IV:

Test Publisher’s website: http://www.pearsonassessments.com/HAIWEB/Cultures/en-us/Productdetail.htm?Pid=WPPSI-IV
Test Publisher’s brochure: http://www.pearsonassessments.com/hai/Images/Products/WPPSI-IV/brochure.pdf

Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence™ – Third Edition (WPPSI™ – III) and Fourth Edition (WPPSI™ – IV) are registered trademarks of Pearson Education, Inc or its affiliate(s), or their licensors. TestingMom.com and TestingForKindergarten.com are not affiliated with nor related to Pearson Education, Inc or its affiliates (“Pearson”). Pearson does not sponsor or endorse any TestingMom.com product, nor have TestingMom.com products or services been reviewed, certified, or approved by Pearson. Trademarks referring to specific test providers are used by TestingMom.com and TestingForKindergarten.com for nominative purposes only and such trademarks are solely the property of their respective owners.

WPPSI®-IV – The New ERB – How is It Different From the Old Test…and How to Prepare?

In yesterday’s post, we talked about how the ERB administers many tests to children for private school admissions in NYC. In the last few years, they gave 8 out of 14 subtest from the WPPSI®-III and called it the ECAA or Early Childhood Admissions Assessment. The WPPSI®-III has been updated and is now the WPPSI®-IV. It is a good bet that the ERB will adopt portions of this test to assess children applying to private school in NYC. Throughout the U.S., the WPPSI®-IV is administered as a qualifier for children applying to private schools. Today, we’ll talk about some of the new subtests on the WPPSI®-IV. If you want to learn more about this test, you can CLICK HERE to learn what Pearson, the test publisher, says about it in material it has published on-line.

Below, I will tell you about the new subtests on the WPPSI®-IV. At TestingMom.com, we have practice materials to help your child build the skills needed for each subtest. These activities, questions, and games are immediately accessible as soon as you join the site. I always recommend joining at the top 1% level as that is where you will get the most practice materials. I would also like to suggest some publicly available games and activities you can do to build the skills needed to do well on each subtest. Please note that if your child is taking the WPPSI®-IV through the ERB in NYC, we don’t know which of the subtests they will be administering – that has not yet been announced.

3 New Measures of Processing Speed

Processing speed captures how quickly your child can perform the activities on the test. Faster processing speed means that your child is able to absorb information and master material at a quicker pace. Being able to work quickly requires your child to focus his attention, scan, discriminate, and manipulate visual information in his mind. Children whose brains work faster are thought to be “smarter.” On tests that measure processing speed, children are timed and given a limited amount of time to complete the task. With the 3 subtests we are about to cover, children use an ink dauber or “stamper” to indicate their responses. Each of the subtests below require solid visual-spatial reasoning, thinking and memory abilities in order to excel.

Bug Search

This is essentially a “matching” activity done within a specific time limit. The child sees the bug in the far left box and must “stamp” the matching bug with his ink dauber. This activity is used with children ages 4:0 – 7:7. There are 66 matching questions. Below (top) is the sample of “Bug Search” that can be found on the test publisher’s website.

You can find similar activities to this one in many educational workbooks designed for children. To build up your child’s “matching” skills, there are tons of early childhood education games you might consider purchasing for your child. Just go to Amazon.com and type in “match game” and many games designed to build these skills will pop up.


With this subtest, a sample of which is shown from the test publisher’s brochure, children ages 4:0 to 7:7 are shown a series of related objects – in this case, items of clothing. They are then shown an organized (i.e. in rows) and later, an unorganized (i.e. “random”) page filled with items of clothing mixed with other child-friendly items like toys, animals, cars, etc. The child must use his ink dauber and stamp each item of clothing that he sees within a specified time. Some good activities to do with your child to build the skills required to do well on this visual-recognition/classification subtest are the “Spot it, Jr.” games, which can be found at Amazon.com. I would also recommend “Where’s Waldo” books, also available at Amazon.com. Another great item to build your child’s visual-spatial reasoning skills needed to perform this activity are the “I Spy” books. You can buy these at the pre-school level and let your child work her way up to trickier and more complex arrays of hidden items. Children love these books and they have no idea that they are building their non-verbal intelligence when they work with them. You can also get these books at Amazon.com.

