How to tackle the beast of St. Louis Public Schools Gifted & Talented. This is a big topic. There are multiple schools that all have different things going on and the process itself of just enrolling and getting your kid into one of St. Louis Public Schools Gifted & Talented Schools can be super overwhelming. But that is exactly what I’m going to be talking about today.
Hi, my name is Johanna Dueren and I am a real estate agent with Circa Properties here in beautiful St. Louis, Missouri. And today I am talking about the St. Louis Public Schools Gifted & Talented Program. Now there are several schools within the system so I’ll give a little bit of information about all of those, but more importantly give you information on the process on getting your child enrolled in one of these schools, which can be a little bit daunting and very confusing and you will get lots of bad information from other parents.
If you want a more general primer about all of the options available to St. Louis city residents for schools. I did another video which covers the four main types of schools and gives some examples of those schools. So I will put a link to that right up here and you can click on that if you want more information on that as well.
Okay, let’s talk about the schools themselves. The schools, the Gifted & Talented schools are within the St. Louis Public School system. They are one of their Magnet Schools, but then they are also within their own little department called Gifted & Talented. They have their own room resource area within the St. Louis Public School System and they run kind of as their own department. So if you have additional questions about Gifted & Talented that I have not addressed, I will include their phone number down below. You can call them directly. I will say it is sometimes hard to get in touch with somebody there. I have found that I had to leave a message, but when they call you back they are very helpful. Sometimes you have to be diligent about getting that phone call back, but they are very nice and very helpful when they do get back to you.
The schools themselves, let’s start with the elementary schools. There are three elementary schools, Kennard, Mallinckrodt, and Columbia. All three have start times a little bit after 9:00. I believe it’s 9:07 is the exact start time and then end at 4:07. For all three of the schools there’s no catchment area. Like in certain schools you have to live within certain boundaries to be able to go to the school. As long as you are a St. Louis city resident, you can go to the school. So no catchment area. All of the elementary schools service pre K through fifth grade. One additional thing about the catchment area, as of right now, the St. Louis Public Schools still does the voluntary inter-district, what we used to call busing. So if you live in the County and you go to a certain school, if you’re living in a certain school district, then you can still send your kids to one of the Gifted & Talented schools.
Rght now there is only one middle school. It is McKinley and it looks to me that they have recently updated their start and stop time. My understanding was McKinley used to start at 6:50 in the morning, which there was a lot of backlash from parents on that. It is really early, which is one. But there’s so much data out there about kids, especially in that middle school and high school age needing more sleep. So I know that there’s been a lot of pressure on SLPS to do something with the start times. I see now that they have updated their start times to 10 minutes after seven, which isn’t a huge difference, 20 minutes, but you know, 20 minutes extra sleep to a 13 year old kid probably does make some difference. So start time now of 7:10. They get out of school at 2:10 just like the elementary schools, there is no catchment area. And the middle school services, six, seventh, and eighth grade.
And finally the high schools, there are two high schools, McKinley, so you can choose to keep your child in McKinley after middle school or Metro. And Metro has consistently been ranked one of the top schools in the state. So there is a lot of competition to get into Metro, which is something just to keep in mind. The start times for McKinley and Metro are the same, 10 minutes after seven to 10 minutes after two. There is no catchment area and regular high school, it services ninth, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades.
How do you get yourself into one of these schools? That is such a good question. It’s tough because there are a lot of people that want to be in the Gifted & Talented schools, especially at the elementary level. But here is the process:
The first thing that you need to do is get yourself tested and what St. Louis Public Schools Gifted & Talented office will have you do is fill out the application first. So you’ll fill out the application for your child to be admitted to one of the schools. And at that point they will start the process of getting you tested. I will tell you that the testing process, sometimes they will schedule you pretty far out in advance. At one point, one of the tests that my son took I believe was scheduled six months out and they will start testing when your child is, the earliest they’ll test is three years and six months, so something to consider if you have really littles, if you’ve got maybe a two year old or a three year old and you’re thinking about looking at the Gifted & Talented schools, you probably want to start thinking about testing.
So now you filled out the application, you have scheduled the test and it’s six months from now. What can you expect? When you get to the test? When you get to the point of the test, they are going to do two different tests. There’s going to be an IQ portion of the test and there’s going to be an academic portion of the test. Now the academic portion of the test can be pretty simple. If you’re having somebody tested, if you’re having a child tested that’s only three years in six months. I can tell you from experience that the academic portion gets a little bit more complicated when you have a child that’s being tested at the third or fourth grade level. But, there are those two portions of the test and what they are going to require is that your child scores a 90% on both of the tests in order to qualify for Gifted & Talented school.
I will tell you from experience that the testing process can be super stressful. It’s stressful for the kid. It’s stressful for the adults, especially if this is the choice that you’re really looking at. You really want to get them into one of the gifted elementary schools or middle school and high school. Preparing for the test, there’s not really much in the way of preparation. They have four or five different types of tests that they can run at any time. If you are testing more than one time, they will give you different tests each time. They don’t want the kids taking the same tests. So keep that in mind.
There are sometimes a lot of emotion wrapped up for parents and for kids and for that reason, my understanding is they will no longer give you the test results at the testing appointment. I am assuming at some point they had problems with kids or with parents being super emotional about test results. So the way they deliver the test results to you now is through the mail and you usually get them three to five business days after you have done the testing.
