New York City’s Department of Education (DOE) opened Request for Gifted and Talented Testing forms on Tuesday, October 3, 2017. Children who will be entering Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd or 3rd grade in September of 2018 may apply. (After that, no one in NYC is presumably either gifted and/or talented.)
It does not tell parents everything they need to know about the process and programs.
Here are five items that – either deliberately or due to incompetence – they’ve left out:
The Date Your Child Takes the Test Matters
The DOE tells parents to sign their children up to be tested at whatever date and time works best for them, within the established parameters. This year, testing will be offered for nonpublic school students the weekends of January 6-7, 13-14, and 20-21. (Yes, for those parents also applying to Hunter College Elementary, that means there will be an overlap with Second Round.) What they don’t tell you is that your child’s score will be calculated based on pre-set age bands, not his or her raw score, and that choosing the wrong date can mean the difference between meeting the cut-off, and being shut out. Use this calculator to help you determine your child’s optimal test date.
Test Prep Is Rampant
The DOE tells parents all they need to do to prepare their children is to review the handful of practice questions available in the G&T booklet. What they don’t tell them is that there are literally dozens of test prep centers, private tutors, online resources and workbooks available to give kids a leg up. Is everyone getting prepped for G&T testing? No. Are enough kids getting prepped that, in some neighborhoods, over 50% of the children are scoring in the top 10th percentile? Yes. And the prep doesn’t stop after admission, either.
Majority of Kids Who Qualify For G&T Don’t Get a Seat
Receiving a qualifying score on the G&T exam does not guarantee your child a seat. In theory, testing above the 97th percentile makes a child eligible for a Citywide Accelerated school. In practice, last year 792 children scored in the 99th percentile alone, while there are only a total of 300 seats available. In theory, testing above the 90th percentile makes a child eligible for a District Enriched program. In practice, last year over 4,000 children qualified for a total of about 2,000 seats. No one, whatever their score, is entitled to a seat in a G&T program in NYC. Final results are decided by lottery. I tell parents not to worry if their children are smart. All children are smart (and IQ tests administered before the age of 10 are meaningless, anyway). Worry if your children are lucky.
There Is No Gifted & Talented Curriculum
Parents assume that a G&T program will have its own specially-designed curriculum to meet the needs of accelerated learners. It does not. For Citywide programs, the standard NYC public school curriculum is simply taught a year in advance, so that kindergarteners are doing 1st grade work, 1st graders are doing 2nd grade work, etc.. For district G&T’s, the curriculum is “enriched.” That means teachers, at their discretion, have more freedom to add enhancements to the standard curriculum. This is where teacher quality becomes vital. In addition, what the U.S. calls “gifted education” would be considered standard for all… and a few years behind… in Europe and Asia. As just one example, in other parts of the world, all children start learning algebra in 4th grade. In the U.S., the “gifted” kids get it in… 7th.
You Don’t Need a G&T Label To Get a G&T Education
In District 8 in the Bronx, the Superintendent has decided to bring a G&T approach to all classrooms, including more hands-on learning and enriching field trips. Test scores have gone up as a result. (Click here to see which general ed and charter schools are outscoring G&T programs, and even some accelerated citywide schools!)
Gifted and Talented registration is scheduled to close on November 13, 2017, though, in past years, the DOE has often extended their own arbitrary deadlines. For free prep tips, click here. And help spread the word!
Every year the DOE laments the low numbers of minority and low-income students who qualify for G&T programs. The best way to change that is to make sure all parents know all the secrets to getting in – including (especially) those the DOE doesn’t want you to know!