NYC Gifted and Talented Program and Testing


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.



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.



Tips on preparing your child for the NYC Gifted and Talented test
May 29, 2018, 3:40 pm
Filed under: tests | Tags: ,

Ready to prep? Here are some test prep tips for the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests!

The purpose of preparing your child for the NYC G&T test to give you a general idea of your child’s strengths and weaknesses with respect to the different types of questions that will be asked on the actual tests. Here are a few tips to take into consideration while your prepare.

  • Seat your child comfortably at a desk where he can work. The room should be well lit. Make sure he isn’t hungry, tired, or missing out on his favorite TV show.  Don’t describe what you’re doing as a test or assessment.  Just refer to these as “brain games” where you’ll get to do some fun, practice school activities.
  • BEFORE YOU BEGIN TO PRACTICE QUESTIONS: Sign-up for free practice questions from the TestingMom.com website.   Go through this entire instrument without telling your child whether his answers are correct. This instrument is for your benefit only – first, to show you where your child needs help and then to show you the progress he has made.
  • Give your child a break between different sets of questions if that is needed. Remember, with the Pre-Assessment your goal is to find out which types of activities your child does well and which present a challenge for him.  Once you understand his strengths and weaknesses, you can work on the areas that are hard for him.  The actual OLSAT test has 30 questions and the NNAT-2 has 48 questions for a total of 78 questions.  The Assessments have 45 – 60 questions each.   Don’t get frustrated if you need extra time to get through all the material, especially when doing the Pre-Assessment (before your child has built up any “test stamina”).
  • Based on how your child does, you will know which types of questions to focus your efforts on when preparing. Work with your child over a period of time using the practice questions and games on the TestingMom.com website.
  • For the Assessments, whether your child is applying to kindergarten or 1st grade, he should attempt to answer the first 15 questions in each section. If your child is applying to 2nd or 3rd grade, he should attempt to answer all 20 questions in each section.  [Questions generally go from easy to harder.]
  • between the 1st and 2nd set of scores will vary depending on how much practice you have done with your child and how well she has mastered the concepts.
  • Your goal is to see significant improvement between the two sets of scores your child earns doing the Pre-Assessment (without preparation)…and the Post-Assessment (with preparation).


Gifted and talented test results 2018 vs. 2017
April 25, 2018, 1:52 pm
Filed under: NYC Gifted and Talented Program | Tags: ,

The results are in for the NYC gifted and talented testing for children taking the test in January 2018!

The test scores seem to be consistent year over year when comparing 2018 vs. 2017 data.

Here are the results from this testing from January 2018

  2018 Test Results for OLSAT and NNAT2 Tests
Entering Grade Tested Ineligible District
Eligible Only
% District Eligible
Only
Citywide Eligible %
Citywide Eligible
Total 32,516 23,482 5,912 18% 3,122 10%
Kindergarten 14,450 10,791 2,100 15% 1,559 11%
First grade 7,866 5,544 1,572 20% 750 10%
Second Grade 5,587 4,019 1,183 21% 385 7%
Third Grade 4,613 3,128 1,057 23% 428 9%

 

 

Here are results from last year’s testing in January 2017

 

2017 Test Results for OLSAT and NNAT2 Tests
Entering Grade Tested Ineligible District Eligible
Only
% District
Eligible Only
Citywide Eligible %
Citywide Eligible
Total 34,902 24,905 7,014 20% 2,983 9%
Kindergarten 16,582 12,115 2,858 17% 1,609 10%
First Grade 7,714 5,505 1,618 21% 591 8%
Second Grade 5,714 3,870 1,469 26% 375 7%
Third Grade 4,892 3,415 1,069 22% 408 8%

Source: NYC Dept of Ed.



Preparing for the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests
February 15, 2018, 3:26 pm
Filed under: tests | Tags: , ,

Taking any test can be tough, especially if you’re 4 years old

First, the bad news. Preparing a young child for the NYC Gifted and Talented Test takes works, lots of work! And if you want your child to get admitted to a citywide or district gifted program, your child must receive a qualifying score. There are many pitfalls and obstacles that can stand in the way of your child getting a top score on the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests:

  • Being unfamiliar with the types of questions on the test
  • Test anxiety and not being able sit still for an hour with a stranger
  • Leaving preparing your child for the test to the last minute
  • Not preparing at all
  • Not knowing basic test taking skills like process of elimination and guessing

One of things most parents experience is test anxiety even though they aren’t the ones taking the test! You want to make sure you don’t transfer your anxiety onto your child. You want to make sure your child is prepared and that will help eliminate the anxiety for both you and your child.

