Testing Preschoolers

What to know about testing for admission to private and charter schools, or early admission to kindergarten.


Published:

Testing has trickled down to the very youngest of students. While the process may involve blocks and pictures rather than pen and paper, tests for preschoolers still measure what a child knows.

The results may be required for applications to prestigious private or charter schools, or for early admission to public kindergarten. The most widely used early tests assess a child’s IQ and early reading and math skills. Most schools require parents to have their child privately tested, which can cost up to $500.

Graham Hunter, who owns QC Psychology in Charlotte, says his office frequently receives calls from parents who want to have their preschooler tested. In these cases, a staff member administers the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI), which measures IQ, as well as math and reading aptitude. The test typically begins by asking the child to manipulate blocks to match patterns.

“If you do it right, it doesn’t feel like an academic test,” Hunter says. “It’s more like playing a board game.”

 

Public and Private School Requirements

In 1997, the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 1099 recommending that 4-year-olds being considered for admittance to public school kindergarten score in the 98th percentile or higher on intelligence tests, function one or two years ahead of their peers, and be motivated and interested in kindergarten.

Local school systems also set their own criteria. The Wake County Public School System, for example, requires reading, writing and IQ tests; samples of the child’s work; and two letters of recommendation.

Like public schools, private schools use test scores and other factors to determine if a child is a good fit for their program. At Charlotte Latin School, all kindergarten applicants must visit the school, as well as take the WPSSI and a play-based “readiness” assessment that shows the child’s ability to complete a task, follow multistep directions and get along with others.

Mary York Oates, Charlotte Latin director of admissions, says the school looks for average to high-average intelligence on all WPSSI scales and a steady pattern of results on subtests. Charlotte Latin’s year of entry is designed for 5-year-olds, and the first year of school is tailored for kindergarten-eligible children. Oates says the school likes to accept children when they have had preschool experience that prepares them for school.

“Time is one of the most precious commodities for our youngest learners, and we believe development cannot be rushed,” Oates says.

 

The Benefits of Testing

Testing can be advantageous when children are highly intelligent, gaining them access to rigorous academic programs and other specialized educational opportunities. Jan Badger of Winston-Salem had her daughter, Maddie, tested for early admittance to public school kindergarten. By age 4, Maddie was reading, knew all of her numbers and was “very friendly and outgoing and socially older than what normal 4-year-olds were like,” Badger says.

Maddie had attended preschool, but Badger felt that her daughter would be bored at home for another year. The school system required private testing by a psychologist, and the family had to submit the results and a portfolio of Maddie’s work.

When Badger took her daughter for testing, which was done in short increments over two days, she told Maddie that a special doctor wanted to find out what she knew.

“I told her she wasn’t going to be in trouble if she didn’t do well,” Badger says. “I didn’t want to push her if she wasn’t ready. I just wanted to know if she was ready.”  

As it turned out, Maddie tested successfully for early entry into kindergarten.

There are other benefits. Testing at any level, including preschool, also offers additional insight into a student’s mind and personality that can be helpful to school admissions administrators.

“The testing often validates something else we see,” Oates says. “A child with steady scores will often have an easy time transitioning during our visit. A child that is very shy might score higher in the nonverbal areas of the normed assessment.”

A discrepancy in subtest scores may indicate that a child needs a little more time to mature, Oates says.

 

Think Before You Test

Hunter says staff members at QC Psychology, which offers a variety of psychological services in addition to early kindergarten testing, often try to talk parents out of testing for early admission if the child doesn’t appear to be in the top 2 percent.  He stresses that average intelligence isn’t a negative.

“Average is good because everything is developing normally,” Hunter says. “(But) it’s not what the public schools are looking for (in early testing results).”

Before testing a child, Hunter recommends parents consider their motives and realistically look at their child’s intelligence and social maturity.

Badger didn’t take the decision to enroll Maddie in kindergarten early lightly. She talked to her sister-in-law, whose child also started kindergarten at age 4, and considered all aspect of her daughter’s readiness for school.

“I’ve talked to other people who have perfectly smart kids who were not ready to enter school,” Badger says. “Everybody thinks their kid’s a genius, but they really have to have the personality for it, too.”

Maddie is now 9 and in fifth grade. She takes advanced math, and schoolwork comes easy for her.

“I know it would have been even worse if we had waited a year,” Badger says. “(Early testing) was worth it for us.”

 

Marty Minchin is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, where she lives with her husband and two children.


EARLY TESTING Q&A

Before having your preschooler tested, consider these things.

When is the optimal time to test for admission to school? In the spring or summer before the start of the school year in which the child would enroll.

How much does it cost? Typically between $175 and $500. An IQ test can cost $300, and early reading and writing tests will add to that cost.

Can my child prepare for the test? No. But you can make sure your child is rested and has a good breakfast.

Can I sit in? No. The test takes less than an hour. Parents are typically asked to wait outside.

What does the test measure? The Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence, which tests IQ, also measures visual-spatial processing, verbal reasoning and comprehension, fluid reasoning, memory, perception speed and concentration.

What does the score mean? A child who scores in the 75th percentile performed better than 75 percent of children of the same chronological age. Scores in the 50th percentile are average and age-appropriate.

