The Educational Records Bureau (ERB) has trashed the AABL exam. The AABL exam, administered to prospective kindergarteners since 2014, has been quietly relegated to the dumpster starting this admissions year. Recently, only Riverdale and Horace Mann required the test for admission, but since many families applied there, many students took and prepped for this iPad-administered test.
The AABL measures reading and math skills, skills that are not necessarily developmentally appropriate to the child taking the test. A difficult test, an intelligent child can still score poorly. Repeatedly, I had poor scoring clients still get into Horace Mann and Riverdale, a great relief and joy after families' initial disappointment when their children's scores did not seem to be aligned with their abilities.
With the AABL's demise, there is no standardized test required for admission to NYC private school kindergarten and 1st grade. Testing starts for 2nd grade with the ISEE Primary.
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Now that many affluent families have left the city for spring and summer, some are questioning whether they want to return in the fall.
Here at Abacus Guide, we have seen a rise in families calling us for assistance with late admission to Florida, Hamptons and Upstate New York schools, among other places. Our interviewing and application assistance is useful anywhere. If you are thinking of relocating, we welcome your contact.
Endeavoring to maintain a profitable testing tool despite the COVID pandemic, the Educational Records Bureau (ERB) has redesigned the ISEE private school test so it can be taken by students applying to 5th - 12th grades in their own homes, using their own technology.
Big Brother will be watching. According to the ERB,
Using the student’s computer webcam (or an external camera), the Prometric readiness agent will conduct a live scan of the room and desk area to confirm that it meets security requirements. Additionally, the agent will perform a webcam security inspection of the student’s pockets, sleeves, accessories, and glasses (where applicable).
Once the test launches, the ProProctor unique browser locks down the device that the student is using, so that there is control over the exam experience and the student is unable to access any other programs or screen capture exam content.
Once the test is launched, a certified Prometric proctor will use the webcam to monitor the student for the duration of the test. While the student will not be able to see the Prometric Proctor, they are with the student the entire time and will be able to provide assistance at any point during the test or stop a test if any of the test regulations are violated during the exam.
The remote ISEE has the same test structure as the in-person test. Scores are promised within 2 days.
The SSAT has not yet posted details of their test "SSAT at Home" (so comforting sounding, yes). However, they promise:
For students, the SSAT at Home will have the same content, length, and quality of our traditional SSAT. We hope that you will work with EMA to communicate to families that they can rest easier knowing their educational ambitions for their children won’t be undone, and that this new mode of testing will help both admission officers and EMA manage health and safety concerns of prospective students in the face of this worldwide battle against COVID-19.
Remote testing has raised questions as students can be stymied by their technology. Unlike many colleges, NYC, Westchester and other private schools have not suggested abandoning standardized testing as an admissions standard. Given this, for now, students should assume testing is on.
How is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting NYC and Westchester private school admission? While families are tied up now trying to stay healthy and provisioning, eventually this too shall pass. Whatever happens, the fall 2020 NYC and Westchester private school admissions cycle is not canceled.
NYC private schools are starting to plan what the 2020-2021 admissions picture will look like. The best scenario is it will look exactly the same as usual. The worst? It's good that you're getting familiar with Zoom.
If you're a student who is applying late for fall 2020 admission (which is typical of relocating families and sometimes public school students), you and your parents are interviewing remotely this spring. Definitely easier for middle school and high school applicants than for children applying to kindergarten, unfortunately online interviews are mandatory for everyone.
If God forbid the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and social distancing recommendations continue, online interviewing will be rolled out for fall 2021 admission. Get ready to look good on video!
Private schools need to look good to applicants as well. To show prospective families their stuff, NYC and Westchester private schools are developing and rolling out web tools such as online video conferencing for information sessions and Open Houses, as well as virtual campus tours.
Testing is also still on the table. Some schools and the Educational Records Bureau (ERB) are working on developing and administering online, probably proctored tests.
Thankfully, this is an evolving situation. Everyone--families and school administrators--want social relations and real, unlocked down life to resume, including a normal fall admissions season. As one private school administrator wrote us,
We have not as yet made any determinations about how the admissions process will work. We will wait to see how the situation with the coronavirus unfolds and make appropriate determinations and adjustments over the summer before the fall admissions season begins.
If you need help with the NYC and private school admissions process, contact us to get on our spring and summer schedule. Fortunately, we have been helping families remotely for 20 years, and have a streamlined, efficient and effective online process for school admissions success.
New York City private school kindergarten results are here! Abacus Guide parents are feeling joy. Three emails we received today:
Happy Kindergarten Notification Day! We are thrilled to tell you that we just received an acceptance letter from <elite girls school> (our top choice)!
Thank you for all of your help!
I’m thrilled to report <child> got into <elite boys school>!!!
Thank you so much for all of your advice over the last year. You were amazing. Please let me know if we can ever serve as a reference - we’d be happy to do it.
Here are the results! What a process.
I really want to thank you for everything you have done. Honestly, you’ve been the most helpful of anyone at any point in this entire endeavor. Including my family!