The exam for advanced second-graders

In Israel, there’s a state exam for second-graders that aims to identify advanced students. There are two stages of this exam; the children who pass the first stage go on to the second, more challenging stage. I don’t have all of the information about this exam, but, essentially, children who are identified as “advanced” are then taken out of school on a regular (weekly?) basis and brought to a program with others from across their local municipalities.

Now, this exam is taken in either Hebrew or Arabic among the general population, but recent immigrants to Israel also have the option of taking the exam in English, as the child of a friend of mine did last year.

Without belaboring the following, my wife and I embarked upon a project upon our daughter’s birth, which we have committedly stuck with for more than seven-and-a-half years: I always speak to our child in English, read to her in English, and teach her to speak, read, and write in English, while my wife consistently does exactly the same thing in Russian… And, since our child has grown up in Israel, she speaks Hebrew at school and with her friends.

The thing is: her English is fantastic, and her Russian is quite good too. She’s easily at a fourth-grade level in English and probably at a third-grade level in Russian (my estimates). Her Hebrew, on the other hand, is average for an Israeli child, and possibly a bit lower than average because her vocabulary is lacking, as she never speaks Hebrew at home.

So, wanting my child to succeed at her upcoming exam, I asked her teacher whether she could be allowed to take the exam in English. Unfortunately, as it turns out, she can’t – because she’s not an immigrant to Israel, which I feel is a very silly, arbitrary distinction in Israel, where, according to the OECD, more than a quarter of the population is foreign-born. If a child’s strongest language is English, why not permit her to take this exam in English, given that an English version is available?

However, I spoke to our child’s teacher in person this week, and she explained the following to me: whether or not a child passes the first stage of this second-grade exam is actually based upon her teacher’s recommendation. And… our daughter’s teacher is planning on recommending her, knowing that her results may not fully reflect her abilities due to her language abilities. Our daughter’s teacher told me that our child is “brilliant”, which was wonderful to hear from her – to feel that the teacher truly “sees” our child.

Mostly, I’m just writing this blog post to express my relief. I know that my child is very bright, and I know that she deserves this opportunity. The possibility that she might not officially qualify as “advanced” because we decided to speak to her in our respective native languages for her intellectual betterment is incredibly ironic and upsetting. That potential outcome would have been grossly unfair.

So… thank goodness – all seems to be well.

51 thoughts on “The exam for advanced second-graders”

  1. “If a childโ€™s strongest language is English, why not permit her to take this exam in English, given that an English version is available?”

    Good Question David!!!

    I understand your concern but let me say if she’s advanced or not advanced (which she will be), your daughter is ahead of the eight ball and lucky to have you both as parents. I love that she knows more english at the moment which just means you’re doing an outstanding job!!

  2. At least the teachers have input! Too many children with test anxiety fail but they would qualify if they were interviewed or provided a less stressful evaluation!!

  3. All tests have limitations, and unfortunately many, if not most, children fall through the cracks of them. I’m glad your daughter’s teacher is able to make a recommendation. (K)

    1. ๐Ÿ’™ Kerfe ๐Ÿ’™ ~ thank you.

      We’re also going to advocate hard for her, especially when it comes to that second stage, which is out of our teacher’s control…

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