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Website »

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Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
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Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

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Live online classes for kids - FREE! Kids and families can join our online classes from home while school is out. Our special guests teach kids about art, medicine, music, cooking, science and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online at your Home
265 Cambridge Ave #60923
Palo Alto, NC  94306
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Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: 800-437-6125
Contact Name: Mabelle
Website »

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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

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It's time to play... TAKEOUT BINGO!!!  Take a screenshot or download the game board. Mark off the locations you visit. Share your progress on Facebook and Instagram using #CRTakeoutBingo. Send...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Crossroads Plaza
Crossroad Blvd
Suite 215
Cary, NC  27518
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Sponsor: Crossroads Plaza/ Kimco Realty
Telephone: 864-979-2291
Contact Name: Katie Earnhardt
Website »

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We invite all Triangle youth between the ages of 8 thru 17 with a sincere interest in the Performance Art of Magic to join Magic Youth Raleigh! This youth program teaches magic history and theory,...

Cost: $35 per Student

Where:
New Horizons Fellowship
820 E. Williams St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
Website »

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Art Walk featuring local galleries and artist studios in historic downtown Hillsborough on the Last Friday of every month (no Art Walk in December).

Cost: FREE

Where:
Downtown Hillsborough (multiple locations)
102 N. Churton St.
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Hillsborough Arts Council
Telephone: 919-643-2500
Contact Name: Torey Mishoe
Website »

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River Jam at the U.S. National Whitewater Center brings together live musical performances throughout the year to a one-of-a-kind outdoor venue, right in the middle of the world’s largest...

Cost: $6

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Contact Name: Jenny Hill
Website »

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The Engage Art Contest is a juried competition for original Visual Art, Music Video, Film and Performing Arts. The topic is the Spiritual Battle described in Ephesians 6:10-20 and related...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online
PO Box 78951
Charlotte, NC  28271
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Sponsor: Engage Art Contest
Telephone: 980-999-1447
Contact Name: Ranika Chaney
Website »

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Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
Website »

More information

Farmers markets are essential to the livelihood of farmers and food producers and are exempt from the Governor's Stay at Home Order (page 6). Farmers markets offer an efficient way for residents to...

Cost: free

Where:
Holly Springs Cultural Center
300 W. Ballentine St.
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Farmers Market Coordinator
Telephone: 919-567-4010
Website »

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PARENTS JOIN OUR DHHS APPROVEDCPR/AED & First Aid Certification ClassesFoster parents are required to be CPR & First Aid certified. Parents, bring your child to class with you. Children 10 years...

Cost: 50-80

Where:
Holly Springs, NC
1001 Silverstone Way
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Save A Life Now Training Center LLC
Telephone: 919-215-6942
Contact Name: Valentina Cordoba
Website »

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PARENTS JOIN OUR DHHS APPROVEDCPR/AED & First Aid Certification ClassesFoster parents are required to be CPR & First Aid certified. Must register in advance. Space is limited. Parents, bring your...

Cost: 50-80

Where:
Holly Springs, NC
1001 Silverstone Way
Holly Springs, NC  27540
View map »


Sponsor: Save A Life Now Training Center LLC
Telephone: 919-215-6942
Contact Name: Valentina Cordoba
Website »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Live online classes for kids - FREE! Kids and families can join our online classes from home while school is out. Our special guests teach kids about art, medicine, music, cooking, science and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online at your Home
265 Cambridge Ave #60923
Palo Alto, NC  94306
View map »


Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: 800-437-6125
Contact Name: Mabelle
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Join one of our talented Mid-South Fencers’ Club coaches for a one hour virtual lesson to the fast paced and exciting sport of Olympic Fencing! This will be a FREE ONLINE class. All you need is...

Cost: free

Where:
Mid-South Fencers' Club ONLINE
125 N. Gregson St.
DURHAM, NC  27701
View map »


Sponsor: Mid-South Fencers' Club
Telephone: 919-286-3100
Contact Name: Jeff Kallio
Website »

More information

It's time to play... TAKEOUT BINGO!!!  Take a screenshot or download the game board. Mark off the locations you visit. Share your progress on Facebook and Instagram using #CRTakeoutBingo. Send...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Crossroads Plaza
Crossroad Blvd
Suite 215
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Sponsor: Crossroads Plaza/ Kimco Realty
Telephone: 864-979-2291
Contact Name: Katie Earnhardt
Website »

More information

We invite all Triangle youth between the ages of 8 thru 17 with a sincere interest in the Performance Art of Magic to join Magic Youth Raleigh! This youth program teaches magic history and theory,...

Cost: $35 per Student

Where:
New Horizons Fellowship
820 E. Williams St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
Website »

More information

The Beaver Queen Pageant is the Triangle’s own special mix of folly, pageantry, and humor. Contestants take on beaver personalities and compete for the title of Beaver Queen with their fashion,...

Cost: free

Where:
Online
, NC


Sponsor: Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association
Telephone: 919-698-9729
Contact Name: Rachel Cohn
Website »

More information

River Jam at the U.S. National Whitewater Center brings together live musical performances throughout the year to a one-of-a-kind outdoor venue, right in the middle of the world’s largest...

Cost: $6

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Contact Name: Jenny Hill
Website »

More information

Get your summer vibes going at the 1st Annual Hubb’s Beach Blast at Hubb’s Farm in Clinton, NC.  Hubb’s Beach Blast will feature two of beach music industry’s top groups, Jim Quick and...

Cost: 20-50

Where:
Hubb's Farm
10276 US HWY 421 N
Clinton, NC  28328
View map »


Sponsor: Hubb's Farm
Telephone: 910-564-6709
Contact Name: Tammy Peterson
Website »

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