Officially, the word is No. Do not prep your child for the ERB.
Urban legend even holds that if you do prep your child for the ERB, he or she will be found out and shut out of NYC private school kindergarten.
However, this is what I have seen in my almost 14 years of educational consulting practice:
- 1999-early 2000’s. The Stone Age of prep. Not really done. Better nursery schools teach the skills required, savvy parents buy Brain Quest cards, but most people do nothing. Kids just take the test, and miraculously, 1% score in the top 1%. (Seriously, even back then, taking the test cold, a lot more Manhattan kids scored in the high 90’s than you would statistically expect.)
- 2005? A few sneaky parents, a few sneaky tutors. Tutoring starts, on the down low. Purchases of tanagrams, Picture Perfect, and other learning toys start climbing. The park bench gets talkative.
- 2009-2010. All hell breaks loose. Karen Quinn’s Testing for Kindergarten hits the shelves, and of course the game changers, the books that actually give away the types of questions: Bright Kids NYC ERB WPPSI III Prep and Aristotle Circle ERB WPPSI III Prep Nursery schools continue to prep, and a few even recommend tutors, quietly.
- 2011. The ERB itself publishes a test prep booklet, making a mockery of its previous stance against test prep. But the ERB people have a clear distinction: No prep by other commercial outfits.
- Prep continues…everybody knows it, including the private schools. A high ERB score does not get you in, but a low ERB score will keep you out.
So should you prep? I think I’ve made my case clear. Should the private schools be ranking and sorting 4-year-olds, and requiring the ERB so all these poor preschoolers have to prep? No.