Here are a few tips to help eliminate test anxiety:

  • Teach your child to breathe slowly during test and stretch if they need to.
  • Tell your child it’s ok to ask the test proctor (teacher) to take a break to use the restroom during the test.
  • Make sure you visit the testing facility PRIOR to test day so your child is familiar with the school and you can tell your child you’ll be returning to speak to a teacher “who wants to know everything a 4 year old knows!”

Once you’re in the final stretch with test day is within 30 days make sure you make a 30-day plan to really get your child prepared for the test.

  • Do a mock exam from sites like TestingMom.com where you can get a good gauge of where your child is at in knowing the concepts on the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests
  • Do not change your child’s schedule and make sure you keep a solid routine with diet, bedtime and anything to keep the schedule normal. Now is not the time to go on vacation, change your child’s diet (unless it’s unhealthy) or change bedtime or wake time in the morning.


Huge mistake parents make
February 2, 2018, 3:19 pm
Filed under: NYC Gifted and Talented Program | Tags: ,

Not planning to prep for the OLSAT or NNAT? Huge mistake.

Everyone makes mistakes, right? It’s a big part of what makes us human and being parents. If we were all perfect, life would be a lot more boring (but also a lot easier!).

Unfortunately, as parents, the mistakes we make in raising our children can affect our kids’ quality of life for years to come.  So many parents have told me about the devastating effects of technology.  These are typically parents who let their kids fritter away watching Disney TV non-stop, and playing mindless video games, without so much as glancing at skill-building materials that help keep them fresh on the subjects they learn in school.

Another common story I hear is from parents who failed to adequately prepare their children for the NYC Gifted and Talented or private school entrance exam. Many parents assume that these tests will be super easy and includes simple questions, especially if their children are only 4 or 5 years old. Boy, are these parents wrong; dead wrong. I can’t tell you how many parents have told me after the fact to tell me something along the lines of, “I just assumed the test would cover basic colors and shapes. That’s why it didn’t even occur to me to prepare for the test ahead of time.” Unfortunately, these parents didn’t find programs like Testing Mom before the big test. Many other parents, knowing that their child is extremely bright or possibly even gifted, are confident that they’ll do fine on the test no matter how hard it is. This is yet another big mistake I see time and time again. What these parents don’t realize is that there are a limited amount of seats in NYC for the gifted program and even missing a few questions on the test can cause their child to not qualify for a program when all the other kids score higher. For parents who don’t take preparation seriously, it can be a devastating blow when they get the OLSAT and NNAT-2 test scores back and find out that their child scored well below the level they would need to make it into an advanced program.

Perhaps the most common mistake I see from parents – and one that can actually be the most devastating – isn’t so much a mistake as it is an attitude toward testing and education in general. Many parents have a negative connotation of preparation and of the process that lets their children get into gifted and talented programs. The vast majority of the time, these parents’ attitudes are understandable and many times even commendable. Basically, these parents want to leave their child’s education to “chance” and hope for the best. Typically, these parents are worried that by preparing their kids for a test, they’ll be “taking away their childhood” or even considered “cheating,” since these parents think the test is designed to measure children on an even playing field. What I tell these parents is that, regardless of their personal view on testing and education, testing is here to stay – and so is test prep. Countless other parents across the city are making sure that their children are ready for test day and beyond, by working with their child on a daily basis to make sure they have the skills they need to not only keep up, but soar ahead of their classmates.

Let’s face it, it’s up to YOU to make sure these scenarios don’t play out for your son or daughter. I’m telling you this because I don’t want you to make the same mistakes other parents before you have made. Only you have the power to make sure your child is afforded every opportunity for a stellar education – but you have to put in the effort, and you have to start now. Learn from the mistakes of those parents who have gone before you who didn’t prepare their child for the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests.  If not you, then who? If not now, then when?



Debunking myths of the NYC Gifted and Talented Program

Well folks, the DOE is debunking all the rumors and innuendos floating around the city about the NYC Gifted and Talented Program. We’re here to set the record straight by debunking myths of the NYC Gifted and Talented Program.

