Thursday, September 16, 2010

IQ Fun Park

I have lots of opinions. Too many, some might say! But sometimes, Gifted Exchange readers, I come across things that I really just have no idea what to think about.

That's where I am right now with the IQ Fun Park, a board game for the CandyLand set (hat tip to Executive Moms, which covered the game in the group's newsletter). Billed as "Test prep that feels like a game!" the IQ Fun Park helps prepare 4-year-olds for elementary school testing with 1,500 practice items based on the WPPSI-III, the Stanford-Binet 5, the OLSAT and BBCS tests. You can choose just questions from one test (I guess the idea is why bother with the others if your kid only has to take one?) or all four. The idea is to "prepare your child without pressure, expensive tutors, or workbooks," though billing IQ Fun Park as cheap only works if you're comparing it to 20 hours with a $100/hour tutor. At $297, it's not in the same ball park as Life or Monopoly.

I am curious what you all think of this. I have two initial observations. One is that something like this is inevitable in markets where the supply of spots in "good" kindergartens exceeds demand. There is also the corollary of gifted programs being life rafts (the only good spot in a failing school system), as opposed to interventions for kids who need them, and no better or worse than other classes.

The other observation, though, is that I am always skeptical of what test prep can do. People talk that the SAT can be prepped for and all that, but the vast, vast majority of kids who go through test prep programs do not get 2400s on the SAT. High scores still mean something, and I suspect that even a fun game won't totally change how a child will do on the Stanford Binet.


hschinske said...

Oh, ICK. That's appalling. And check this out, from the first link:

Because of a hearing problem, his scores were abysmal – 37th percentile. “Your child will never be able to function in a regular classroom,” I was told.

Okay, (a) she never mentions the hearing problem again (so did they fix that, or what? surely it's a whole lot more important than his test score?), and (b) how dumb do you have to be to think that THIRTY-SEVEN PERCENT of the population cannot function in a regular classroom?

And you know what IQ is at the 37th percentile? NINETY-FIVE. That's right. Barely, BARELY below average, and that at age three, when a huge part of the population is not really even testable.

Now that I think about it, I'm getting the feeling that the game designer mixed up 37th percentile and an IQ of 37, which makes me even less inclined to trust her judgment.

Moreover, if those test questions really do closely resemble the ones on the actual tests, that's an extreme violation of testing protocol. Many of the questions could be prepped for. If they don't closely resemble the test questions, it's highly likely you can find ways to practice such skills just as effectively for MUCH MUCH MUCH less money.

Anonymous said...

I have the game and I believe it helped my child because questions are asked a certain way on the test and if your child is not familiar with terms and ways the tester uses it would count against them even if they understand the concepts. It certainly isn't going to turn your average child into a gifted one but it will help ensure that they have a chance at getting into a program that challenges them at the level they need. My 3 children are part of a gifted program at Johns Hopkins University.