NYC Gifted and Talented Program and Testing


Things at PS 33 aren’t hunky-dory any longer
August 16, 2017, 2:28 pm
Filed under: NYC Gifted and Talented Program | Tags: ,

The school that once coined the term “NEST of the West” has fallen from grace with parents

Well, I’ve heard from 3 different parents over the past couple of months of their concerns on the direction at PS 33. The new principal, Cindy Wang, has now been there for 2 full years and things seem to be slowly crumbling piece by piece, at least that’s what I’m being told by these parents. These are the same parents who were so excited a few years ago when their talented tot started PS 33 kindergarten under the leadership of Principal Lindy. It seems now the tight ship that Mrs. Lindy ran is now entirely off course. I was told countless parents have pulled their child of these G&T program at PS 33 because they don’t feel it’s as academically rigorous as it once was. The gifted and talented teachers are being told to teach the same exact curriculum at the same pace as the gen ed program. Parents are left scratching their heads as to why they should schlep their kids across town to attend PS 33 when they could get an equal experience at their local gen ed school. Is the program at PS 33 really worth it? Some parents are now re-thinking their decision.

One mom that I saw outside of  Barnes and Nobel in Tribeca shared with me:

“The only reason I keep my daughter at PS 33 is because of the chess program. She loves it! If it wasn’t for that I’d pull her out immediately and go into our local school across the street.”

Another mom I spoke to at Shake Shack in Battery Park City (while slurping up a coffee milkshake) voiced:

“It’s really gone down hill since your daughter left and especially since Mrs. Lindy left two years ago. Not the same school it once was, that’s for sure!”

All the complaints I’m hearing are sad and I hope they aren’t true! But the parents I spoke to aren’t ones to complain unless there’s an issue and by no means would make up stories like this. It looks like with regime change comes with dumbing down the curriculum for all the gifted and talented students at PS 33. I suppose the bigger question is why have the G&T program at this school if there’s basically nothing different from the gen ed program? Seems like the principal is really out of touch with what the NYC Gifted and Talented Program is all about and why parents decided on PS 33 for their child.

Oh how Chelsea Prep parents wish the days of tough-as-nails Principal Lindy would return to the helm of PS 33 Chelsea Prep! Don’t know what you have until it’s gone.



Signs of a gifted child
August 13, 2017, 11:06 am
Filed under: NYC Gifted and Talented Program, OLSAT Test | Tags: ,

Do you think your child might be gifted? If so, keep reading!

We all think our child is the brightest kid on the planet (and we’re all convinced that we’re right!). Especially if you’re a parent in New York City! And we tend to have thousands of anecdotes to prove our child’s academic fortitude. You’ve probably known since the day he or she was born that your child was smart. But how can you know whether your child is “gifted” in the sense that NYC gifted and talented schools and teachers use the word?

Educational psychologists perform questionnaires and interviews of children and parents in an effort to determine whether a child is gifted. During this process, psychologists look for a number of attributes or markers that tend to point to an advanced child. In addition to taking tests like the Stanford-Binet and OLSAT they ask parents fill out a survey to self-assess their child’s giftedness.

Over 80% of parents who think their child is gifted are correct!

Here are some of the attributes that gifted children tend to have. (Don’t worry, gifted children don’t necessarily possess all of these traits, although they tend to have many of them.)

  •  Creative talent:

    If your child displays above-average aptitude for art or music, it could be a sign that he’s gifted.

  • Attention to detail:

    If your child is able to remember and understand the intricacies of academic concepts – or even things she encounters in her everyday life – it points to the possibility that she’s gifted.

  • Good with complexity:

    Gifted children often show a keen understanding of intricate concepts and are able to work through multi-step problems.

  • High verbal ability:

    Gifted children tend to have an advanced vocabulary and the ability to use it at a high level.

  • Emotional sensitivity:

    If your child is able to understand and perceive others’ emotions or feelings, it could be a sign that he’s gifted.

  • Good sense of humor:  

    Gifted children tend to be wittier than their general education counterparts.

  • Works independently:

    Many gifted children don’t mind working independently of others to solve problems; many even teach themselves to read before their counterparts learn it in school!