  • There are two type of G&T programs in NYC. TRUE!
    • District G&T programs give an admissions priority to applicants who live in their district. These programs are located within district elementary schools. Citywide G&T programs give no admissions priority based on district of residence and all students in these schools attend the G&T program.
  • Students must take both the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests to participate in the NYC gifted program. TRUE!
    • If your child attends public kindergarten through second grade, they will take the G&T Test at school during the school day. If your child attends pre-K or non-public school, they can take the G&T Test on one of several weekend dates. Submit the RFT online and early for the best chance to get your preferred test date and location.
  • Students must score a 90th percentile combined score on the NNAT-2 test and OLSAT test to get a G&T application. TRUE!
    • A student who scores 90 or higher can apply for District G&T programs. A student who scores 97 or higher can apply for District and Citywide G&T programs. Make sure you check out free practice questions from programs like Testing Mom! 
  • There is NO guarantee that a student will get a G&T offer letter, regardless of their score. TRUE!
    • G&T programs are so high in demand and usually there are more eligible students than there are seats available. Even at a 99th percentile there are no guarantees.
  • G&T programs give an admissions priority to students with siblings currently enrolled in their programs. TRUE!
    • If your child applies to a G&T program at a school that their sibling attends, they have greater priority to attend that program than applicants without siblings at the school.
  • Only current pre-K through second grade students can participate in the admissions process for the Gifted and Talented Program TRUE!

 



Fostering high-order thinking for the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests
November 30, 2017, 6:07 pm
Filed under: tests | Tags: , ,

High-order thinking needed for the NYC Gifted and Talented Test

The definition of cognition states that it is “the mental faculty or process by which knowledge is acquired.”  When a child combines aspects of cognitive skills to evaluate what he sees, hears, and reads, and then makes decisions, reaches conclusions, or solves problems based on analysis of information, he is using “higher-order thinking.”  Kids naturally use these skills, often getting it wrong, but only because they are just beginning to understand the laws and rules governing the world.  For example, they might surmise that since you grew tomatoes from seeds, why couldn’t you plant a steak bone and grow a cow?

This “higher-order thinking” was explained and is still relevant today by Russian author Korney Chukovsky in his 1928 book, From Two to Five.  He demonstrated through observations that children’s higher-order thinking process takes shape in this way:

  • Observing and asking questions – watching and listening begins their exploration.
  • Sorting, classifying, and comparing for conceptual thinking – children then sort the information that has been gathered into groups and classifications.
  • Reasoning – they now start to make sense of concepts or form opinions. (I always liked the story of the little boy who witnessed his grandma remove her dentures who said, “Wow, now take out your eyes, Granny!”.….out of the mouths [and minds] of babes!)
  • Hypothesizing – they can now use reasoning skills to predict what might happen next.
  • Problem Solving – children will eventually realize with experience that situations can be changed. And, using creative thinking, they can generate ideas, look for alternatives and try to see beyond the obvious to solve a problem (cheers to Thomas Edison!)
  • Critical Thinking – the child will now consider different sides of an issue or a possible solution, while weighing the pros and cons and forming an opinion.
  • Decision Making – after examining and evaluating all sides of an issue or the options on the table, he makes the best choice he can.

And, it’s been proven that children who grow up using higher-order thinking become more creative, flexible and persistent because they know how to generate, critique and choose from an assortment of ideas and don’t become flustered when they hit a dead end, because they know how to seek out alternatives.

As a parent, you can foster your child’s higher-order thinking skills by doing the following as you prepare for the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests for entry into the NYC Gifted and Talented Program:

  • Promote questions: Yes, I said it….keep the barrage of questions coming, no matter how painful they may be!  And, offer up answers that will encourage his desire to explore deeper, engage in conversation on the topic and expand the discussion.
  • Don’t Solve Problems for your child: If you solve your child’s problem for him, you’re taking away an opportunity for her to use her own problem-solving skills.  Plus, if a child is constantly directed on how to do things, she will look to you for the answers rather than try for herself.
  • Encourage experimentation: Teach your child that there is rarely one correct way to solve a problem and praise and applaud her even if it doesn’t work.
  • Teach adaptability: If, after using problem-solving, your child’s decision didn’t work, simply show your child that you can go back, reevaluate and try something else.  This ability to roll with change is critical to succeeding in our dynamic, ever-changing world.
  • Let go of control: This is the hard one, but it’s known that parents who constantly exert control over their children squash their creative spirits. So, next time there’s a mud pie bake off, BACK OFF and let the baking begin, because this is where your child gets to experiment, explore, think and try out her ideas.  The value of play is the play itself, not what is produced, although a Fruit Loop mud pie is enticing!


