NYC Gifted and Talented Program and Testing

Top tips for NYC gifted and talented schools

It’s that time of year again for children to make the annual pilgrimage to the take the OLSAT and NNAT2 tests for vie for a coveted spot in the NYC gifted and talented program for next school year. Here are a couple of tips for NYC parents to remember after their talented tot takes the test in January.

Top tips for NYC gifted and talented schools:

  • Make sure you visit every G&T school your child is eligible to attend after scores are released in April 2016. Some schools have very good reputations but keep in mind there are quite a few hidden gems in the city. Make sure you discover for yourself if a school would be a good fit for your child or not after visiting the school in person. Don’t rely on second hand information to base your final decision on what’s the best fit for YOUR child.
  • There is a misconception that citywide G&T programs like NEST and Anderson are better than their district wide counterparts. This isn’t necessarily true since all G&T programs and curriculum vary dramatically so make sure you do your homework to find out the ins-and-outs of the schools your child is eligible for either district wide or citywide.  The major plus about citywide programs is those schools go through 8th grade or all the way through 12th grade, depending on the school. That means no middle school or high school admissions process (believe me, that’s a big plus!). Once your child is in a program they are there to stay unless you decide to remove your child for whatever reason like moving or you’re tired of trying to keep up with the mountains of homework your child brings home every day.

There’s also a great article on DNA Info with even more tips for parents deciding about G&T programs for their children.

Parents beware! Mistake in NYC G&T handbooks
November 18, 2015, 6:00 pm
Filed under: nnat test, NYC Gifted and Talented Program, OLSAT Test | Tags: ,

It seems like the NYC G&T department made some serious errors in the 115,000 G&T handbooks given out that were translated into nine languages according to the article in AM New York. You’re lucky if you received the handbook in English since there were no errors in the questions and answers for the guides that were handed out. It seems the DOE didn’t bother to have someone take a few minutes of their time to proofread the copies that were in the non-English written materials. It seems that the DOE officials were scrambling to fix the error of their ways by scrambling around to try to correct the screw-up. This caused them to extend the deadline to register for the OLSAT test and NNAT-2 test (free practice questions on Testing Mom) that are the entrance exams required for a 4-year-old to get a seat in a top-notch kindergarten for free.  It seems these types of errors are completely preventable but I suppose no one at the DOE was thoughtful enough to think of the ramifications of not having these important materials proofread by a professional before printing. I will give the DOE credit for the cover of the NYC G&T handbook this year. I think the artwork is very well done. Too bad they didn’t put the same time and energy in making sure the practice questions they provided were up to par.



doe handbook


Push to expand NYC gifted and talented programs

Over the past few years it’s become evident the lack of racial diversity in the NYC gifted and talented programs across the city. The biggest gaps are most evident in lower-income, minority neighborhoods. Not only that, the two boroughs of the Bronx and Staten Island neither have a citywide program within their borough. For the students living in the Bronx of Staten Island and scoring a 99th percentile on the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests doesn’t guarantee a city-wide seat. And if these students do somehow get into a citywide gifted and talented program like NEST or Anderson it would take in some cases almost 2 hours of commute time each way with public transportation. The gifted and talented problem of supply and demand has been evident over the past several years with over 1,900 pre-K kids qualifying for a citywide seat and only 250-300 kindergarten seats being available.

The DOE promises to open more programs across the city, especially in areas that have few district wide gifted and talented programs. The DOE determines what areas get a new gifted program based upon the amount of kids who take the test in that district. Unfortunately, it’s a vicious cycle since many students don’t take the test since the parents don’t know about the test or don’t bother for whatever reason. There are plenty of students in both the Bronx and Staten Island to justify the opening of a new citywide program in each of those boroughs but it’s a tough sell since space is limited and educating local residents about this program.

The NYC G&T program does offer excellent educational opportunities but only for those who are aware of the program. Hopefully outreach to the local communities will make some sort of impact but as with anything that has to do with the DOE it will take years to see change.

Prepare for the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests or not?

I get so many questions from parents as to whether or not they should prepare their talented tot for the NYC gifted and talented test.  I think it’s time for a reality check if you don’t think every other parent is preparing their child for the big test. I know, it’s romantic to think your child can whimsically walk in to the testing center with absolutely no preparation and score in the 99th percentile on the tests.  News flash parents, that’s a fantasy and you want to make sure your child is fully prepared for the tests by not only practicing with free practice questions from Testing Mom but more importantly, you need to be working with your child from separating from you for over an hour and taken away by a complete stranger who administers the gifted and talented tests. So, should you prepare or not prepare?


Start preparing for the NYC gifted and talented test

Well, it’s time to start preparing for the NYC gifted and talented test even though school starts in September. So far, there have been no changes announced by the Dept. of Ed to the testing process and procedures for this upcoming testing season in January-February 2016.   Here are some quick and dirty stats as of the time of this writing:

  • 70,000 seats in standard-track gen-ed kindergarten classrooms; 2,700 seats in G&T programs* (appx. 250 seats are available for Citywide programs – this is for non-siblings).
  • Admission based solely on the test score (for NNAT-2 test and OLSAT test). The NNAT test has 48 questions and the OLSAT has 30 non-verbal questions. Each test accounts for 50% of the child’s overall score. The two tests are administered at the same time with the NNAT non-verbal first then the OLSAT verbal section.
  • In Jan.-Feb. 2015 almost 38,000 students from pre-K to 2nd grade took the NYC gifted and talented test.
  • Pre-K students do not need to fill in bubble sheet – only point to the correct answer.
  • Kindergarten to 2nd grade take test at school if in public school. No testing in 3rd to 5th grade.
  • Once in gifted program, no re-testing necessary each year through 5th grade. Middle school is entirely different story.
  • If your pre-K child is testing for the G&T continue with your registration for general ed. kindergarten at your local public school. Do the two processes concurrently.
  • Important note: G&T curriculum varies from program to program – even at the district level. There is no standard G&T curriculum in NYC so make sure you check with other parents who have kids in the program to get as much information as you can about their curriculum and how it varies (if at all) compared to the general ed classrooms. Some vary,  some don’t so do your homework!