  • Reaches milestones earlier than other children:

    Among other things, gifted children tend to walk, talk, and read earlier than their general education counterparts.

  • Good memory:

    If your child seems like an encyclopedia, constantly retaining and reciting information that she’s learned, it could suggest that she’s gifted.

  • Likes collections:

    Many gifted children like to collect certain things that have something in common (baseball cards, model cars, etc.).

  • Has older friends:

    Sometimes, gifted children prefer the company of older children or even adults, as they find them easier to talk with and relate to.

  • Has good attention span:

    A long attention span and determination to finish the job is a marker of a gifted child.

Does this sound like your child?

Whether the answer is yes or no, don’t worry. The best way to increase your child’s academic performance and creative processes is to engage his brain on a regular basis with doing practice questions from the OLSAT ande NNAT-2 tests. Don’t rely on school and homework to keep his brain limber and his creative juices flowing; work with him after school and on weekends to expand his mind beyond the “four R’s” of traditional school. Brain teasers, online interactive test prep, and even conversations about complex topics or phenomena (for example, pointing out all the geometric shapes that occur in everyday life) can be tremendously helpful in advancing your child’s mental acuity.

 



Help your child with OLSAT practice questions

Let your child work through tough problems on their own

While it can be difficult to see our children struggle with practice questions for the OLSAT test for the NYC gifted and talented program, it’s important to let them work through it on their own. Many times, when our child doesn’t know what the answer, we just go ahead and tell him the answer. While our intentions are good – we’re trying to relieve our child’s frustration (and, often, save ourselves some time) – we are actually doing our child a great disservice. By simply giving him or her the answer, we’ve taken away an opportunity for him to use his or her problem-solving skills to figure it out on his own.

Make sure your child practices problem solving skills so he or she will do well on the OLSAT test. It’s a tough test, especially for a 4-year-old!

Luckily, it’s easy to reverse the pattern we just described.

Here’s a problem-solving model you can use whenever your child gets stuck on an OLSAT practice test:

  1. Instead of directing your child to do something, sit her down and ask her to come up with different solutions. This encourages her to be creative and flexible in her thinking.
  2. Talk over all the possibilities, and choose two the best answers hat seem fair to all parties.
  3. Put each idea on its own piece of paper and evaluate the pros and cons of each.
  4. After looking at all the possible answers for the verbal or non-verbal question, ask each child his/her opinion on which is best – and why. If your children don’t agree – it’s bound to happen! – don’t panic. Instead, ask questions to get them thinking. This will help them make a decision that everyone can be satisfied with.

Ask your child this tough OLSAT test question: Annie looked up at the sky and could not believe what she saw! There were exactly as many hot air balloons flying as she had fingers on her hand. Point to the box that shows what she saw.

It’s also helpful to tell your child about instances where you’ve had to solve a perplexing problem, and show her that it’s okay to make a mistake. For example, you might tell your child, “Oh dear, I left the popcorn in the microwave too long, and now it’s all burned. That’s OK – I’ll make another bag, and this time I’ll keep a closer eye on it!” This shows her both that everyone makes mistakes, and that using creative thinking can help you rectify those mistakes.

Using this model when your child confronts a novel problem or situation will help build his problem-solving skills for the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests – so that by the time he’s finished with school, he’s well-versed in assessing complex problems and coming up with the best solution. This independence will fuel your child’s success, and ensure that he will never be at a total loss when confronted with a new challenge!



Looking beyond the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests

Getting into a NYC gifted and talented program

It’s hard enough to juggle the everyday responsibilities that you have as a parent. But NYC parents are being faced with an added item on their to-do list: preparing for the Gifted and Talented test that could get their child into an advanced academic program available to NYC residents.

Many parents – probably too many – put this responsibility on the back-burner, distracted and consumed by what they perceive as more pressing concerns. There are a number of reasons for this. Some parents don’t understand the value of a gifted and talented program. This is especially true for parents who may have a good gen ed program next door, who believe that their children will receive an “adequate” education: what’s the point of stressing myself out for a program that might not make much of a difference, these parents wonder. I can tell you that this is a terrible mistake: even in the best public schools, the test scores and academic performance of kids in gifted and talented programs are dramatically better than those enrolled in the general program. Not to mention the opportunities that open up to children in gifted programs that simply aren’t available to other children.

