More on Talent Searches

So as I said, we are thinking of enrolling Violet in the Midwest Academic Talent Search, through Northwestern University of Chicago. We don’t live close enough to Chicago to make real use of their on-site programs, at least not until Violet is old enough for their on-campus summer programs for teens, so I’m trying to figure out the benefit of the program (and there are others like it around the country). As Jove asked, “Why would I subject my girl to this?” Here’s the full list of benefits cited on the MATS website.

A Student Guide, sent prior to taking the test, that offers test-taking strategies, test information, and career planning suggestions
The Educational Program Guide, a listing of schools and programs for academically talented students in the Midwest and the United States
A Planning and Resource Guide, with guidelines and suggestions in selecting coursework and extracurricular activities in math, science, social science and the humanities matched to students’ scores
Talent, a CTD newsletter that contains articles and research geared toward gifted students, their parents, and teachers
A Statistical Summary and Interpretation Report, which summarizes the scores of all students who participated in the Midwest Academic Talent Search so students can compare their scores to those of other gifted students and to those of older students who typically take the tests
An Individualized Long-Range Academic Plan based on the student’s scores and MATS percentile that will help students and their families plan their coursework through the end of high school
For qualifying students, an invitation to the CTD Summer Program at Northwestern University, as well as to other summer programs in the Midwest
A Certificate of Recognition for participation in MATS
Mailings throughout high school from summer programs and special schools
An invitation to participate in future talent searches
For highest scorers, an invitation to a prestigious award ceremony held at Northwestern University
For highest scorers, scholarships for academic programs
The College Guide, a magazine which features articles on college admissions and will help students get started on the college planning process

So much of that doesn’t apply to us/isn’t that important to us — although geez, every other kid is getting a certificate for this or that, so can’t my homeschooler get one too? — but I am very curious about the planning tools offered. That’s why I’m trying to find others who’ve done MATS at the first year of eligibility. We don’t really need any career counseling or college planning yet — though at this accelerated pace I do get nervous about suddenly being at a high school level and having no clue what to do. Likewise I want to have some recent testing for anything that requires proof of advanced ability.

“Thinking” is the stage we’re at right now. I don’t think Violet will be too stressed by the testing — she thoroughly enjoyed all the testing she was subjected to around grade acceleration. Poor thing, it was about the only time a school official seemed aware that she knew how to read and understood basic arithmatic. No wonder she loved it. (I exaggerate, her KG teacher was great.) She seemed genuinely pleased to be thinking for a change. Of course the situation is different now, so she might not view a test in the same way.

We actually did a small practice section yesterday, 10 questions on a reading passage. She got one question wrong, and I had to laugh because it was one of those “choose the best sentence” questions, which I find so subjective. Before I gave her the test I thought to myself, “The answer is A, but I bet anything she picks C.” And so she did! It gave us a good chance to talk about testing, testmaker’s expectations, etc.

If we learn anything of use to other parents I’ll let you know.



Filed under Gifted Ed, Resources -- Education, Resources -- Gifted

9 responses to “More on Talent Searches

  1. Hi,
    My son took the EXPLORE last winter through MATS as a 3rd grader. I was hoping for more from the “planning guide” in the sense that their IEP was not so individualized — essentially, it says if the scores are in range X, offer enrichment/gifted program; range Y, accelerate and enrichment; range Z, accelrate more grades and..whatever. But all in all I’m glad he took it for several reasons. First, it gives us a benchmark for future tests and points out any gaps (we homeschool). Second, it gives timed testing experience. Third, during the test I did some networking with other parents of gifted children and found out about some excellent opportunities we’ve since taken advantage of. Last, I think it gave my son a big confidence boost in his abilities while at the same time showing him there’s more to learn. And next year good scores could qualify him for scholarships for their programs.

    I have been very tempted by the online classes, but lately on a mailing list I’m on I’ve heard they’re not really worth the cost. I’m still investigating that. I LOVE the idea of the residential programs, but we’re in Michigan and I think I’d wait until son is in 7th or 8th at the soonest to look more into that.

    Hope this helps some,

  2. I don’t want to sound critical and I’m glad you didn’t take my question that way. And I have never had Tigger tested for giftedness though I suspect she’d qualify. I guess that personally, I have become quite suspicious of the achievement orientation of our culture and the fact that if you are good at something, people expect you to push yourself to do more. And I’m not sure why.

    I can really see that gifted kids need to have activities that engage them and in which they can use their talents and really feel like they are learning. The fact that a kid can read at 3rd grade level at age 5 is no reason to stagnate until age 8 so she can learn to read at a higher level.

