OLSAT scores : Time to pass while we await Results

We are all awaiting the news from our dear friends at the NYC Board of Education. Hearts will be broken and families disrupted as the burden of Real Estate over development has pushed everyone into this chase. Many brand new buildings in my neighborhood of Battery Park and Tribeca have new families in shock that their children are going to be bused when the local school is downstairs. Friendships are being ruined over this highly emotional issue.

In all this turmoil there are even new businesses springing up to copy my business providing the service to parents for G&T test preparation for their children. Many parents have been calling me and emailing me with outrage at what they see as a negative strategy for one new company to get the word out at my expense in a local chat room.  I tell these parents that competition is good.  It forces you to reflect and improve on the quality of your service. Sure they have a pretty website, but this is not an internet business – it is a people business. When they try to hire away your teachers you find out who the loyal ones are. It turns out that the ones with the weakest qualifications are the ones they (the new company) want to hire. Oh well. This coming summer and fall our clients will get the best materials we have ever produced, incorporating new research into our methods.

What sets us apart? We are part of the gifted and talented community and have been for 8 years. That is how long we have really been in this game. Our competition is just starting. We constantly strive to be the best and I know from research of my competitors that no one has my experience in this type of testing. They do not have children in the programs like we do nor do they have the network of teachers at the G&T schools.  I saw these tests 8 years ago and immediately started gathering materials to mimic it and help familiarize children with it. Through interviewing the people who give these tests for jobs I get constantly updated on the parts that children are having difficulty with.

When you use a tutoring/educational coaching program you are not  hiring a website, you are hiring the people and should know three things about them, that they have done the research to be up to date on the best strategies, that they have qualified people to administer the curriculum and that they have a history of success. I work very hard to meet those criteria and know we have the results to prove it. The most recent statistic I offer:  we had over 40 out of 60 kids make it to round 2 for the Hunter admission in January 2009 – pretty impressive when you know that only 6% of the kids that took the test for Hunter made that second round.

In our program, we do two things –
1. we work on developing their cognitive thinking skills, which will stay with them through out their entire educational life, and
2. we expose them to the type of questions on the tests. teaching them how to look at the question, analyze it and take their time to come up with the best answer. Many children, even bright ones answer a little too quickly.

When concentrating on the specific OLSAT test prep, we do work with games that develop listening skills because this test specifically gauges the child’s ability to listen and follow directions in the classroom. For the Bracken part (letters, numbers, colors, shapes) of the G&T testing we work on the elements that children miss to insure they know them.

In a word, a very comprehensive program that will boost your child’s success in school no matter the result of an OLSAT, ERB or Stanford-Binet score. An edge that will last a lifetime.

Good luck to all,

Harley Evans

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OLSAT upon us

We are now knee deep in OLSAT / BSRA testing.  Parents are emailing/texting me that they are ill on the appointed day from all of the stress – ready to vomit.  I have a few words of advice – Chill Out! Drink a scotch or do whatever it takes to  keep the stress inside you and away from your child. They are only going to meet a teacher to show them what 4 year olds know.

We had our own little crisis on testing day! Our daughter’s test was on the Lower East Side. We were greeted by a male security guard that told us we should be going to school in our own neighborhood – not there. This made my daughter upset, asking us why they don’t want us – she did not feel welcome to say the least. While waiting, we saw many parents faced with the dilemma of asking to make sure the teacher giving the test spoke some resemblance of English (many teachers did not have this gift of language skill at our location) – we did the same and felt on guard because of this request.  Instead, they gave us a person,  sadly, crippled with an affliction that was scary to our 4 yr. old child. While we can all understand wanting to be politically correct, this is not the time to introduce your child to the unfairness of physical impairments.  A child with no separation issues suddenly began to cling to her mother even as this person promised lollipops afterward – straight out of a witches story in my daughter’s mind. We were forced to ask for a replacement and met with consternation. Another person finally came out asking for my daughter and abruptly took her out of the waiting area. With my stomach in knots, I could only imagine what could happen next?

A friend had told us that a week ago, she was upset that her child had come out from the testing after only 25 minutes. She asked if her child had finished all of the exam and was given the standard reply that it is impossible for the teacher to skip anything, so of course the child had finished. This mother insisted that they check the exam – which they did – to find that indeed, two pages had been skipped over. The only thing this mother could tell us about her testing experience is that if your child comes out sooner than 35 – 40 minutes, then make sure the test was completed. For the most-part, the teachers giving this exam are not well trained and do not care that their input affects the future of the child entrusted to them.  So what happens next to us? … our child comes out after 25 minutes!  … complaining that there are no lollipops!