Here’s a OLSAT Level A question they ask pre-K students: Point to the picture that shows this: David and Mark got very tired after they played ball.

Other parents are afraid that their child won’t make the cut, and are hesitant to dive in without a guarantee of success. This is an understandable impulse, and one that people make in all areas of life, including their career, personal goals, and even romantic relationships. But the old adage that “you can’t win if you don’t play” applies particularly well to gifted and talented programs, where only kids who take the test are even in the running to get a seat.

Finally, there are the parents who have every intention of preparing for the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests, but put it off until it’s too late. This happens even to the most dedicated parents, who often get caught up in their many other responsibilities and then panic as the test day nears. I have heard from countless parents in this boat – once a mother emailed me in a frenzy literally hours before the test, asking me what she could do to prepare her son. Unfortunately, at that point I told her the only thing she could do is to give him a solid breakfast and then do plenty of praying.

I know all of this sounds pretty bleak, but here’s the good news: it isn’t too late for your little one. Now’s the time to start gearing up for the NYC Gifted and Talented test in January.

Here’s the steps you need to take to ensure that your child is ready for test day – before it’s too late:

  • Sign up for a Testing Mom Fast Track membership today. You’ll get access to thousands of OLSAT and NNAT-2 practice questions instantly!  These practice questions will help your child get familiar not only with the material they’ll encounter on the exam, but with the process of sitting down for an extended period of time and working through challenging problems without getting frustrated.
  • Come up with some light, fun ways to get your child ready – so that they don’t get burned out or anxious using traditional practice questions all the time. Fortunately, your Testing Mom membership also gives you access to interactive online games that prepare your child for the test while they think they’re just having fun!
  • Don’t lose sight of your child’s academic performance. It’s important to prep for the test, but it’s equally important to make sure your child stays a step ahead in school.
  • Parents have given Testing Mom rave reviews!


Importance of preparing for the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests

Importance of entrance exams for the NYC Gifted and Talented program

I don’t have to tell you how important the exam for entrance in the NYC Gifted and Talented program is and how more important it is to prepare for the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests. These exams are no joke!  At this very moment, parents around New York City are frantically preparing their child for these tests, since every extra point on the OLSAT test score can make a difference between getting a citywide seat vs. a district wide The process of researching, registering for, preparing for, and then finally taking the Gifted and Talented test is one of the most stressful experiences a parent will ever have.  Especially when the child is a mere 4 years old! But, of course, the opportunities that come along with admission into a highly-competitive Gifted program make all the sleepless nights and gnashing of teeth well worth it.

Here’s another OLSAT practice test question: Do you see the children in the first box? Each child needs 2 pencils for school. Point to the box that shows how many pencils the children need altogether.

For many NYC moms and dads, the process of preparing for the G&T test is so intense, and so all-consuming, that when the exam is finally over, they’re left with a strange sense of emptiness. I’ve had more than one parent ask me, half-joking but still sounding concerned, “How will I spend all my time now?” Mind you, these were parents of young children, many of whom had full-time jobs or other commitments outside of their home.

Well, I know firsthand that as unpleasant as the process of preparing for the test can seem, it’s a bit of a letdown once the process is finally over. I went through it with my own daughter several years ago and that was the catalyst to start this blog to help parents (like you!) ease the stress of going through this treacherous process.

