OLSAT, ERB, SB5 : Private and Public School Information Workshop for Parents

For Immediate Release : Parent Information Workshop

We are holding two workshops for June and July due to the calls and emails we have received from parents that missed our workshop in May. They will be held on June 24th, 2009 at 6 – 7:30 PM in Lower Manhattan at One Rector Park and on July 15th, 2009 at The Barclay Street School, 6 Barclay St.  We do not want to turn anyone away due to lack of space as we had to last month.

Speaker : Harley Evans, President of Manhattan Edge Educational Programs and author of  ” Birth to SAT : Parent’s Guide to Giving Your Child Edge in Education and Life” (being released Spring 2010)

Agenda :

1.  Why is this happening in New York City? … Just the Facts

2. 2009 – 2010 School Application and Testing Calendar

3. ERB = Private

4. Stanford – Binet 5 = Hunter

5. OLSAT / BSRA = Public Gifted and Talented

6. Sample Questions from the Tests

7. How to Prepare

8. 52 Part Survey for Honest Evaluation of Your Child’s Kindergarten Readiness

9. How to Improve Your Child’s Skill Set for the Long Road to the SAT (After All this is What it is Really About)

10. Questions, Anyone?

The cost per family is $70. You can apply the cost to any service we offer for 90 days.  There will be a lot of information to digest and will be well worth your time and effort to attend. We are handing over to you 8 years of the latest research, our experience and the experience of our teachers (from Gifted and Talented Programs).

See you there!

OLSAT ERB and SB5 test prep : We have seen the tests!

I had recently written about the conference I attended but failed to mention that we saw the tests and went over them in the group sessions with fancy whiteboard presentations. Company officials were on hand to go over details of their educational assessments and we were enlightened (and delighted). The evidence shows that children that are enriched will score higher on these tests than children with little or no enrichment.

Manhattan Edge is the only test prep company in New York for the pre-k through 2nd grade children that has this information.  No other company in New York even has experience in this area of test prep. We have refined our methods, tested our games on hundreds of children and gone through endless workbooks to find the right mix to boost the capability of the children entrusted to us for enrichment. Below is information on the various NYC tests. I will be adding more daily.


We have been busy meeting with people today who went to the NYC DOE to see their children’s OLSAT / BSRA tests.  Many brought with them sketches they made of the different questions they saw on the test. I also made the request and went to see my daughter’s OLSAT/BSRA tests. After seeing this year’s test, one point I will have to make is that the material on the KTSS package does not cover what is on this test given in New York City. All of the individuals we met with said the same thing, some had used it instead of hiring us and were disappointed with their results. There was so much more on the NYC OLSAT that the package was lacking.

BSRA hint for the day, make sure your child knows the following terms : similar and alike and can identify a curve and an angle in a group of drawings.

Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT), published by Pearson Education, Inc., is a test of abstract thinking and reasoning ability of children pre-K to 18. The Otis-Lennon is a group-administered (except preschool), multiple choice exam,  which measures verbal, quantitative, and spatial reasoning ability. It is organized into five main sections of verbal comprehension, verbal reasoning, pictorial reasoning, figural reasoning, and quantitative reasoning.The test yields verbal and nonverbal scores, from which a total score is derived, called a School Ability Index (SAI). The SAI is a normalized standard score with a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 16. Scoring is measured against peers in age groups of 3-month bands. For example, children born October 4 through December 4 are compared with each other and children born January 4 through March 4 with each other and so on. With the exception of pre-K, the test is administered in groups.

Bracken School Readiness Assessment (BSRA) is a cognitive test designed for children, pre-K through second grade. It assesses six basic skills:

  • Colors — identify common colors by name
  • Letters — identify upper-case and lower-case letters
  • Numbers | Counting — identify single- and double-digit numerals
  • Sizes — demonstrate knowledge of words used to depict size (e.g., tall, wide, fat, thin, etc.)
  • Comparisons — match or differentiate objects based on a specific characteristic
  • Shapes — identify 2 and 3 dimensional shapes by name.

Raw scores can be converted to percentile rank scores and standard scores. The BSRA can be used with children as young as 2.6 years of age.

ERB / Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI) is an intelligence test designed for children ages 2 years 6 months to 7 years 3 months. The current revision is called the  WPPSI–III. Harcourt claims it provides subtest and composite scores that represent intellectual functioning in verbal and performance cognitive domains, as well as providing a composite score that represents a child’s general intellectual ability (i.e., Full Scale IQ).

Some studies show that intelligence tests such as the WPPSI-III, especially for pre-K level, are unreliable and their results vary wildly with various factors such as retesting, practice (familiarization), test administrator, time and place. There are claims that some commercially available material improve results simply by eliminating negative factors through familiarization which in turn puts children at a comfortable frame of mind.

There are 14 parts

1. Block Design – child uses one- or two-colour blocks to re-create a design within a specified time limit.

2. Matrix Reasoning – child looks at an incomplete matrix and selects the missing portion from 4 or 5 response options.

3. Information (checks enrichment base) – child responds to a question by choosing a picture from four response options or the child answers questions that address a broad range of general knowledge topics.

4. Vocabulary – child names pictures or gives definitions for words that the examiner reads aloud from the stimulus book.

5. Picture Concepts – child is presented with two or three rows of pictures and chooses one picture from each row to form a group with a common characteristic.

