NYC Gifted and Talented Program and Testing


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



Gifted and Talented School in Queens Screws up big time!

Well, a district wide gifted and talented school in Queens screws up big time! It all started with parents at the PS 144 in Forest Hills who received a letter from the school that their child will be taking the test that week for the gifted and talented program. The letter informed the parents their child will take the OLSAT tests and BSRA (Bracken School Readiness Assessment). One problem, the DOE phased our the BSRA test 4 years ago and replaced it with the much more difficult NNAT-2 test. Below is a photo of the actual letter parents received from the school that really screwed up on this one.

To add insult to injury, according to parents, who contacted the school about the test, the parent coordinator who answered the phone abruptly said in a curt manner “Whatever is on the letter are the tests that are going to be given!”.  I suppose the school was bombarded with phone  calls from frantic parents who were confused and even more confused after the school verified their worst nightmares coming true! So much for the person who answered the phone to do a 5 second Google search to find out which test is currently being given to students. Maybe they were too busy watching reruns of Dance Moms online?

After months (and some times years!) of test prep will their talented tot now be required to take another test that they haven’t prepared for? Imagine these poor moms and dads who are stressed out to the max and then finding this out the same week the test was to be administered. It’s like a high school student preparing for the SAT test for months and then 48 hours prior to test day being told “Sorry, it’s actually the ACT test.”

After a few days of confusion in Forest Hills the principal, Reva Gluck-Schneider, finally broke down and reluctantly admitted to the error of their ways. This, of course, is after scores of parents kept calling and asking questions. Wow…a DOE employee admitting they were wrong? Is that in the union contract? You can read the entire drama in this DNA Info article.

The letter parents from PS 144 received regarding the upcoming gifted and talented testing.



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.