That’s why I want to give you some suggestions for what to do after the OLSAT test is over. If you’re in the thick of preparing for the exam now, it’s important to maintain your focus and put all your energy into ensuring that your child receives a top score. (I trust that you’re already doing that and have been for some time!). But rest assured that, once the test is over, plenty of work remains to be done. Here are just a few things you’d be wise to focus on when your child walks out of the testing room:

  • Improve your child’s math skills

    • Even for children who are naturally good at math, it’s crucial that you work with materials outside your child’s normal homework assignments to give them an edge over their classmates.
  • Encourage your child to read more

    • What parent doesn’t melt at the sight of their son or daughter sitting quietly with a book (or, these days, a Kindle)? But many kids don’t like to read – or have learning delays that make the process frustrating and demoralizing. Make sure you use programs help your child develop the basic reading skills they need, and make reading so fun your child will never want to stop!
  • Explore the world

  • Get ready for the Common Core State Standards:

    • Yes, the OLSAT test may be over but that means the NY State Test (aka the Common Core tests) are around the corner starting in third grade. Now is not the time to rest upon your laurels.
  • Teach your child about the value of a dollar

    • Given how few schools teach children how to budget and handle money, is it any wonder that so many people are so bad at money management? Get your child started down the right path early counting money. TD Bank used to have a fun change machine called Penny Arcade but unfortunately, they removed these machines last year. Check with your local bank to see what fun activities they have to engage your child with financial literacy.

Make sure your child will maintain an edge once the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests is over – and that once they make it into that coveted NYC gifted and talented program, they start out ahead of their peers.



Guidance for parents preparing kids for the OLSAT test

How preparing for the OLSAT scored this child a seat at citywide G&T program!

A story from one NYC mom

I just have to get this off of my chest:  if my sister-in-law shares one more story about every “lady” (and I use that term loosely) and their weekly escapades on “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” I might go bonkers.  Doesn’t she have more important things do to with her valuable time than to watch these chicks cat fight and pull out each other’s weaves?  Seriously, I’ve seen enough Jerry Springer to last me a lifetime (and I’ve made my penance for that)…please, forgive me, for I have sinned!

I mean, can’t we talk about something more intellectually stimulating than who wore the faux leopard-print dress? I simply could care less. On the other hand, if you want to tell me about the new philanthropic idea you’ve come up with to help the children in India, I’m all ears – start talking! That’s why today I’m here to talk about things that make a difference (and I promise you, there will be no talk about Kenya’s new eyelash extensions – spare me the agony!)

My goal of this blog has always been to offer guidance to New York City parents who find themselves alone and confused on the heretofore unfamiliar road known as OLSAT and NNAT-2 test prep – and to prepare and expose children to the concepts necessary for their entry into the NYC gifted and talented program. All of the other extras that come along with your membership are just my gift to children everywhere to make sure they have the knowledge and power that they all rightfully deserve.

Try this OLSAT practice question: Point to the picture that shows this: Cindy has dived off the board but she has not yet hit the water.

But, don’t take it from me, here’s what this Park Slope – Brooklyn mom recently emailed me:

“We began preparing our daughter for the OLSAT test 8 months ago. The task to prepare for the test seemed overwhelming and confusing. We were even more discouraged when the schools we wanted to apply to told us there is no preparation possible for the test. Then we came across TestingMom.com and it offered us a clear and focused path to building the underlying skills our child needed for the test. The resources and various material on TestingMom.com, were instrumental in our daughter scoring in the 99th percentile and getting a citywide seat at BSI – Brooklyn School of Inquiry.”

When I read such inspiring emails from dedicated parents I get thrilled to know there are so many engaged parents in NYC who want the best education for their kids!

Think about it: would you put your four-year-old on a 10-speed bicycle without first teaching them how to pedal a small bike with training wheels? Would you throw your five-year-old into the pool and tell them to swim without first teaching them the basics of water safety? I certainly hope not!  So why on earth would any halfway-conscientious parent send their child into a life-changing test like the OLSAT and NNAT-2 with no exposure to the topics involved or the questions asked – it’s like putting your child on a mountain bike without a helmet, or in the pool without a lifeguard: they’re going to get banged up during the process, and quite possibly mentally scarred as well. No parent should want their young child to embark on such a brutal – and ultimately doomed – endeavor.

Classification is a big component of the OLSAT test.

