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Can standardized test scores in young children predict academic success?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Starting at a very early age, your child will be subjected to lots of standardized tests. While these tests are good measures for how a child performs compared to other children of the same age, they are not always a good measure of creativity or something called task persistence (both of which are also markers for success academically and professionally). The problem is that the younger the age at which the test is given, the less accurate it is at predicting a child's future smarts. Only about 25 percent of kindergartners who are classified as gifted would still merit that label by the time they reach the third grade. The issue isn't with the tests, it's that kids are too underdeveloped at kindergarten level for tests to accurately assess skills that are important for future tasks.

The take-home: Being classified as gifted can be a wonderful opportunity for some kids, but it's not the be-all and end-all. Just because your child didn't score well the first time doesn't mean she won't later, and just because she tested well early doesn't mean she'll be ready to meet the demands down the line. So be in tune not just to scores but to how she's keeping up with classes, homework (as she graduates to that), and all the factors that play a role in her education. And please be careful about putting too much pressure (or stimulation) on a child; rather, nurture her motivation. The pressure of being in an environment where the bar is set too high puts kids at a higher risk of problems than they would have had if they had just stayed the course of where they should naturally be academically.

YOU: Raising Your Child: The Owner's Manual from First Breath to First Grade

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YOU: Raising Your Child: The Owner's Manual from First Breath to First Grade

There’s little doubt that parenting can be one of the most rewarding and satisfying experiences you’ll ever have. But it can be plenty tough, too: Around the clock, you’re working to keep your...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.