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.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Content

Kindergarten Readiness: 'Redshirt' or Enroll?

The option to enroll a child who is not quite 5 years old — or who may have just turned 5 — often complicates parents’ decision-making process.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

January 2018

Run Club meets every Sunday at 8 a.m. in Midtown Raleigh or Wake Forest. Stroller friendly; children invited. 

Cost: $10/run or $100/annual pass

Where:
Optimist Park Community Center/Greenways
5900 Whittier Drive
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: FIT4MOM
Telephone: 919-348-0472
Contact Name: Missy Currin
Website »

More information

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

More information

Dress in your princess best and enjoy magical activities and delightful treats with a princess. Registration required online; limited availability. Choose from either the 10:30 a.m. or 2 p.m....

Cost: $15/member, $20/nonmember

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
Website »

More information

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

More information

Enjoy live entertainment, hands-on projects and gallery hunts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Experience the excitement of the NFC and AFC Championship games with 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalist Torry Holt and former NFL star Terrence Holt at this one-of-a-kind fundraiser to...

Cost: $25-$150

Where:
William Neal Reynolds Coliseum
2411 Dunn Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Website »

More information

Children make treasured memories while increasing their knowledge of plants and animals. Ages 7-10. Register online.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Women's Voices Chorus Winter concert, Song of the Universal, expores themes of war, the wish for peace, and the redemptive powers of nature, love and mercy.  Music will include works by...

Cost: $17/adult, $7/student

Where:
University United Methodist Church
150 E. Franklin St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27714
View map »


Sponsor: Women's Voices Chorus
Telephone: 919-307-6860
Contact Name: Publicity Chair
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Make a craft and enjoy tea with Belle. Ages 3-5. Register online. Choose course #110646.

Cost: $16/resident, $28/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn to make appetizers. Ages 11-14. Register online. Choose course #110048.

Cost: $35/resident, $46/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Take part in Open Studio Explorations, which are open-ended experiences in which children can use the materials in the studio to create at their own pace. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Our PlayHouse Preschool
3501 Hwy. 54 West
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
View map »


Telephone: (919)967-2700
Contact Name: Elizabeth Lenn
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Children delight in discoveries of shapes, colors and textures in nature. Ages 1 and older with parent. Registration required.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Enjoy stories with Amy Godfrey.

Cost: Free

Where:
The Regulator Bookshop
720 Ninth St.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn to prepare a meal inspired from Japan. Register online. Choose course #109615.

Cost: $35/resident, $46/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Children delight in discoveries of shapes, colors and textures in nature. Ages 1 and older with parent. Registration required.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Parents and their children ages 18 months to 4 years enjoy storytime, craft and snack. Contact Sarah Rapp to RSVP. srapp@saintraphael.org or 919-865-5725

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Sarah Rapp
Website »

More information

Ages 18 months-4 years enjoy storytime, craft and snack. RSVP by emailing Sarah Rapp at srapp@saintraphael.org or calling 919-865-5725

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Sarah Rapp
Website »

More information

Kids ages 11 and older test their knowledge of New Year's traditions, music, movies and more. Register online. Choose course #111618.

Cost: $2/resident, $3/nonresident

Where:
Cary Senior Center
120 Maury O'Dell Place
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Website »

More information

Parents learn strategies for helping raise a child when a sibling has special needs. Register online. Choose course #11159.

Cost: $11/resident, $15/nonresident

Where:
Cary Senior Center
120 Maury O'Dell Place
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Website »

More information

See Agatha Christie's stage version of her best-selling mystery novel. The story tells of ten strangers mysteriously brought together for a holiday on a deserted island, each hiding a murderous...

Cost: See the website for fees.

Where:
Holly Springs Cultural Center
300 W. Ballentine St.
Holly Springs, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Learn how to help your baby excel in motor development and master tummy time. Tummy time is a foundational skill for developing strong babies, and this class is appropriate for newborns and beyond....

Cost: $30

Where:
Baby + Company
226 Ashville Ave
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Telephone: 773-495-8117
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

More information

Read "Dragons Love Tacos" by Adam Rubin and make tacos for dragons. Register online. Choose course #109611.

Cost: $23/resident, $30/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

A wonderfully kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified & participatory music show. Children delight in...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump It Up Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
View map »


Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
Website »

More information

Youth ages 9-13 find out how not to be fooled by Fool’s Gold. Learn how geologists test minerals by using properties like hardness, streak, color, luster, and acid reactivity, then...

Cost: $6

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson staff
Website »

More information

See Agatha Christie's stage version of her best-selling mystery novel. The story tells of ten strangers mysteriously brought together for a holiday on a deserted island, each hiding a murderous...

Cost: See the website for fees.

Where:
Holly Springs Cultural Center
300 W. Ballentine St.
Holly Springs, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Take part in fun, hands-on science experiments, which include chemistry, physics, materials and an engineering experiment. See website for ages and times. Register online. 

Cost: $55/child

Where:
SMILE Camp
6301 Hillsborough St.
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: SMILE Camp
Telephone: 919-538-5278
Contact Name: Sheila Marsh
Website »

More information

Learn to make cupcakes with a winter wonderland theme. Ages 11 and older. Register online. Choose course #111457.

Cost: $26/resident, $34/nonresident

Where:
Middle Creek Community Center
123 Middle Creek Dr.
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Website »

More information

Take 3-5 gently used books for a discount or purchase a book to donate for a discount. Read A. Roo and other guest readers will be present.

Cost: Free

Where:
Read With Me Book Shop
111 E. Hargett St., #110
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn to identify common winter birds by sight and sound. Visit a bird-feeding station for up-close encounters, learn how to be a citizen scientist, and take home a feeder and identification...

Cost: $8/member, $10/nonmember

Where:
North Carolina Botanical Garden
100 Old Mason Farm Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27517
View map »


Sponsor: North Carolina Botanical Garden
Telephone: 919-537-3770
Contact Name: Elisha Taylor
Website »

More information

Enjoy all things LEGO at this festival that features creative displays and more. Organized by the North Carolina LEGO Users Group.

Cost: Free

Where:
Morehead Planetarium and Science Center
250 E. Franklin St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn how to navigate the college search and application process, prepare for college entrance exams, and more. Ages 12 and older with parent. Register online. Choose course #109354.

Cost: $5/resident, $6/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore the historic heart of downtown Raleigh on a walking tour of Fayetteville Street. Tours highlight the people, places, architecture and political movements that have shaped...

Cost: Adults (18+) $10; Youth (7-17) $4; Children (6 & under) Free.

Where:
City of Raleigh Museum
220 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Gather your recyclables or use some at the preserve and enjoy relay challenges. Take part in engineering feats like bridge building and egg drops using recyclables. Hot chocolate...

Cost: $4/person

Where:
Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Website »

More information

Participants develop their naturalist skills and understanding of local nature. Ages 5-8 with parent. Register online.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

See Agatha Christie's stage version of her best-selling mystery novel. The story tells of ten strangers mysteriously brought together for a holiday on a deserted island, each hiding a murderous...

Cost: See the website for fees.

Where:
Holly Springs Cultural Center
300 W. Ballentine St.
Holly Springs, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit Module

Magazine

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Directories

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2017-18 Education Guide offers 660 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our debut Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. Plus, find out who our 2017 Readers' Favorites are.