Here’s a good video on how to teach your child about classificationl



Admissions into the gifted and talented program

The only requirement is acing the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests

It’s no secret that the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests used to screen kids for admission to NYC G&T program are hard. As more and more parents decide that they want their child to receive the best education possible, more are applying their children to these advanced programs – and so the tests are getting increasingly difficult and competitive. This past January over 2,000 more pre-K students took the G&T test for kindergarten admissions with very few additional seats added. This meant over 35% of the kids who qualified for a G&T seat didn’t get a spot because there weren’t enough seats available!

Ask your little one this sample OLSAT test question: Look at the space ship in the first box. Do you see the round windows on the red part of the space ship? If the space ship carried the same number of space babies to earth as thenumber of round windows you can count, point to the box that shows how many space babies the space ship carried to earth.

As a result, it’s no longer enough just to throw your child into the testing room and hope that they pass. Even the smartest kids – if they don’t prepare – are now being outgunned by kids who might not be as inherently bright, but whose parents spend months or even years planning, meticulously, for the testing and admissions process.

A mom from Queens tells her G&T story

Well, recently I spoke to a mother (from Queens) of a very bright boy who, for a long time, thought she knew better than those of us who have been through the testing process before. I had spoken to this mom, who we’ll call Debbie, before, and explained to her how crucial it is to at least familiarize her son Jordan with the material he would face on the test. Plus, I reminded her that most children her son’s age haven’t ever been in a testing situation before, so they need to be mentally prepared for the process of sitting for half an hour or more, locked in a room with a usually stone-faced test proctor who isn’t allowed to give any feedback – positive or negative.

Debbie listened politely, but I could tell she wasn’t hearing what I was saying: she had already made up her mind, and wouldn’t be doing any prep work with her son. You know the type – right?

“Jordan is so smart,” Debbie told me more than once. “He always gets A’s on his tests in school, so why should this test be any different?”

“Besides,” Debbie told me, “I’ve always felt that these tests are meant to measure kids’ intelligence, so preparing with them is essentially ‘cheating’: either the kid is smart or he isn’t.”

Debbie kept in touch with me as OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests day drew closer, letting me know how well Jordan was doing in school and how confident she was that he would ace the test. I wished her luck and held out hope that Jordan would pass the test and make it into their local gifted program – but I knew that the odds were against him, given Debbie’s steadfast refusal to do anything to prepare him for the exam.

Sure enough, Jordan went into the test unprepared. When the OLSAT test scores came in, Jordan had done well – surprisingly well, in fact: he’d earned a score in the 95th percentile, very impressive for a child who hadn’t done any kind of preparatory work. But it wasn’t quite good enough to get Jordan into the program his mother was sure he was destined for: just to be considered for a seat at a citywide program like NEST+m or Anderson, Jordan needed to score in the 99th percentile.

Debbie was devastated. She was sure that Jordan would skate into the program, and she was convinced that “unworthy” kids had taken his spot. Disappointment turned to bitterness, and Debbie soured on the idea of ever applying Jordan to another gifted program. Her exact words: “I’m done. I’ll never let my child take another one of these OLSAT tests again.”

I knew this was a mistake as well. I told Debbie over and over: Jordan had a good shot of passing the gifted test the following year – if she took my advice and prepared him for it this time. For months, Debbie refused to budge: Jordan would never take that test again.

I refused to take no for an answer, though, since I was as convinced as Debbie that Jordan had too much potential to be stuck in a general education program. I kept on Debbie: try again next year. If you do take concrete steps to get Jordan ready, he’ll do fine.

Thankfully, after months of despair and hand-wringing, Debbie came to her senses and decided to apply Jordan to the gifted program again. Within a week, she signed up for a Testing Mom for the OLSAT practice questions  and began working with Jordan. They started out slow, getting Jordan used to the format of the questions and the process of sitting still and focusing on the material. As time went on, Debbie extended the practice time and increased the difficulty of the questions they worked with. By the time test day rolled around again, Jordan was accustomed to sitting and focusing for nearly an hour and answering questions designed for kids at least two grade levels above his own.

Before long, scores came out again and this time the news was unequivocally good: Jordan scored in the 99th percentile, qualifying him for the citywide gifted program and guess what? He made it into NEST+M one of the most sought after G&T programs in NYC!