NYC Gifted and Talented Program and Testing


Parents anxiously await NYC gifted and talented test score results

It’s that time of year again when New York City parents are wringing their hands

It’s only a matter of weeks before the NYC G&T test results are released to parents who will find out if their child made the cut for qualifying for admissions into the gifted and talented program.  The DOE has implemented this program for K to 2nd graders to take the test for admissions into the district wide programs or the highly sought after citywide programs.  Even at a 98th percentile, those parents may still be disappointed since the very popular citywide programs like NEST, Anderson and Brooklyn School of Inquiry (BSI) have only admitted 99th percentile students over the past several years (unless there is a sibling already attending the school then the student only needs a 97th percentile).  Don’t get me wrong, a 98th percentile is an amazing score for the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests but it doesn’t cut the mustard in the most cutthroat city in the world. Some parents will go to any length and spend an enormous amount of money to get their child prepped and prepared for the test to help their child make a 99th percentile. In some cases even spending tens of thousands of dollars won’t ensure your child gets a 99 on the test.

nyc gifted and talented

When you’re dealing with 4-year-olds it’s pretty much out of the parent’s hands what happens in the testing room where it’s one-on-one with a child and the testing proctor. Sorry moms and dads, you’ll have to let your darling daughter or son go into the testing room alone and hope that it’s not a disgruntled DOE employee working on weekends administering the test.  There has been constant talk about changing the entry criteria for the G&T program and some even propose doing away with it all together. It’s now part of the school lexicon in NYC and thousands of kids grades K to 5th are already in the program. What would happen if it’s dismantled? I can see the protests now at City Hall at the Dept. of Ed headquarters.  Unfortunately, the new Chancellor doesn’t seem to have a full grasp on the this program and its importance to parents in every community.  In many cases it’s a way for parents to escape a poor performing local school and give their child a leg up to attend a gifted program in their district or if they are lucky enough to get a spot a citywide school.



Upcoming ELA and math test for New York City students
February 13, 2019, 3:31 pm
Filed under: tutoring | Tags: , ,

Time to start preparing for NY ELA and math tests!

It’s that time of year again for kids in grades 3 to 8 to start preparing for the upcoming ELA and math tests. The ELA is given in March of 2019 while the math portion is saved until April. The NYC kids have been inching their scores upward over the past few years and now companies like Testing Mom are offering in-person tutoring at their center in Manhattan at 6th Ave. and 57th Street (email: tutoring@testingmom.com).

They are offering mock tests and also one-on-one tutoring for these important tests. What I like is they also offer writing workshops and mindfulness workshops too. A good way to mix things up when it comes to preparing your son or daughter for the state test.

ELA / Math Writing Workshops – Groups of 5 students will work with a DOE Citywide G&T Teacher who has experience teaching to the state tests. Students will learn what the tutors who score the test are looking for when they grade the writing portions of the exam. The 3 writing workshops we offer are: ELA Essay Writing, ELA Short Response, and Math Writing.

 

Mindfulness Workshops – Groups of 8 students will work a former DOE Citywide G&T Teacher who is also a certified yoga instructor. She will give students calming, focus and stamina techniques for test taking. Specifically, they will go over breathing techniques for calming/focus, meditation, journaling, moving through moments of “stuckness”, motivation for reluctant test takers, focusing techniques, brain breaks, movement to revitalize tired hands and bodies, group discussion and art therapy.

 

Here are the scores for NYC students from the testing done in the spring of 2018.

You want your child to be at level 3 at the minimum and hopefully get a level 4 on their state scores. Scores range from 1.00 to 4.50 and many of the most competitive middle schools use the state test scores as admission criteria to their program.

  • Level 1 – Students performing at this level are well below proficient in standards for their grade
  • Level 2  – Students performing at this level are partially proficient in standards for their grade.
  • Level 3 – Students performing at this level are proficient in standards for their grade.
  • Level 4 – Students performing at this level excel in standards for their grade

New York ELA test scores for 2018 for New York City students

New York State math test results for NYC students from spring 2018

 



DOE incompetence according to some

New York Post Slams de Blasio and DOE

Well, the NY Post is at it again with slamming the DOE and de Blasio’s grand plan of making the public schools the utopia of education. Unfortunately, it seems to be getting worse instead of better, especially in the lower income communities around the city.

