From Insideschools by Judy Baum:
Dear Judy,

I have a son in a private school and I would like him to apply to public middle schools. I have been told that he will need to take the public school New York state exam in the spring of 4th grade year in order to apply to public middle schools. Is this the correct procedure? Is it possible for him to take this exam? Can he take gifted and talented testing?

Private school mom

Dear Private School Mom,

No need for your son to take the New York State standardized tests. It is true that middle schools (particularly the selective ones) use 4th grade state test scores as a criteria for acceptance. But schools are savvy they are aware that most private schools don't administer those tests. Instead, they will use your child's grades and attendance record as benchmarks for placement. There are other criteria that schools use for both public school and private school kids. Many ask kids to submit portfolios of school work. Some give their own exams or auditions, and many hold interviews -- a good chance for your child to show his best strengths. In these cases, standardized tests are just part of the mix.

One caution: some middle schools ask for guidance counselor recommendations. This can be a problem for private school kids, since the schools usually want to hold on to their tuition-paying students. They may not be as cooperative as you like in making recommendations or in passing along records in a timely way.

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