6. Symbol Search – child scans a search group and indicates whether a target symbol matches any of the symbols in the search group.

7. Word Reasoning – child identifies the common concept being described in a series of increasingly specific clues.

8. Coding – child copies symbols paired with simple geometric shapes. Using a key, the child draws each symbol in its corresponding shape.

9. Comprehension (checks enrichment base) – child answers questions based on his or her understanding of general principles and social situations.

10. Picture Completion – child views a picture and then points to or names the missing part.

11. Similarities – child is read an incomplete sentence containing two concepts that share a common characteristic. The child is asked to complete the sentence by providing a response that reflects the shared characteristic.

12. Receptive Vocabulary – child looks at a group of pictures and points to the one the examiner names aloud.

13. Object Assembly – child is presented with the pieces of a puzzle in a standard arrangement and fits the pieces together to form a meaningful whole within 90 seconds.

14. Picture Naming – child names pictures from the stimulus book.

Stanford-Binet 5

Since the inception of the Stanford-Binet, it has been revised several times. Currently, the test is in its fifth edition, which is called the Stanford-Binet 5. Low variation on individuals tested more than once indicates the test has high reliability, although its validity is debated. The test has been revised to analyze an individual’s responses in four content areas: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, abstract/visual reasoning, and short term memory. A general composite score is obtained. The test is scored by comparing how the test taker performs compared with other people of the same age. The five factors assessed in the test are: Fluid Reasoning, Knowledge, Quantitative Reasoning, Visual-Spatial Processing, and Working Memory. Each factor is assessed in two separate domains, verbal and nonverbal, in order to accurately assess individuals with deafness, limited English, or communication disorders. Examples of test items include verbal analogies to test Verbal Fluid Reasoning and picture absurdities (last year’s included a picture of a man sawing a limb that he is sitting on off a tree) to test Nonverbal Knowledge. The test makers state that the Stanford-Binet 5 accurately assesses low-functioning, normal intelligence, and high-functioning individuals.

Be back with more info very soon.

Harley Evans

ERB and OLSAT Testing : Back in the Saddle

I just got back from a conference on testing for Kindergarten admissions and heard the criteria (also arguments for and against) for the various tests including our formidable NYC OLSAT, the local ERB’s WPPSI and the Stanford-Binet 5.  I felt very proud of our achievements in the past two years in finding the right mix of materials to help children gain an understanding of these skills and prepare them to tackle the challenge they face to get into the best programs.

Imitation, the Sincerest Form of Flattery?

I hesitate to put too much information on my blog about this because a parent who was a client (Jan. 2009) opened a company a month ago to compete with me trying to copy every last detail of my business. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? I viewed her as a distraction until she decided to send out emails to parents (potential clients) slandering my business and me personally by saying the teacher sent to her home disappeared, among other dishonest statements. She is billing herself as the “only comprehensive” service for this type of prep, like it’s a carnival or something. Do people really fall for that? The fact is, she never complained to us or the teacher about anything because she received top rate service – she even tried to hire the teacher for her own company. Maybe they didn’t teach her this in her MBA program, but the courts take a dim view of her type of “marketing” and I have no doubt that this will very soon come back to haunt her.

What I learned at the conference:

Much of what we already knew. Many of the skills being measured are the same on these tests but presented/assessed in a different manner. They attempt to identify the cognitive level of understanding or development of the child and they assess the child through the concrete operational stages (i.e. seriation, classification, decentering, reversability, etc.). Most of the information the mind processes comes from memory. When faced with a new problem, the brain goes through its memory banks to find a solution in the same manner it solved a problem in the past. In short, preparing for these tests or any other tests helps the child’s brain to learn ways to solve the problems they will have to answer, if not in the test then in the classroom later in their educational life. The brain becomes wired with the new memory of the games and problems we solve in Play Prep and will use this memory. Never having this foundation in the memory puts one at a disadvantage.

Examples of Skills Assessed

Seriation : child must be able to sort objects according to size, shape or other characteristic.

Classification : child must name and identify sets of objects according to appearance, size or other characteristic. This will also include the idea that one set can include another (a mathematical concept that Singapore Math introduces).

Decentering : Child takes into account multiple aspects of a problem to solve it; wide cup vs. tall cup can hold the same amount of liquid.

Reversability : Child understands that numbers and objects can be changed then returned to original state ; If 4+4=8 then 8-4=4.

Conservation : Size, length or number of items are unrelated to the arrangement or appearance ; six large items are the same quantity as 6 small items or six checkers spread out over a large area are the same quantity as six checkers grouped together.

Elimination of Egocentrism : Child being able to view the world through another person’s perspective.

We have been working on these skills with our children and others for the last eight years through game play and workbooks. We have worked with an artist on newly designed matrices and sequencing. These are proprietary and we will not be selling them online. We are in this business because it is our passion – to prepare children for their journey into the world of education. The most important part of this process is to make their introduction a fun one, to develop a life long love of learning.

The NYC pre-K testing information meeting we held May 15th was a success, we had over 2 dozen families in attendance.  We plan to hold another meeting in June on the evening of the 26th. The cost is $70, which you can apply to the Play Prep program, which would essentially make it free. We cover all of the information (timelines, etc.) you need to know to prepare for the ERB, Stanford-Binet and OLSAT testing.

See you there,

Harley Evans