Let’s face it, sure race plays a roll in disparity of education and whether or not the family has a good income. Unfortunately, this usually falls into distinct racial lines with lower performing schools around the city. The one way the DOE in the past has made efforts to give the best education to all NYC kids is the implementation of the NYC Gifted and Talented program. This newest version of the program was launched under the Bloomberg regime in the early 2000’s and has made a few changes since it’s implementation, although basically the same concept. You sign-up your child ages 4 to 8 to take the NYC G&T test and see what happens. Admissions is solely based on the test results of the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests. They used to give the BSRA (Bracken School Readiness Assessment) along with the OLSAT but due to so many kids acing the Bracken test they changed it to the NNAT-2 test a few years ago.

This article goes on to slam how the DOE makes it practically impossible to know if you actually signed up for your kid to take the G&T test after you register online. The woman who wrote the article I assume is internet savvy (she’s a reporter for the NY Post after all) and she was perplexed by the inefficiencies of the registering tool to get her kid signed-up. News flash: it’s the DOE!  She even contacted a so-called kindergarten admissions expert to make sure she did it correctly. Imagine all the of the other parents who aren’t upper-middle-class and have private consultants at their disposal. The unfortunate parents who don’t have privilege might have given up and didn’t bother to come back web site. Or they thought the registration process worked and actually it didn’t. Who knows! No matter what the reason or cause the process to sign your child up for the test should be clear, concise and easy to understand. Most the parents are new the entire NYC Dept of Ed system and this is their first experience and it sounds like it’s a lousy one (at best).

Solution: do it the old fashion way: 1. mail in the form or 2. call in to an operator and give your information. I think at that point there’s less mystery involved in the process to get your child registered for the G&T test in New York City and actually receive some sort of notification or confirmation number from the Dept. of Ed.

We are hoping all communities in the city have participation rates at the highest level possible. Many parents in the some of these communities have no idea this program even exists. What if they did know? I have no doubt they’d jump at the chance to give their child the best education possible (like all parents regardless of socio-economic status).

Is the admissions process perfect from the NYC G&T program? No. But at least it’s an opportunity for all kids in the city to shine. Let’s give them all the opportunity to shine no matter what their zip code, borough or neighborhood. Let’s have the highest expectations for ALL students and expect them to soar to heights their parents could only dream of before the launch of this program.

I’ve heard rumors and mumbling about the DOE planning to make drastic changes to this program in the coming years. Some things should be left untouched and this is one of those programs. As they say, the road to hell is paved with the best intentions.



If you’re child’s in the NYC G&T program you’re privileged (according to some)
October 29, 2018, 10:09 am
Filed under: NYC Gifted and Talented Program

According to a recent interview of the NYC Chancellor of schools here’s his attitude toward the NYC G&T program. I find it interesting since many of the kids who enter the G&T program are from lower income areas in the Asian communities in NYC. These people I’m sure don’t feel any type of “privilege” as stated below.

“Are they really measuring giftedness and talentedness, or are they really measuring, when you’re measuring kids at 4 years old, the privilege of the parent?”

And if that’s not bad enough, here’s what he said about the specialized high schools in NYC like Bronx Science and Stuyvesant. Even though 31% of students qualify for free lunch at Stuyvesant and 32 % at Bronx Science. I doubt the 1/3 of the students at these schools who qualify for free lunch don’t feel like they are at the epicenter of privilege. My guess is, quite the contrary.

They are “the epicenter of privilege” for people like Supreme Court justices — “the ones who don’t like beer.”



More and more gifted programs join diversity effort
September 21, 2018, 5:24 pm
Filed under: NYC Gifted and Talented Program | Tags: ,

New York City Gifted and Talented Programs embrace diversity efforts

Over the past two years gifted programs in NYC have adopted changes into their admissions processes to promote a more diverse student population. Some schools, like P.S. 11 in Chelsea, now open 30% of its gifted and talented seats for the coveted program for lower-income, homeless, or reduced lunch students for their program. TAG citywide program reserves 40% of its seats for lower-income students. This makes citywide programs even more competitive now that so many seats are going to be reserved for these students thus cutting out a large percentage of students who would otherwise get a seat and now will not.

