Karen Quinn – The Testing Mom, Best-selling Author, Co-founder TestingMom.com
Michael McCurdy - Co-founder TestingMom.com
TestingMom.com – The Back-story
After writing the best-selling, The Ivy Chronicles, and her newest book, Testing For Kindergarten, Karen, The Testing Mom, soon found herself in the midst of creating the magnificent IQ Fun Park game. This test prep kit disguised as play became the newest addition to her extensive repertoire of helping parents in their quest to prepare their children for testing and kindergarten.
On a hot Miami night in the summer of 2010, Karen found herself Googling around to find avenues to promote her new game. During her search, she stumbled upon Michael’s popular blog for NYC gifted and talented programs. After reading a few blog posts, Karen reached out to Michael via email to let him know about her IQ Fun Park game. Michael immediately responded to Karen’s email and begged for a sneak preview of the game, which Karen sent to him FedEx Next Day Air so he could play it with his daughter. After receiving the game and staying up late reading Karen’s new book, Testing for Kindergarten, Michael was convinced there was an internet start-up to be created that caters to parents to help their children with testing!
After a few weeks of trading emails and speaking on the phone, Karen flew to New York City from her home in Miami, where she met Michael in person at the Kitchenette restaurant in the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan. Over 2 cups of coffee and a Lumberjack Breakfast, TestingMom.com was born! With a shoestring budget, lots of enthusiasm and fantastic content, Karen and Michael were able to take the TestingMom.com concept and make it a reality in record time.
Karen and Michael are both extremely passionate about their new internet start-up TestingMom.com which gives parents the tools, content and support they need to make sure their child is prepared for all of life’s tests!
Karen first became interested in testing when she noticed that her son, Sam, wasn’t developing as quickly as her daughter had. A doctor diagnosed a hearing problem that could be fixed via surgery and (after giving Sam an IQ test where he scored in the 37th percentile) pronounced that Sam would never function in a regular classroom. Luckily, Karen’s mother was a PhD in Early Childhood Development. She showed Karen how to work with Sam and get him ready for both testing and a regular classroom. Karen worked diligently with Sam for about half-an-hour every day doing activities that would build the abilities he needed for school and testing. A year later, Sam scored in the 94th percentile on an IQ test. He was admitted to a competitive private school in Manhattan and is now an honors student.
Karen went on to co-found a consulting business helping families get their kids into NYC’s best public and private schools. There, she taught parents how to work with their children to get them ready for testing just as she had worked with Sam. A few years later, she left the company and wrote The Ivy Chronicles, a humorous novel about the experience of working in the competitive school admissions world of NYC. Karen wrote a total of four novels (two of which have been optioned as movies) before going back to the book she says she was “meant to write” – Testing For Kindergarten. Karen lives with her husband, Mark, and son, Sam, in Miami Beach, where they moved two years ago (along with their two dogs – Olive, and Bronco). Karen’s daughter, Schuyler, attends acting school at Stella Adler Acting Conservatory in NYC. You can read more about Karen at www.karenquinn.net and www.testingforkindergarten.com.
Karen’s Favorite test and why?
For me, that would have to be the Stanford-Binet®. I still remember my mother taking me to be tested at 4-1/2. I had a December birthday and they were trying to decide if I should start school as the youngest in the class or one of the oldest. So they gave me the Stanford-Binet®. The tester made a remark when we were introduced about how cute I was. I took her remark on as a challenge and did everything I could to help her see how deeply and truly adorable I was. I became so engrossed in displaying my cuteness that I guess I didn’t answer the questions or cooperate very well. That did it. They held me back a grade. As you might imagine, cuteness is not a quality assessed on the Stanford-Binet®. But I never held it against the test itself, and to this day I have an unnatural fondness for the Stanford-Binet® because it reminds me that no matter how bright or prepared a 4- or 5-year-old is for testing, we’re talking about very young children here and you cannot control what they will do or say behind closed doors in the testing room.
Michael, the Testing Dad, first became interested in kindergarten testing when his daughter arrived home one day from pre-K with a note in her backpack about taking the OLSAT® test and Bracken™ test for the New York City Gifted and Talented program. Since Michael and his wife were new to NYC they had never heard of a G&T program for kindergarten. After Michael’s 4-year old daughter took the OLSAT® test and Bracken™ test the letter arrived a few months later with the test results and his daughter was accepted into the NYC G&T program.
Michael soon discovered there was no information available for parents going through the stressful process of school selection for G&T and navigating the NYC school system. Michael woke up one morning, ate a bowl of Cheerios and decided to start writing a blog about his G&T adventures as a parent – www.nycgiftedandtalented.wordpress.com. On his popular blog, Michael writes about his experience with the NYC gifted and talented program, the testing, school selection and other nuances when it comes to navigating through the largest school district in the nation. As soon as Michael started writing his blog he was inundated with requests from other parents asking questions and needing his expert insights.
Since the birth of this blog Michael has since become the parent expert for the NYC gifted and talented program and one of the most popular “daddy bloggers” in New York City with tens of thousands of visits per week. He has received awards for his work on the blog and has spoken on numerous educational expert panels to inform other parents in NYC the “ins and outs” of how to effectively navigate through the system.
Prior to TestingMom.com, Michael worked in the internet industry for over a decade. He most recently served as the VP of consumer marketing at RentTheRunway.com and prior to that he was the director of subscription services at TheLadders.com, both in NYC. Before relocating to New York City in 2007 Michael was the director of CRM product marketing at Match.com in Dallas, Texas. Michael received his MBA from the University of Dallas and his BBA from Dallas Baptist University. Michael now lives in McKinney, Texas. His daughter attends Chelsea Prep Gifted and Talented Program.
Michael’s favorite test and why:
The OLSAT® test because every time I see one of the questions I think to myself “They ask these questions to 4 year olds? These questions are hard!”