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'Kindercramming' Gaining Popularity

For years, New York City parents have paid as much as $1,000 for "kindercramming" boot camps and tutoring sessions to prepare their preschoolers for kindergarten entrance exams, reports the Chicago Tribune. And now, parents in Chicago are starting to do the same.

Since many of Chicago's public schools are underperforming and private schools are often cost-prohibitive, many parents apply to get their children into classical and gifted kindergarten programs, which only accept a select number of students based on test scores. Kids are tested on skills such as sounding out words, identifying continents, and recognizing patterns. With more than 3,000 applicants for only 500 spots in all of Chicago Public Schools' selective enrollment programs, some schools have rejected students scoring in the 98th percentile, according to the Tribune.

To beat out the competition, parents have resorted to hiring tutors and giving their 3- and 4-year olds practice tests.

But school officials discourage "kindercramming" to avoid misplacement of students. "We don't want them to come in and do well because they've been prepped, but then be in an environment that's two grades above their level," Abigayil Joseph, the head of CPS' Office of Academic Enhancement told the paper.

"It's just yet another example that the country has gone test crazy," said Robert Schaeffer, public education director for FairTest, a nonprofit dedicated to ending the misuse of standardized testing.

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