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A new online test, the “Thinking and Engagement Assessment” (T&E), is now required for 2020-2021 kindergarten admission to almost 30 NYC private schools…with more schools possibly to come. While many of the city’s most competitive schools are on the list, interestingly, the Riverdale schools are not. Also interestingly, unlike previous kindergarten admissions tests, the T&E is not administered by the ERB.

The high stakes, one-time T&E test, “taps expressive and receptive language, verbal and non-verbal reasoning skills, traceability, problem-solving skills, and developmental areas in which schools need information to determine fit between applicant and program.” All very nice, but four year olds have just one shot to strut their stuff, and they have to do it over Zoom, not the most child-friendly format.

Schools suggest parents help preschoolers prep for the Thinking and Engagement Assessment by “having your child practice wearing headphones while talking to an adult via Facetime, Zoom, Google-meet, or any other virtual platform. A few days before the scheduled assessment, we recommend that parents/guardians explain to their children that they will meet with a teacher online who will invite them to do some fun and interesting activities.”

Understandably, COVID has made admissions even more difficult than usual as parents and students won’t be able to visit schools. I am afraid that having so much of kindergarten admissions dependent on one exam puts great stress on families and may not be a fair look at students’ capabilities.