Common OLSAT test mistakes
August 30, 2017, 11:13 am
Filed under: tests | Tags: ,

Here are 5 other common mistakes young children make when taking the OLSAT test

These mistakes cost children dearly in terms of points deducted from their score:

  1. They choose the most obvious answer just to get the question over with.
  2. They rush through the test like it’s a race.
  3. They lose their focus.
  4. They don’t listen to the instructions.
  5. They don’t point clearly to answers, or they make bubbling errors.
  • You can fix it.

    • The bad news is that all children make these mistakes when they take tests for the first time, and they continue to make these mistakes for years if they aren’t taught how to avoid them.  The good news is that when you are practicing with your child, you will see your own child making these mistakes and you can gently correct them, and show them how not to make that mistake moving forward. This will help increase their test score dramatically.
  • Common Mistake Guide and Training.

    • When you sign-up as a member of Testing Mom, you will have access to a proprietary guide they prepared for you that illustrates the most common mistakes kids make on the OLSAT, along with instructions to you on how to correct each type of mistake that your child will make during practice for the test.

Here’s a fun video with an OLSAT question to ask your little one:

Once you’re alert to these common mistakes and you see your child make one during practice (and you will), just gently correct them (Training available on Testing Mom guides you in what to do).  Doing this will greatly improve your child’s OLSAT score, and it will take no extra study time!



OLSAT test scores
August 21, 2017, 2:06 pm
Filed under: tests | Tags: , ,

Why does a child take a test like the OLSAT and score poorly?

When a child doesn’t score well on the OLSAT test a mom or dad often thinks, “Well, I guess he just didn’t know the material or prep enough,” or “I suppose she lacks in the skills they were testing!”

They couldn’t be more wrong. 

On tests like these, only half of your child’s score depends on her knowing the material or having the skills that are being tested.  The other half of the score depends on your child having good test-taking skills. 

Let me show you what I mean using a practice OLSAT Aural Reasoning question at about the kindergarten grade level.  [Read the question just once and see if you can answer it before you continue reading about it.]

Ask your child: Look at the shapes below. Circle means “strawberry.” Square means “chocolate.” Triangle means “butterscotch.” Choose the box that says “chocolate, chocolate, butterscotch.” *

To answer this OLSAT practice question, you first need to:

  1. Understand what you’re being asked to do.

    First your child has to understand what’s she’s even being asked here.  You’re being asked a question.  Each box represents a possible answer choice – 3 are wrong and only 1 is right.  You’re looking for the one that is right (not the one with the shapes she likes best).  When practicing with your child, teach her to understand the concept of a test question.

  2. Listen to the question.

    1. With OLSAT Verbal questions, your child has to listen to what is being asked.  The question can only be read once.  If he zones out and misses even one or two words in the question, he will have to guess at an answer.
  3. Consider all answer choices. 

    Your child has to take the time and have the focusing skills to analyze the answer choices.  Which one was chocolate? Was that the square or the circle? Your child might remember chocolate was the square and jump at the first square she sees – in the first box (wrong!).  When preparing your child, make sure they look at and consider every answer choice.

  4. How to make a smart guess.

    When a child can’t figure out a question, they often skip it (getting 0 points – bad idea!).  Or they’ll guess between all 4 choices (and likely guess wrong!).  In this case, two shapes have to be the same (“chocolate, chocolate”) and one has to be different (“butterscotch”).  We can immediately eliminate the 3rd and 4th choices because neither has two shapes the same and one different.  So if your child has to choose, choose between the 1st and 2nd   He’ll have a better chance of guessing right.  Teach him how to do this.

*By the way, the answer to the OLSAT sample question above is 2 – chocolate (square), chocolate (square), butterscotch (triangle).

If you think preparing your child is too hard to do it yourself then I always recommend finding a good tutor to help you out. I like the folks over at FasTracKids. They have locations in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island. They can do a G&T assessment to let you know your child’s strengths and weaknesses as it pertains to both the OLSAT and NNAT-2 tests. Tell them I sent you!