The cover story of the February 8, 2010 issue of New York magazine discusses how much power the kindergarten admissions test has in determining a child’s future, and how ridiculous that is.
The Junior Meritocracy: Should a child’s fate be sealed by an exam he takes at the age of 4? Why kindergarten-admission tests are worthless, at best.
By Jennifer Senior
In New York, it turns out that an awful lot is determined by a child’s 5th birthday. Nearly every selective elementary school in the city, whether it’s public or private, requires standardized exams for kindergarten admission, some giving them so much weight they won’t even consider applicants who score below the top 3 percent. If a child scores below this threshold, it hardly spells doom. But if a child manages to vault over it, and in turn gets into one of these selective schools, it can set him or her on a successful glide path for life.
Consider, for instance, Hunter College Elementary School, perhaps the most competitive publicly funded school in the city. (This year, there were 36 applicants for each slot.) Four-year-olds won’t even be considered for admission unless their scores begin in the upper range of the 98th percentile of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales, which costs $275 to take. But if they’re accepted and successfully complete third grade (few don’t), they’ll be offered admission to Hunter College High School. And since 2002, at least 25 percent of Hunter’s graduating classes have been admitted to Ivy League schools. (In 2006 and 2007, that number climbed as high as 40.) Or take, as another example, Trinity School. In 2008, 36 percent of its graduates went to Ivy League schools. More than a third of those classes started there in kindergarten. Thirty percent of Dalton’s graduates went to Ivies between 2005 and 2009, as did 39 percent of Collegiate’s, and 34 percent of Horace Mann’s. Many of these lucky graduates wouldn’t have been able to go to these Ivy League feeders to begin with, if they hadn’t aced an exam just before kindergarten. And of course these advantages reverberate into the world beyond.
Click here to read more