Gifted and talented results letters were sent to families last week, and since then our inbox has been full of G&T queries from parents of prospective kindergartners who must apply by April 20. Here are four questions that we answered.
- My 4-year-old is a smart guy. His teacher says he is ahead of the other kids in his pre-kindergarten class, but he got a really low score on the G&T test. He took it on a very cold day and he is rather shy. Can he retake the test? .
The short answer: not this year. There are no re-dos. If your child was ill on the test date, or if there was a problem with the administration of the exam, you had 48 hours to report the problem. He can test again next year when he is in kindergarten. Note, next year it will be it will be a different test mix. The OLSAT will be kept but the Bracken will be replaced by the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test [NNAT].
The factors that you say may have contributed to his low score are exactly the reasons that make many people question whether testing is even appropriate for 4-year-olds. After all, they are still very young children in uneven stages of development and subject to moods, outside factors (cold, humidity) that can divert their attention from the questions put to them by a stranger. Or they can be energetic and restless after sitting for a long time. Or they can be curious and more interested in the necklace the tester is wearing than the question. Nevertheless, many kids who do not excel at test-taking are eager learners and it is a teacher's job to find the key to the concentration and focus they will need to go through school.
That's why I think that if a teacher is able to tailor lessons and projects to individual kids, all of the kids will benefit. There are some advantages to your local school, especially for a shy child who will benefit from the confidence of being among the top kids in the class. By staying in the neighborhood, you can keep in touch with the school, be an active member of the Parents Association and make neighborhood friends -- often lifelong friends as you go through the grades and beyond with your son.
- My child scored a 97 on the exam. What are her chances of getting into one of the citywide program?
There are so many children -- more than 2500 -- who qualified for the citywide programs, that I think your chances are very slim if your son is not a 99-percenter or a sibling of a current student. Then there are fewer than 400 seats available in citywide programs. After siblings are placed, the selection process is randomized by score. And most of the five schools have space for only the top scorers.
Citywide programs often involve travel, via yellow bus, or public transportation if you are coming from a different borough. Some programs are very rigorous, with homework right off the bat. A long commute plus lots of work may make for a cranky child. You know your own kid and what she is capable of. She might be happier closer to home anyway.
If you want to learn more about citywide gifted programs - and, possibly, your odds of admissions, you may attend a meeting tonight (April 17) of the Parents Alliance for Citywide Education (PACE), moderated by school consultant Robin Aronow.
- My daughter scored a 99. If we don't do anything this year or if we apply and decide not to go to the school that accepted us, can we reapply again next year or the year after that? How does that work? Will it jeopardize our chances for future years if we decline? And what about high school? I'm hoping that's a whole new testing scenario-so even if we decide to do nothing now, can we reapply for G&T in high school?
If you decide not to put your daughter into a G&T kindergarten next fall, she will need to re-test next year for 1st grade. She can also test again for 2nd grade. There is no "deferring." The fact that she takes the test again will not hurt her chances of acceptance per se, however there will be very few slots in the citywide programs.
If you really like one of the citywides and she gets in, your best bet is to grab the spot now. That seat probably won't be open next year.
As to district programs. your daughter is guaranteed a seat in a district program if she scores at or above the 90th percentile AND if she lists all available district programs. So, if you only apply to one program in your district there will be no guarantee of acceptance. Of course the higher the score, the better the chance of admittance.
Don't worry about high school yet! That's a completely different scenario. And first comes middle school, with its own admissions criteria. (of course a few of the citywide programs go through 8th grade and one through 12th.)
- My child qualified for a G&T program.We are zoned for a very good elementary school just down the block from us and he has already been accepted. The schools with the G&T programs in our district don't seem as strong over-all and are not as close to home. Is it worth sending him to one of those?
You are the best person to answer that question! There are many benefits to attending a good neighborhood school, as I outlined above: Playmates closer to home, the ease of becoming involved in the PTA, and even being able to walk to school are huge plusses.
My advice? Check out the other programs if you have not done so already. You still have a few days and most schools are hosting tours or open houses. Of course you may not see classes in action because children in grades 3-8 are taking state reading exams this week and schools don't want to disrupt that process. Still, you will get a sense of the school's environment and see the calibre of work posted on the walls. If you are impressed, go ahead and list the programs you like on your application. If you know you won't send your child to a particular school, don't list it.
You may find that your very fine school just down the block is the best fit for your family!
Good luck to all.