    But I’m not so sure that the school system has the best model of what might be worth learning, especially for kids like ours who can learn more quickly than others. And most of the things on that list sound useless to me.

    I guess I am coming more to the view that one advantage of the fact that our kids are ahead of where anyone wants them to be is that we can try things and if they don’t work, it’s okay. It’s not like our kids will be behind.

    So while planning sounds like a really scary thing and it might be nice to have some ideas from someone else to help make that work, I wonder if those planning tools are going to be any good for your PARTICULAR kid. They are unlikely to have any sense of what things she gets really excited about. Or what opportunities there might be in her helping her litte sister to learn new things. Or what kinds of things you as a family are interested in doing together that could have real learning benefits.

    So I guess in that line you have about the planning tools being attractive, I hear a little bit of your lack of confidence in being able to be the best mom you can to this special girl. And I want to say that you don’t need a crutch. You need to trust yourself. You noticed that school wasn’t working. You got her tested. You eventually took her out and started homeschooling. She’s thriving. And YOU did that.

    Does she need to compare herself to others? And is there anything that another test score will get you that you really need. For you (collectively). Not for what other people think you should do with her “potential”.

    This is way to long. And I don’t want to sound dismissive. I just want to say that you might be looking outside yourself instead of inside yourself.

  3. J

    I had K do the CTY Talent Search last year. Was it worth it? I still don’t know. She got a nice certificate. We didn’t take any of the classes, or do summer camps, though. So I’m not sure there was a lot of benefit. Then again, it didn’t HURT anything, so maybe we will do it again. LOL

  4. Sandy

    Looks like we may be setting up some kind of coop/homeschool situation. I’m curious – does your coop pay each other? We’re worried about legal and financial entanglements. My head has nearly exploded several time in the last couple of weeks. Ex-husband and I had the biggest, nastiest fight since the divorce. Do I trust the other co-op members? Do I like their children? Visiting public schools. On and on.

  5. shaunms

    I’m on my way to co-op now — I’ll see if I can learn anything about how they set things up. I just pay a fee per year/per class and act as a volunteer for one class — “room mom” for the preschool science class for our youngest.
    The co-op is in its 3rd year — my first year of participating — and is pretty big (a few preschool classes, plus 3 other levels up to the 11+ classes), so my experience may not be at all relevant. Are you doing tutors or sharing the teaching among parents? My money goes towards teachers (who are not parents in the co-op) plus expenses involved in maintaining the location (donation to the church facility, office supplies (paper, name tag), art supplies for art class). Parents support the co-op by volunteering in other ways.
    Have your husband give you my e-mail address! (I’m out most of the day and night tonight, but can e-mail or phone tomorrow or this weekend if you like.)

  6. There are lots of ways to set up co-ops including small ones that are basically just a group of homeschoolers who spend time together and take turns teaching something. I’m in a group that is just 4 families. Last year we met once a week for a couple of hours (1 hour learning activity; 1 hour play) and we changed house every week. This year we are going in 3 or 4 week blocks so each of us can get more into a topic.

    We’re just drawing on each other’s strengths. For example, one mom is a nurse and is going to do a block on the body.

  7. Well, I have heard of EXPLORE, but have no experience with it.

    I think testing can be a good thing, and it sounds like you have a purpose in mind. Why not take advantage of what there is to offer? Even if some of the opportunities don’t suit her interests, when an activity comes along that interests she can take advantage of it.

  8. Tinkerbell

    My son is in his second year with the CTY talent search. He did the Rocky Mountain Talent Search last year and then went to a week long summer camp at Denver University. He realized that he can like school and learning and not be “weird.”Other than camp we didn’t do much the first year. I was starting to think it was a waste until he asked me if he could do it again this year. This year he decided to try the EPGY Talent search as well. He was given a scholarship to summercamp and is very excited. He is taking math through Stanford and has taken a few classes through John Hopkins. I know it sounds like a lot, but he really enjoys the classes and they have helped him learn to communicate with other adults. Stanfords prices are lower than John Hopkins but John Hopkins has a much better selection for younger kids. I let him choose what he wants to do and have been very impressed with the curiculum and the teachers. Give it a chance, every child is different and you won’t know how helpful it is for them until you try it.

  9. Dana

    I see this thread is old, but wanted to put my two cents in for the CTY program. My 3rd grader recently qualified for the program and we love the online class he’s taking so much that we’ve pulled him out of school (he was in it only part time, anyway) and will be homeschooling him full time, making full use of all the CTY online courses he wants/is eligible to take. Looking ahead to middle/high school, they offer a full repertoire of AP classes online, so I won’t have to worry about teaching my kid AP physics and calculus and such….

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