Would you believe that just a few years ago, most New York kids applying to private school kindergarten took the ERB test (WPPSI) cold?
More concerned moms bought a few toys like Mighty Mind, Block Buddies and BrainQuest.
Then in 2009, two companies–Bright Kids and Aristotle Circle published ERB prep workbooks, essentially giving parents access to the test questions:
Aristotle Circle ERB/WPPSI III Workbook
Bright Kids ERB Preparation Guide
With the genie out of the bottle, naturally many parents grabbed copies.
Then, in 2010, Karen Quinn published her Testing for Kindergarten, and the ERB people themselves released the test contents. They cautioned that it was OK to prep with their “official” ERB test prep materials, but not commercial materials. OK.
Meanwhile, more and more nursery schools began explicitly as well as implicitly prepping their preschoolers for the ERB.
So in 2011, is prepping for the ERB cheating? Most importantly, can prepping get your child disqualified from private school kindergarten, as many people have long believed? The private schools have publicly claimed that ERB scores no longer even carry much weight: Private School Screening Test Loses Some Clout Is that true?
What I found in 2010-2011 is that despite what the NYC private schools claimed, ERB scores continue to be as critical as always in private school kindergarten admission. Prepping is rampant, and given that the ERB itself releases materials, and many nursery schools prep, the line between prepping and cheating is now almost completely blurred.
Interestingly, Pearson, the company that designs the WPPSI, the test from which the ERB is derived, is currently revising the exam. When the changes will affect the ERB is not yet known, but I am guessing 2012. At that point, there will doubtless be minor changes in commercial materials explicitly designed for the kindergarten ERB. Stay tuned.