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“My child didn’t pass the school’s admission test!”

copyright Nest School 2009

Tis the season of admission test results..

I was chatting with a parent the other day and she told me that she was so depressed her son did not get admitted in a progressive school that the applied to. I highlighted the word depressed because I cannot describe in words the heart ache that mother felt in what seems to be the first admission test that her son took for Preparatory Level.

I have had my share of similar sad stories from parents in the past but this one struck a chord because they were applying in a progressive school. I’m used to hearing stories of not being able to enter traditional schools for Prep. I know how hard it is to get in… but I also know how easy it is for some to appeal the decision that sometimes I wonder about the veracity of these traditional admission tests. I can’t speak for traditional schools so I’ll just focus on this particular mother’s plight… What did I tell her? I told her 5 things:

1. If the school is a progressive, then the admission test should ALSO be progressive. This mother narrated that her son was in tears while exiting the exam room. In tears! I think we should reserve stress and anxiety of this kind to when the children are older. Six-and-a-half-year-olds should not go through a test that make them burst into tears. Her son did not have a learning disability and performed very well in the school that he was currently in. So for him to burst into tears, one can only think that the test was highly traditional and definitely not developmentally-appropriate.

2. The school should tell the applicants and their families how many slots they are opening up for the school year AND they should only test that number of students. I remember a story from a dad whose daughter tried to get in an exclusive girls’ school.  After learning she did not get in, they found out that there were only 2 slots available and 85 girls applied! Now this is okay if the parents were informed BEFORE the test. Why?

  1. The parents already know the odds and may decide not to pursue the application.

The UP-Child Development Center has a tambiolo system. A system wherein the number of slots available are announced during the application period. Then the names of the applicants are raffled off. Believe me, hundreds still apply even if the odds are the same as winning the lottery!

  1. If the child does not get admitted, then the child’s family will not feel that bad because they knew the odds of getting admitted.

The heart ache of not being admitted is coming from the feeling of a parent that her child is not ready, cut out or good enough for that school. This is a normal feeling however, couldn’t we avoid promoting this by telling the parents the number of slots available?

I understand that progressive schools have limited slots because of the small class size. But what peeves me is that schools sometimes justify not admitting some children by hinting on some learning disability that the child may have which is the reason for him not passing the admission test. I’ve seen some do it, so it’s hard to deny it.

If the reason is a learning disability or a special need, and the school has limited slots for SpEd students or not admitting SpEd students at all, then this information should also be available.

3. It is not the fault of the current school that your child did not pass the admission test. I know of a mom that tried to get her son in an exclusive boy school. Her son was then enrolled in a progressive preschool. When her son did not get in, she kept telling me that her son did not get in because he was in a progressive preschool who did not prepare him enough for the traditional school’s admission test.

Whoa. I told her that it is not the ultimate goal of a progressive school to prepare a child for a traditional admission test. I will repeat that with feelings.. it is not the ultimate goal of a progressive school to prepare a child for a traditional admission test. I’ve met parents who have asked me that if they attend our school, will their son pass a particular traditional school. My answer is “I don’t know. But we will teach him the skills he needs appropriate for his age and skill level. We do have former students who have passed that particular school’s test and are thriving in that school, though.”

There are even schools that even advertise that if you enroll in their school, your child will definitely pass a certain boy school. Would you want your child to be prepared for a test or be prepared for life?

4. I personally believe that if a child came from a certain progressive preschool that has a grade school, he should be able to attend that school’s grade school automatically. If Progressive School A (PSA) has a preschool and grade school, then all their graduates from their preschool should be able to attend their grade school if they wish. WHY? I ask, WHY NOT? It’s the same school!

First of all, if they were not cut out for the grade school because of learning disabilities of SpEd needs, then this should have been addressed in the preschool level either through the allotment of SpEd slots or having a SpEd department to handle their needs. Progressive schools should accept ALL children. A progressive school should cater to every child with every need. In reality, a progressive school is not a SpEd school, however, it may allot a number of slots for SpEd students depending on the SpEd need. If they cannot handle it, then they should have turned down the child’s application during the preschool level.

It’s very difficult to justify that your own preschool graduates cannot go to your grade school. If you can, please enlighten me with a comment.

5. A failed admission test should not define your child. I know that no matter how often I say this, it’s still hard to accept. My daughter applied in UP and Ateneo for college. She did not pass UP, she passed Ateneo. So she went to Ateneo. Simple. If we wanted to appeal the UPCAT decision, we can probably do so. We can also make her study for a year in Ateneo and make her transfer to UP. Many options.. the important thing is that we did not brood over the UPCAT results. It’s easy to justify it (UP doesn’t like homeschooled applicants, etc.), but accept it already. He didn’t pass, so what are your other options?

I know it’s a blow on the parent’s ego. But it’s not about you, it’s about your child.

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