1. Stay calm, no matter the opposition you face

2. Keep your child free and clear of the stress you feel

3. Bring two books; one to read to your child and then one for yourself

4. Tell your child to show the teacher how smart a 4 yr. old can be

5. Bribes can’t hurt this one time – so promise a treat (lollipop?) afterward

Interview with an OLSAT Tester in NYC

I recently had dinner with a person that gives the OLSAT tests to 4 year olds for the New York City public school system. This person must remain anonymous. It will enlighten many NYC parents though to hear this person’s thoughts as many internet chat rooms and message boards have been buzzing about the injustice of the way they see the test administered. See for yourself…

edgeforlife : Can you tell me from your point of view, the hardest part of giving the test?

tester: Yes, I would say it is not being able to add to the child’s score when I know the child knows the answer. I cannot repeat the question once I have asked it.

edgeforlife : Are there times when you know the child is exceptionally bright but it does not come through in the results?

tester: All the time. There are 40 questions on the OLSAT and the child might breeze through the first 20 with a perfect score, then it’s like they hit a wall with their attention span. They may ask where their mother is or say they want to go home now. I have 20 more questions that we have to go through and 5 kids waiting for me down the hall. What can I do? The rules clearly do not allow me any room here. The child will start missing a few that are clearly easier than some of the others. They just want to get it over and leave. I know they are smarter than what is coming across but my hands are tied. I have to record the answers.

edgeforlife: Parents are worried that if they do something to prepare their child for the test that their child will be penalized. Can you comment on this?

tester: Of course, I can understand why they might be worried. There is no way we can be sure if a child has been prepped but to be honest, it might help speed the process along. A child who can answer the questions smoothly and help me get them through it is going to be a joy not a big red flag. The most important part of getting the child help would be in the form of getting them to listen to questions from a stranger. That is basically what we are judging here, will the child listen to directions and pay attention in class. If they can learn this in a prep class then they will be prepared for the rest of their life.

edgeforlife: Thank you. This has been a very informative interview for our readers and clients. It would appear we are on the right track with our prep programs. Do you have anything to add?

tester: Just that, helping your child to understand how to take the test will help them immensely. Would you send them to take the SAT without understanding how to take it?

edgeforlife : Thanks again for your time.

Wishes for Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all of our wonderful mothers. You bring so much into the lives of those youthful eyes that look up to you. In their eyes you can do no wrong.

We have been celebrating Mother’s Day in our home since Friday night – it has become Mother’s Weekend. Lucky Mom.

I once read that when you educate a future mother, you educate an entire family. I read this about 20 years ago and have often thought about its meaning. Now, this may sound sexist in today’s modern world, where women are “bringing home the bacon” on the same level as the men, but women still hold the most influence over their children’s lives and the direction of their education. We fathers, may think we have some say, but we all know that mothers have a gentle way of persuasion that renders fathers helpless in its wake.

 So today, as I reflect in celebration for my wife and my mother, I see in my daughter’s eyes future generations of children that will be affected by the choices made in her education today.  It is a responsibility that I do not take lightly. It is the reason why I chose to hold the separate sessions in the summer science camp for girls.

A couple of facts to take into consideration. NYC school science programs are lacking and only held about once a week. The goal I set for my program is to help motivate young students to take an interest in science and how it plays a part of our everyday lives. Once they develop the interest they can use that motivation to take them anywhere. Our philosophy is about motivation and overcoming the failures that prevent our children from reaching their potential. Our daughters, and future mothers, deserve our best efforts to help them achieve successful lives and homes.

Have a great day.

A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with One Step…

I have been a member of the Wall Street community for over 15 years. A past member of the American Stock Exchange, trading equity and fixed income derivatives for clients and my own account. I co-founded an investment strategy research group called The Alpha Generation (www.thealphageneration.com). I privately coach Wall Street traders to help them stay on top of their game and to help them master the risk – reward scenario.

I have been involved in educational research from the time I was a graduate student working on my M.A. in Social Sciences at the University of Chicago, until today, helping children navigate the gifted and talented programs of New York.

My journey began many years ago, when my youngest brother showed signs of “special” talent. He could read at 3, taught himself Spanish at 4 and to play the piano by 6. He entered kindergarten and was labeled a trouble maker by first grade. He explained, to anyone who would listen, that school was boring. Our family did not know what to do. He was finally tested in third grade and moved into a special program 3 days a week. It was too late. He had already lost 4 years of motivation and viewed school as dull and unfulfilling. Over time, seeing my family’s disappointment in our educational system, I studied the academic research on “giftedness” and learning challenges for children. I saw the potential to apply these strategies as well as solutions for the problems of ADD (attention deficit disorder)to dilemmas affecting “adult” life challenges. I eventually used the literature to develop motivational strategies that I applied to my trading business. Trading is laden with disappointment and fertile ground for individuals in need of motivation. This approach proved to be successful and left me wondering what other problems could be solved in this manner.

This brings us to the present day. I now have children ranging from preschool to college and one presently in a G&T program in NYC. I almost lost this child to the boredom of the NYC school system. I applied the motivational program for traders to her. It was fun. She loved it and loved the challenge the program created. As a father to this pre-tween girl and having been through this process with a son a few years ago, I understand the challenge facing us as parents to help them balance their educational needs with those of being apart of the rest of the world. I mean, Miley Cyrus needs fans, right? They are growing up in an entirely different world than we faced or our parents dealt with when raising us. Being able to rely on our schools, whether public or private, to educate our children is a fictional story we read long ago. Which brings me to the reason I started this blog and this company. We are sharing this program with others to motivate them to seek success. I believe we need to give our children the best education possible for their skill set. The answer starts with us, as parents, to keep them motivated and to eliminate the negative thoughts that prevent them from reaching their potential. I am very passionate about this curriculum to motivate youth to reach that potential. I will be writing about some of my findings and thoughts on the challenges of educating our children that can help us all excel in life. I am a life long researcher on how we can use education to advance our life’s ambition and I will try to share as much as possible to those of you who care to improve your own lives, as well as those of your children.