Animal Coding

The next subtest you’ll find on WPPSI®-IV is Animal Coding, designed for children ages 4:0 – 7:7. Here is a picture of an animal coding worksheet from the Test Publisher’s brochure: Here, children use their ink daubers and stamp the shape that goes with each animal according to the “key” given to them. So (for example), they would stamp a circle when they see a fish, a star when they see a cat, and a square when they see a turtle. There are 72 items. While the child is able to look back at the key to remind himself what to stamp with which animal, that will slow him down. So having a good working memory really helps a child move quickly through this subtest. This subtest has taken the place of “Coding” on the old WPPSI®-III, where children used to make a specific mark when they saw a particular shape tied to a key. The new Animal Coding is much more child-friendly for young kids whose fine-motor skills are just emerging.

New Working Memory Subtests

Another change to the WPPSI®-IV is that Working Memory tasks have been added. Unlike the subtests measuring processing speed, these are not timed. If you read Testing For Kindergarten, you’ll remember that memory – including working memory – is one of the 7 abilities children need for success in school and on tests. Memory is fundamental to higher order thinking. Without it, you cannot think, reason, hypothesize, solve problems or make decisions. Working memory is your child’s ability to retrieve information he was just given, hold on to it, and then do something with it. It is critical to a child’s long-term cognitive success, which is why it has been added to the WPPSI®-IV. The two new Working Memory tasks are both visual. You’ll find aural working memory tasks on tests such as WISC®-IV, where children listen to strings of numbers and letters given to them by the tester – they then have to repeat the letters and numbers back to the tester in a different order. This requires hearing and not seeing the information they must work with. On the WPPSI®-IV, it is visual working memory that is assessed.

Picture Memory

This image comes from the Test Publisher’s brochure on the WPPSI®-IV. In this case, the child from age 2:6 to 7:7 would have previously been shown a “stimulus” picture of one of these items – the star, perhaps. Then the child would be shown the star mixed into an array of other items. She is asked to look at the “stimulus” picture for a short period of time, remember it and then point to the item she just saw. This subtest can get harder by having more “stimulus” pictures and/or more pictures within the array of answer choices. Pictures children have seen earlier in the test may also be repeated, so the child has to remember if this was something she just saw, or something she saw earlier on a different question. There are 35 items on this subtest.

Zoo Locations
Here is what Zoo Locations looks like – the source of the image is the Test Publisher’s Brochure. With Zoo Locations, the child (age 2:6 – 7:7) views an animal card (or cards) that has been placed on a zoo location map for a brief period of them. The card(s) is removed and the child must place the card(s) where it was located before. There are 20 questions. As with the Picture Memory subtest, doing well on this requires strong visual-spatial working memory skills.

To build your child’s visual-spatial working memory abilities, any game that is similar to the old “Concentration” game is recommended. CLICK HERE for an Arthur Concentration game that I found on Amazon.com. If you go to Amazon and type in “memory game,” a number of fun memory games come up, including the Original Memory game and some themed-memory games (such as Dr. Seuss and Sesame Street) that may appeal to your child.

There are many other differences between the WPPSI®-III and WPPSI®-IV, which I will write about in future posts. For now, I wanted to show you some of the biggest changes, which are reflected in the sections I wrote about above. At www.TestingMom.com, we have created practice questions and activities that build skills needed for each of the subtests on the WPPSI-IV. If your child will be taking the WPPSI®-IV anytime soon for school admissions consideration, I’d encourage you to join at the top 1% level and work with our materials that are original and different from the test, but designed to help your child build the underlying skills needed to do well on the WPPSI®-IV. I’d also encourage you to mix the TestingMom.com activities with some of the games from Amazon that I suggested above. Always keep your test prep fun and playful – that is how your child will learn best.

Sources of Information about WPPSI®-IV:

Test Publisher’s website: http://www.pearsonassessments.com/HAIWEB/Cultures/en-us/Productdetail.htm?Pid=WPPSI-IV
Test Publisher’s brochure: http://www.pearsonassessments.com/hai/Images/Products/WPPSI-IV/brochure.pdf

Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence™ – Third Edition (WPPSI™ – III) and Fourth Edition (WPPSI™ – IV) are registered trademarks of Pearson Education, Inc or its affiliate(s), or their licensors. TestingMom.com and TestingForKindergarten.com are not affiliated with nor related to Pearson Education, Inc or its affiliates (“Pearson”). Pearson does not sponsor or endorse any TestingMom.com product, nor have TestingMom.com products or services been reviewed, certified, or approved by Pearson. Trademarks referring to specific test providers are used by TestingMom.com and TestingForKindergarten.com for nominative purposes only and such trademarks are solely the property of their respective owners.

