26 June 2013

Underwater photography

A2 longed desperately and quite annoyingly for a sports camera displayed at our local Costco.  We knew we would eventually give in because any parents in their right mind would do just about anything to stop the whining from pounding their eardrums.

James didn't want to give it to him on his birthday because merely clocking in another year wasn't a worthy accomplishment.  So when we got the results back from his GATE testing*, we figured it was a great occasion to celebrate and acknowledge his efforts.  Of course, some would argue that merely demonstrating your genetically-dictated neurological makeup isn't an accomplishment per se.

A2 has been enthusiastically using the camera for months now, but this was the boys' first foray into underwater work:

* Let's talk a little about testing, shall we?  It's a joke.  It's not a perfect system in any way.  Of course, classroom observations and work samples round out the profile so that the test results don't stand on their own, but still.   

There's a huge difference between achievement tests (what you know) and cognitive tests (how you go about acquiring your knowledge) where the former represents the actual and the latter represents the potential.  You can and should prepare adequately for achievement tests.  But the truth is (supposed to be) that you cannot prepare for a test of cognition.  So I'd like to say that A2 strolled on in and aced the exam, but that's simply not true.  He was "front loaded" as they call it.  That allowed him familiarity with the types of questions asked on the actual exam and practice maintaining focus for the duration of the test.  But in no way do I believe we cheated the system.  We loaned out our test prep materials to 3 different kids.  Of the 4 who underwent the same preparation, 2 were identified for placement in GATE while the other 2 were not.  So test prep can't force a child in GATE, but I imagine it's great for those who would otherwise be on the cusp to bump up.  And for those like A2 who would have mostly likely been identified anyhow, it makes them shine.  I mean, he really hit out of the park.  That ball flew out of the stadium,  beyond city limits, and right out of state.  But I know that much of that is attributable to the artifact of having been coached, as it were.

And then there's the guilt of not having prepped A1 in the same manner.  He was identified anyhow, but I'm still awash with guilt.  Because that's just how I roll.


Michelle said...

I'm sort of amazed that there's test prep for GATE. (I don't know why because there seems to be prep for everything, but I am.)

Lam said...

It's less of a big deal in California, but in NYC, GATE prep is big (HUGE!) business. This is always the case in places where private school is prohibitively expensive but there is an enormous divide between the horrible vs. the stellar public schools. Parents will do whatever it takes to get their kids into the decent public school.

I think the more startling fact is that school ranking isn't nearly as strong a factor in student success as parent interest in education. Studies show parents who try to get their kids into magnet schools have kids who fare better than peers regardless of where they attended school. So statistically speaking, you just have to see school as important to get those kids to HS graduation and college admission. I find this a very positive and reassuring discovery!

Rachel S. said...

If you still have them, I'd love to borrow your gate test prep materials in the fall.

Lam said...

Yes, Rach, you can have the materials any time! But I'm told that the Kindergarten identification process will change dramatically next year--I didn't get further details because it didn't pertain to our family, but I imagine you can ask Sharon Maeda, who is the district GATE coordinator. Many parents who come from schools like Arroyo choose to postpone testing because there is no differentiated instruction until 3rd grade anyhow (I'm told Peters Canyon GATE education altogether). The benefit of testing later is that there were greater written components that are directly administered by the teacher rather than a random proctor with whom the child has no familiarity.

To be honest, I'm not sure I would have had A1 tested if we ended up at Red Hill because they would have isolated him among a handful of students for differentiated instruction. For him, GATE is more of a social choice than an academic one.