Jacqui (jacqui) wrote,

What To Do When People Are Mean, Applying to Private Schools, and the ISEE Test.

I'm so angry, but at least I stood up for myself so that helped me feel a bit better. I called the cold, heartless bastards at the ISEE testing office today, because they've proved themselves to be incompetent, and I need to be certain everything is on track with Beau's school applications. As usual they were cold and heartless, robotic and surly. This has been my experience every single time I have had to call this office. So finally today, fed up with giving this man chances to be just a tad warmer than an ice flow, I asked to speak to his supervisor.

I rarely ever do this, my policy has been, for some time now, that when a person is off or even plain mean, I won't say anything. Everyone can have a bad day. What I do instead is to save it up for the good guys. When someone is kind I'll ask to see their manager or supervisor and tell them what a great employee they have. This seems like the best way to handle this, karma-wise, and it makes me feel good to be helpful rather than angry and negative. However, when someone is repeatedly unkind, despite many chances to perk up and be humane, and I've even tried discussing it with them, explained my position, how I feel as a result of their frosty insensitive demeanor, and they still don't care, when several people in the same office are all just as nasty, it's time to call the supervisor and exert my consumer power, take out my intelligent ability to communicate, as it were, and stab them with it.

Basically, for those of you who aren't caught up in the hellish process that is applying to private schools for your children in Los Angeles, the ISEE is a test that middle school and high school kids have to take when applying to a private school. It's like the SAT, just as scary and stressful for the kids. You wake them up early in the morning, try to feed them a hearty breakfast, prepare a snack, make sure they have enough number two lead pencils, drive out to some far away place, turn your child over to some test monitor, hug them and wave good-bye, and then stand around in a parking lot for four hours, with lots of other nervous parents, comparing notes and trying not to feel inferior to whatever super Mom or Dad, standing next to you, has managed to get six of their seven children in to the finest schools in the land.

You can spend thousands of dollars for test prep classes or buy books and try to help them get used to the format yourself. The schools tell you not to do anything, that this test is just to get an idea of where your child falls on the bell curve, that they want to see what their natural score is. Whatever, the truth is that they have hundreds of applicants for a very few spaces and need some criteria to weed kids out by. Schools are judged by the percentile of graduates that gain admission into prestigious colleges, so the smarter the kids going in, hopefully, the smarter they'll be going out, and thereby the prestige of the school is maintained or increased.

I think it's really a sad thing because it isn't about taking children and helping them grow or fostering a love of education, it becomes about force feeding facts and competitive rote learning. I hated it when I was a kid, and of course Beau hates it now. I just pray that the two schools I've chosen fall away from this standard. I think Crossroads, despite it's artsy reputation, may have succumbed. Their director left to form New Roads and I guess I'll have to hang my hopes on them. It's just so sad that there are so many hurdles to overcome, that even if you can afford to send your child to a good private school that costs somewhere in the neighborhood of fourteen thousand dollars a year, there's only about a ten to twenty percent chance you'll be able to get them in.

Beau's Scores

Scale - 850
Percentile - 50
Stanine - 5

Scale - 862
Percentile - 55
Stanine - 5

Scale - 846
Percentile - 41
Stanine - 5

Scale - 852
Percentile - 45
Stanine - 5

I'm really mad at myself because Beau is this super bright kid. I think if he did really average on this test, it's because I wasn't one of those parents who pushed hard for him in advance of his taking it. I didn't know about test preparation classes or I probably would have had him take them. He was assessed as being intellectually gifted and moved in to the GATE (Gifted and Talented Exceptional) program at his school, something I have all kinds of qualms about, but this is long enough and I won't go in to that now. I always scored in the ninety-fifth percentile on everything, without ever having to prepare so I figured he would too. He never took a test like this before, although maybe none of the other kids did either, but from the conversations with the other parents, a lot of those kids were hyper prepared. Oh Lord what a big drag.


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