Now, you’ve received your test results now in the mail and if you did not score above 90% you can reschedule the test. Again, two things to keep in mind about that. They will only allow you to test once in a calendar year. So you are now waiting a full year to test again, which means that you are going to have to, if you’re in one of the higher grades, if you’re testing for kindergarten, first, second, third, you’re going to have to make other accommodations for a year. And they will allow you to test only four times. So I actually have a child that was tested all four times and durn it all to heck he would get above that 90% on the IQ portion every time but could never make the academic thing fly. But that’s how I know about how all of this works because when you’ve been to the St. Louis Public School building multiple times for testing, you learn a lot about it.
So if you are not one of those people that had to go through four different times of testing and you did get a 90% score on both of the tests, which happened for my younger son, then now you are officially in the system, you have made it through the testing round and you’re onto game show round number two, which is the application and admissions process. So what St. Louis Public Schools Gifted & Talented will do now is look at, you will be giving them your preferences. If you want to be in Mallinckrodt, if you want to be in Kennard, if you want to be in Columbia, they’ll look at those and you can put a second place as well.
But I would recommend probably going with the one that’s closest to your house. And they now are going to put you into the lottery system. So every year they’re only, I think, 22 spots available for every grade level at each school. And there are a couple hundred applications. So they’re going to throw your name into the hat and they will pull the lottery numbers. I believe they pull them in October for the following year. So they’ll put your information in and you are now in the lottery. So on this part of the path you can either get your name pulled and you are in, or you get put on the wait list.
If you get put on the wait list, I will tell you not to be too discouraged. My younger son, who did pass both tests the first time, was wait listed at Mallinckrodt, he was 14th on the waitlist and he got in. So any, there’s all those other people, there’s a ton of people on the wait list and they don’t want to wait. They move, they find other options. And so hopefully those people take themselves off the list and if they don’t, the school contacts and says, “Hey your kid’s next on the list. We’ve got a spot”. And they say, “Oh we don’t need it anymore”. And then they go onto the next person. So even if your 13th, 14th, 15th on the list, don’t get discouraged. It happens. You can get in.
Now there’s one additional track that St. Louis public schools just started last year, I believe it was last year, called the probationary period. So your child scores an over the 90th percentile for the IQ portion, but maybe scored in the 70th percentile for the academic portion. They will put you on a probationary period. So they will put you into the lottery to see if you can get a spot in the school of your choice. And then your child is allowed to enroll and here is the kicker and I don’t really think that this is going to work out for a lot of people because what happens is they will retest your child, I believe in March of that year of the school year that they’re in. So they are now attending Mallinckrodt and they got in on a probationary period and now it’s March and they are going to retest your child on the academic portion.
If your child doesn’t score above that 90th percentile again, then they remove the child from the school. It doesn’t happen in March, but I think they wait until the end of that school year. But oh, so now you’ve got a kid that has gone to school for a whole year that’s made friends with all of these people and now you have to move them to another school. So that feels like that might not work for a lot of people. I mean it could be something that people do want to give it a shot to see if they can make it work, but seems like an awful lot to put a kid through. That again is a personal choice for the parent, but the new probationary thing, we’ll see how long that lasts, but that’s a new thing that the Gifted & Talented office is doing.
As far as the culture of the school, I can really only speak to Mallinckrodt. I imagine that Kennard and Columbia and McKinley and Metro are very similar to this, but what’s taught at the school at the Gifted & Talented school is gifted education, but it’s also everything is taught one level higher, so you’re in first grade, you’re actually learning second grade material. My son is currently in fourth grade. He’s learning fifth grade material. So it’s advanced for the kids. Sometimes it can be a little bit challenging. There is a good amount of homework that comes home every night. He is getting more homework, probably triple the amount of homework. Then my middle schooler is in sixth grade. So just something to keep in mind. There are a lot of parents that have very strong opinions about homework.
I have found personally that at Mallinckrodt, like I said, I can only speak to Mallinckrodt, there much more of a culture of the kid just needs to keep up. Even though it is a public school, there are not a lot of additional resources as far as helping a kid that might be falling behind in one thing or another. The teachers obviously are there for the kids and that the teachers are phenomenal, but there’s not, a resource area or an additional person in the building that can help any of the kids that are struggling. The general attitude is your child is expected to keep up. And so I know several parents that have enlisted the help of tutors at home, which are great. Great way to keep things moving and keep kids caught up or gotten additional help at home as well.
So that’s one aspect of the Gifted & Talented. If you personally aren’t interested and feeling kind of that pressure of like you’ve got to keep up, you got to keep up, then it might not be for you. So for other parents, conversely they really want to push their kids and get their kids into more advanced schooling. So that could be a good option for you as well.
As far as the parent culture, if that’s a word we’ll call it that. The level of involvement from the parent group is very high. You have lots of parents that are super involved in the school, lots of volunteering, lots of PTO involvement. There are lots of activities. There are lots of things for the kids to do. It’s really great to see all of the parents that do get involved. I have seen and heard that at the middle school and high school level, that might drop off a little bit. That could just be because at that point the kids are a little bit older and either don’t want their parents as involved or don’t need their parents as involved as the elementary school. But it is a very involved parent population.
So that is in a nutshell, the overview of the St. Louis Public School Gifted & Talented school system. Hopefully this has been helpful and of course, as always, if you have comments or if you have questions, please either put them down below or get my contact information and get in touch with me. I’m happy to share all of the information that I have.
There will be new information, new school information on other city school options coming out as I do more videos about them. And in general, there are new videos every week, so please subscribe and I do hope this has been helpful. I hope you’ve learned something and have a great day.