I was casually reading the local paper this past Sunday and came across a notice from the Prince George’s County Public Schools Talented and Gifted (TAG) Office — non-public testing on February 5 for TAG program eligibility. This means that private school students like Mae can take a test to see if they meet the requirements to attend one of the county’s centers for talented and gifted students.
I was grateful to see the notice and immediately sent an email to the two email addresses provided to request a copy of the test application. I was surprised and impressed when I received a reply from the TAG Supervisor within a few hours — on a Sunday!. She recommended that I pick up the application in person because I would only have five business days to receive and return it. Good and much-appreciated advice.
Even with such responsiveness, I could not completely bury my annoyance with the school district in general. I thought back to a meeting I attended at our zoned elementary school with the school principal, psychologist, first grade teacher, special education teacher, resource teacher, and psychologist intern on November 10, 2010. I’d initiated the Child Find process to determine if Mae might be eligible to participate in any social skills training that might be provided by the county. The school psychologist looked at Mae’s report card and test scores, and said, “It looks like she may be gifted. You should look into resources for gifted children.” The principal added that there is a good program for gifted children in Baltimore (an hour away) that begins at second grade. He said that if Mae were enrolled in his school, she would be tested for giftedness in the spring along with all first graders. The psychologist seconded his suggestion — the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth is a reputable program and I should look into it. The psychologist happily shared that her Ph.D work involved gifted children in preschool, and she had spent some number of years working with gifted children.
Not one person in the room bothered to tell me that the county offers non-public testing in addition to the standard testing for all first-graders enrolled in public schools. Could they all have been ignorant that this opportunity existed and that their employer was making available the TAG non-public applications that month? I doubt it. It’s jacked up that they referred me to an out-of-county program (which, by the way, costs $34,000 a year), when Mae is at least eligible to be tested for entry into a program around the corner that our tax dollars help fund. I’ll accept responsibility for not doing enough homework. I had made an attempt months earlier to find out more about TAG, and I saw no information about non-public testing on the county’s website and I could not reach a live person nor even a voicemail box at the number provided on the website. I gave up at that point. I should have persisted, and I should have known to ask at the Child Find meeting if there would be an opportunity for private school students to be tested.
OK, moving on. I emailed Hubby and asked him to pick up a copy of the application after work on Monday. He asked a good question – why isn’t the application available online? Wanting to give the program office the benefit of the doubt, I offered up a couple reasons that he found unacceptable. Nonetheless, he made the first attempt to pick up an application on Monday. All gone. I towed the kids along at a second attempt on Tuesday. I was luckier and picked up a few double-sided pages that could have easily been PDF’d and posted on the school district’s website. Ok, keep moving . . . .
I scanned the application to see if we could complete the process within the week. It seems simple enough — complete the parent’s form, have her teacher complete the school’s portion, and add copies of her most recent report card and standardized test scores. Seems doable. We’re going to give it a shot, despite my overall distrust of the county school system. Hopefully, the remaining steps will go more smoothly.