Status Update

Round One of my research for middle school is complete. It was high risk, but it ended well. Round Two will refine our methods...

Status update

In this article, I'm going to reveal my current research with a bit more clarity.

We concluded the quest for high school. My approach was based on best practices, extensive Q&A with older parents, an eye toward identifying our goals and lining up the fundamentals under these. Before 6th grade, we set up a plan to prepare for 7th grade, and during seventh executed the plan. Round 2 removes the risk element, now that we know the methods work, so we'll set our objectives a bit higher.

My only misstep was outlining the bare minimum that my child had to accomplish - and then I watched in frustration and horror as he shot for the minimum.

The end goal

Of course, my end goal is graduate school, but with that way off we set our sights on getting into the right high school. There are 5 top nationally ranked high schools in Chicago, believe it or not. Each has a different flavor. There are two high schools that bill themselves as the most competitive and admit a small number of candidates. There is one high school that bills itself as the best but it isn't. And one high school for slackers who will nonetheless go on to great things.

The fifth high school is the biggest, with 1,000 freshman entering each year. It is not as highly ranked simply because it has to lower the cutoff to get to the 1,000 mark. When we looked closer, I noticed two things. First, it has a group of perfect scorers, maybe 300, that is the size of the entire freshman class at the two most competitive schools. Second, with a student body of 4,000 kids, there is an endless array of music, art, theater, clubs to fit any student's emerging agenda. Plus, I calculated using trend data that this school would eventually rise to the top. It's on it's way there already.

I determined that we could get a B, forgo 8 out of 99 points on the big test and still get in. I informed my son. I'll never make this mistake again.

I shouldn't have been shocked to see a B on the fall quarter report card. I'm paraphrasing to keep this article family oriented, but I asked 'Why did you get a B?' My son responded, 'Because I can.' On the big test, all 15 hours of it, we got a stellar math score on Tuesday. On Thursday, my son informed me that he finished the reading section early, as in he knew by the nature of the questions he was already a bit ahead of the cutoff, so he quit early, as in started guessing, as in QUIT. Again, paraphrasing, I said, "You realize you have to get a perfect score on the last exam to get into high school." He responded, "OK". In the end, he was 2.6 points above the cutoff, and I was a nervous wreck. He did get his perfect score on the last exam.

Next steps

I've already got really great plans for high school. I haven't been allowed to see or hear or know anything about school work for 3 years. By court order I had to give my son power of attorney to sign my name to anything from school so I'm in the dark. He takes train, bus or bike to school orientation and similar events. In this context, my 'high school plans' consist of showing him how he can get much better results doing much less work and doing what I can to steer him into the most challenging parts of the program so he'll expend some effort in high school.

I should point out that we're not talking gifted here. We had a dinner with various friends after the high school letters came out; the table was oozing with super intelligence. So I'm not being humble but honest. Edison, Einstein, Childs, Bojaxhiu, Kowalska and many others weren't really gifted. So whatever that thing is that defines a substantial contribution to humanity, that's what I'm aiming for. I'm going to check the box that states [ ] Knows and communicates well with gifted students.

Big plans for 2020 and beyond

Like my previous website, I'm going to lay out my methods and research as we go with Child #2. Right now we're in the quiet before the storm, so you haven't missed anything yet. He's finishing up fifth grade. The fun will begin in a few months. You'll see step-by-step how to get from point A - where we are, to point B - perfect scores for high school entrance.

The goal is to spend as little money and time as possible. We don't just want to get into high school, but to prepare for a strong showing. That's the topic where the money and time will go (again, as frugal as possible on both accounts because I'm cheap and hate to drive places). The academic work doesn't take much time to explain, leaving me plenty of room for articles that deal with the softer topics. In all humility, if there's one thing I know how to do, it's coach a kid to a perfect score on a test. As we go, I'll also delve into additional topics like secrets of an awesome high school experience and how to outdo people who go to Yale without actually having to go to Yale; all I need is a lot of research and experimentation. That's why I have an oldest child.