As Kezia Burgos considers the kindergarten options for her 3-year-old daughter who will soon turn 4, she views the entrance exam used by many private schools as a necessary evil.
“If you’re required to take a test, you’ve gotta take it, right?” she said as her daughter gamboled on a playground outside of the Ethical Culture Fieldston School on Monday.
“Why should I pay money, and then any kid can go in, too?” Ms. Burgos added. “That’s what I’m debating about.”
The requirement for kindergarten applicants at private schools to take a test known as the E.R.B. will likely remain as Ms. Burgos’ daughter applies to institutions this fall.
But since the Independent School Admissions Association of Greater New York (ISAAGNY) decided to cancel its longstanding endorsement of the E.R.B. last week, there could be one less hurdle for private kindergarten applicants in the future.
The association, which includes a number of Riverdale schools, said in a letter to colleagues that the E.R.B. “provides a narrow assessment of cognitive abilities and may not be predictive of their future academic success.”
ISAAGNY added that the prevalence of test prepping taints test results, throwing their credibility into question.
Area ISAAGNY members include Fieldston, Horace Mann School and the Riverdale Country School. While they are not required to follow suit with the association, the recent development will likely spark an evaluation of admissions policies at the local institution.
A Fieldston representative said a review of admissions policies is in order.
“We are exploring the best way to assess our applicants’ fit with our school,” spokesperson Meredith Halpern wrote in an e-mail message.
Horace Mann has come out in favor of the E.R.B. in spite of ISAAGNY’s recent move. In a statement posted to its website, the school rejected ISAAGNY’s contention that test preparation has skewed results, saying data analyzed by ISAAGNY over ten years do not show a rise in test scores in spite of the increase in test coaching.
Horace Mann added that it does not consider test preparation appropriate for prospective kindergarten and first-grade students.
“We do believe, however, that developmentally appropriate assessments are useful tools in schools like ours,” the statement read.
A Riverdale Country School representative declined to comment on the issue.
While parents of current kindergarten students at local private schools were willing to discuss their trials while applying for admission, none agreed to disclose their full names.
A Fieldston parent fetching her daughter from a kindergarten class on Monday recalled the stress of placing her child through the application process at the competitive institution.
“Was it stressful? Sure it was stressful,” said Tammie, who declined to provide her last name. “It was a stressful experience, but I understand the rationale for the test.”
The mother of a kindergartener at Horace Mann rejected the E.R.B.
“I think it’s ridiculous to test 4 year olds in any capacity considering it doesn’t yield anything and it’s not a true evaluation,” said the woman. She said her child could not recall taking the E.R.B. several months ago.
The test, offered by the Educational Records Bureau, is formally called the Early Childhood Admission Assessment. It costs $568 for kindergarteners, according to www.erblearn.org.