The reason behind the diversity push is due to the current demographic makeup of the gifted and talented programs. Hispanics and black students only make up 27% of students in the gifted and talented programs while the entire student popultion comprises over 70% of students across all five boroughs.

 

The gifted programs that start in kindergarten are considered the gateway for children get into a top middle school and eventually into a specialized high school like Stuyvesant or Bronx Science. That’s one of the reasons pay hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars for their child to get prepared for these tests.

One of the major concerns is that many children in the lower income areas of the city don’t participate in the gifted and talented testing while students in the more affluent areas do participate at an exponentially higher rate. It’s not that parents in the lower income don’t want their kids in these programs, most of these parents have no idea these programs even exist. The NYC dept. of ed. has tried outreach programs although there seems to be little impact on increasing the participation rate for these kids to take the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests. This could be attributed to many of these parents may not speak and/or read English which is a hindrance in learning about the program the DOE has to offere. Hopefully this school year we’ll see higher participation rate of students taking the G&T test in the lower-income areas of the city.



New NYC Dept of Ed Chancellor is anti gifted testing

Well, we knew this one was coming. The new Chancellor for NYC schools says that only the privileged are in the gifted and talented program across the city. Let’s tell that to the first generation American-Chinese parent who is living on a measly salary she gets while working at the fish market in China town. No, it’s not about privileged, it’s about priorities for parenting! Time and time again studies have shown that regardless of race or socio-economic status if the parent is involved in their child’s education that child will be successful in school.  The top high schools in the city, Stuyvesant and Bronx Science, both have 30% of their student populations qualify for free lunch (translation: they are poor). The sad fact is that the vast majority of those students are Asian descent. This doesn’t fit the narrative for the new Chancellor so therefore he conveniently leaves that fact out of anything he says that doesn’t support his political agenda. The easiest solution to this issue is to have all universal pre-K students take the G&T test unless the parent opts-out of the test. This way parents who don’t know about the program don’t have to worry about not being included in the testing. It’s about educating the parents about the program and sometimes the best thing is to just do the testing.  There should also be the ranking within each district for entry into the program. For example, if the highest score in a district is 94 percentile than use that score as the ceiling for the qualification point for the program and work your way down from there. This type of attribution could entice parents to move to certain districts that in the past they would have never considered.

And what if the G&T test went away? What about the tens of thousands of kids already in the program? How is the DOE going to cope with that madness? And also the sibling preference when parents would then send their child to their local school, which is most likely already overcrowded. There are too many foreseen and unforeseen consequences of yanking this program and the Chancellor should really think through these scenarios before mouthing off saying that it has to do with privilege when in actuality it has to do with parent involvement.

The Chancellor also never speaks a word about the contract the DOE has with Pearson, the publisher of the NYC G&T test for the OLSAT and NNAT-2.  That’s a multi-year and multi-million dollar contract the test-prep empire has with the DOE and not one I’d suspect they’d want to give up so easily.



Tips for solving OLSAT test questions
July 5, 2018, 3:30 pm
Filed under: tests | Tags:

Here are a few tips on helping your child solve those very tricky OLSAT test questions

For analogy questions on the OLSAT:

  • Think of a rule that describes the relationship between the 2 items on top.
  • Apply the rule to the figure or picture on the bottom.
  • Test the rule with each answer choice – if you choose it, will the items on top be related to each other in the same way as the items on the bottom?
  • If more than one choice fits the rule, then look for a more specific rule that describes the relationship between the items on top.

For solving classification questions on the OLSAT:

  • These are similar to analogy questions, except that you should think of the reason why the items on top belong together in one group. What’s the same about all of them that they belong together as a unit?
  • Test the reasoning with each answer choice – if you choose it, will all 4 items belong together in a group for the reason you identified?
  • If more than one item or if no item fits with the items on top for the reason you identified, look at the items on top again and re-think why they belong together in a group.

When practicing for the OLSAT test:

  • Environment
    • Make sure your child is working in a quiet, well-lit area where he or she will not be disturbed.
    • Give your child one set of questions at a time. First go through the warm-up questions in the set.
    • When doing the actual practice test, read the instructions and questions exactly as they are written. Do not paraphrase.
    • Give your child breaks as needed – ideally, take a break between each practice sub-test.
    • Once the practice test starts, don’t give your child feedback or help during the practice test unless he or she is confused about what to do. Go over answers after your child completes the practice test.