If you’re looking for more in-depth guide on the New York City Gifted and Talented Program there’s a well written guide from the folks at Testing Mom for only five dollars. The best deal around.

NYC Survival Guide cover

NYC Gifted and Talented Admissions for 4th and 5th grades

The Dept. of Ed. just announced the new criteria for NYC Gifted and Talented admissions for 4th and 5th grades for the 2015-16 school year. Don’t worry, there’s no OLSAT test or NNAT-2 test involved but make sure your child is adored by his or her teacher, that’s for sure! According to the DOE here’s the “new and improved” criteria they will be using if you want your child to enter a G&T program going into 4th or 5th grades.

  • 2015 New York State English Language Arts (ELA) and Math scores
  • 2015 Report Card Grades
  • Descriptors of Exceptional Characteristics provided by the student’s teacher

The deadline to apply is on May 22, 2015 and here are the locations for all 5 boroughs to submit your application. Guess what? You get to leave work early since you can’t do this online or by mail. Did I just have a flashback to 1972? All requests must be made in person and the Family Welcome Center facilities are only open 8am to 3pm. So much for being so welcoming and for those parents who don’t have any flexibility at their jobs to cut-out early. Just tell your boss that you want your child to have a better life (and job!) than you and you must leave early! I’m sure the “boss man” will completely understand…yeah, right.

The Dept. of Ed. does provide specific guidance for the criteria but it does allow some opinions and biases being inserted by the teacher to determine if the child is worthy of getting a coveted seat into the NYC G&T program or not. Here are a few hypothetical situations that could occur to the detriment of the child:

  • The teacher and parent(s) don’t get along and the only recourse the teacher has to get back at the parents is to not give a child a recommendation. What if the parents are hardcore Republicans who support Ted Cruz for president and don’t believe in teacher unions. Oh yeah, those parents would be homeschooling anyway.
  • The teacher and principal collude because the child scores 4’s on both the ELA and math test and they want to keep their school test scores high, therefore don’t recommend the child attend a G&T program. Remember, schools in NYC are ranked on how children perform on the not-so-popular common core ELA and math tests.
  • The teacher and parents are good friends outside school and the parents use that friendship to manipulate the teacher in writing exaggerated claims about their child’s abilities. Highly unlikely, I know…but these are hypothetical situations! :-)

Of course, the list of hypothetical situations could go on and on. So fun to think about all the possibilities and the lengths some parents in New York City would go to for their talented tot to get into the gifted and talented program.

I do find it interesting the DOE announced the criteria included state test scores were being used a week after the state tests were completed. I’m sure if parents knew up front that this was part of the criteria process parents across all five boroughs would be heading over in droves to Testing Mom to get free practice questions for the New York ELA and math tests.

NYC gifted and talented test scores
The NYC gifted and talented test scores have been released for kids going into kindergarten this fall (2015). So many parents are estactic that their talented tot made the cut and now hopes are even higher to get a coveted spot at one of the citywide or district wide gifted programs sprinkled throughout the city. There’s always a sour apple in the bunch and here’s an email that Testing Mom online test prep received from a parent who is really upset about her son’s score (even at the 95th percentile). Here’s what she told Testing Mom:

Hi Testing Mom,

My 4-year-old son stands no chance of getting accepted into one the gifted and talented citywide kindergarten programs since he scored in the 95th percentile. I thought he’d score in the 99th (I’ve been told by numerous people how smart he is), but I suppose he just isn’t as smart as everyone thought. I’m very disappointed in him because he said the test was easy after he came out of the testing room…although I now blame myself and feel like a horrible mother because I didn’t sign-up for your program until after I received his scores so we can start practicing for next year’s test. I heard about you from several parents last fall and their kids made 98th and 99th percentiles but I thought I could do it on my own without any outside help…boy, was I wrong. He did so well on the 10 questions provided in the handbook from the Dept. of Ed. but they probably only put easy questions in their handbook so parents don’t feel they need to prepare. Even after using your program for just the past couple of days since I received his scores I have discovered the areas he needs to focus on. If I only knew then what I know now things might have turned out very different.

My stomach turns every time I look at his score on the test and I’m trying not to hold a grudge against him – after all, he is only 4-years-old. I know some parents would be so happy with a 95th percentile, but now I wish he would have bombed the whole test instead of being on the cusp.

M.L. – mom in Flushing Queens – NYC

Wow, this mom is what I’d call hardcore but I suppose it’s a typical response from some parents in New York City when the harsh reality sinks in. I hope this mom doesn’t give up on her son and it sounds like she’s wanting him to take the test again. I’m sure he’ll do better next year and hopefully score in the 99th percentile so his mother once again will be proud to have him as her offspring.


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