New ERB Exam for Private School Kindergarten Admissions in April – What’s the deal?

Hi all, here is an email I just received from a TestingMom.com member and I wanted to share it with you. A NYC member wrote, “I just read in yesterday’s NYT that the ERB exam will be different beginning April 1. Can you tell me more?”

First, let me clarify one thing that is a bit confusing to some parents. The ERB isn’t a test. The ERB is the Educational Records Bureau, an organization that administers many different tests to children, mostly for school admissions. Until now, they have given a shortened version of the WPPSI®-III to kids who were applying to private school in NYC. This shortened WPPSI®-III is called the “Early Childhood Admissions Assessment” or ECAA. All kids in the NYC area applying to private school take the same test, so schools around the city have one point of comparison for all the children applying. It also makes it easier for families, whose kids only have to take one test if they are applying to private schools in the city.

In October this year, the WPPSI®-III was updated and the test became (ta-da!) the WPPSI®-IV. About 8 new subtests were added (modifying or replacing former subtests on the WPPSI®-III) and Word Reasoning was dropped altogether. Slowly, psychologists around the country have started to adopt the new test. The ERB didn’t adopt it when it was first introduced because more than half the children who were applying to private schools in NYC that year had already taken the WPPSI®-III. Had they introduced the new test in the middle of the process, half the kids would have taken the WPPSI®-III and half would have taken the WPPSI®-IV, and you couldn’t really compare the kids’ scores to each other. According to the NY Times article, a new version of the test will be used starting April 1. This has not been officially announced by the ERB, but it’s a good bet that they will be giving the WPPSI®-IV in April.

The NY Times article also talks about a big ISAAGNY meeting happening in March where schools will vote on whether or not to keep the ERB test. Odds are that the test will be maintained. We will keep our eyes and ears open for announcements about what is happening with the WPPSI®-IV. Even if the ERB adopts the test, we don’t know which of the subtests they will use. As with the ECAA, I’m sure they will use a shortened version of the WPPSI®-IV as well. So we’ll just have to wait and see which subtests they adopt.

If you would like to do some practice questions for the WPPSI®-IV, visit www.TestingMom.com, where there are well over 1,000 practice questions for WPPSI-IV. More details on the new subtests for WPPSI-IV will be covered in future posts.

School Admissions Testing – How can I prepare my child?

These days, children are regularly tested to get into private school or gifted and talented programs. If you live in the NYC, the ERB or WPPSI®-III test is given for private school admissions. The OLSAT® and NNAT®2 is given for gifted & talented qualification. The Stanford-Binet is given for Hunter College Elementary qualification. But even if you don’t live in NYC, children around the country are being tested for private school admissions and gifted and talented qualification. The CogAT® Form 6 and Form 7 are commonly given, along with the ITBS® (Iowa Test of Basic Skills), the KBIT®-2 and more.

There is so much you can do to prepare your child for these tests at home. If you have some time, I highly recommend that you pick up my book, Testing For Kindergarten. It is full of games and activities that are fun for your child to do and preparatory for the most common tests that young children are given. IQ Fun Park is a wonderful game you can play with your child that will prepare him for testing. It’s actually a test prep kit, but to a child, it’s play. If you would like your child to do practice questions for the most common tests children are given across the country, TestingMom.com offers thousands of practice questions that she can work with either pencil to paper or even as games.

When you do work with your child to prepare for testing, keep it light and fun. Never talk about it as test prep. Call it special homework, brain teasers, or puzzles. Give your child brightly colored stickers for doing a good job. We find that children generally love doing this special work with their parents – it’s a bonding experience. And it is great for you because you get to see what your child is good at and what they need to work on. Once you see that, you’ll want to work on the things that give you’re your child trouble outside of the test prep situation. So, for example, if you learn that your child doesn’t know his letters or numbers during test prep, you’ll want to play fun games with him to teach him those things.

For 100 free practice questions, visit www.TestingMom.com.

Visit IQ Fun Park!