Parents of 4-year-olds who endured a 7-month application process for the city's gifted programs learned early Friday where their child would be placed for kindergarten—just before the beginning of the 3-day Memorial Day weekend.
The only-in-New-York admissions tests always cause stress among thousands of parents vying for 300 kindergarten seats in the five citywide gifted programs—the city's most selective elementary schools. But this year there was particular angst because 1,600 children scored in the 99th percentile—the highest possible score. The city gave preference to siblings of children already in the gifted programs, then used a lottery to assign the top-scoring children to remaining seats at Anderson, NEST,TAG,Brooklyn School of Inquiry and PS 85 in Queens.
Children who scored in the 90th percentile or above—and those who scored higher but did not win the lottery—were assigned to district gifted programs, which are accelerated classes in neighborhood schools. Parents may also choose to send their child to their zoned, neighborhood school—some of which are just as good as the gifted programs.
"Some parents are going to be ectastic and some are going to be disappointed," says Robin Aronow, an educational consultant and head of SchoolsearchNYC. "It's not a process that anyone enjoys," "It's long and drawn out." Parents must register for the tests in October. Children are tested beginning in January. Results of the tests are released in April, and placements are announced at the end of May. No appeals are possible, but parents who want to look at their child's exam and see how they did may contact the DOE at 718-935-2009. (Be prepared for a long wait on hold.)
DOE spokesman Matt Mitenthal said 41% of eligible students received an offer. There were 5,468 offers among 13,508 eligible students. However, not all eligible students applied for gifted programs: 73% of applicants received an offer.
The Department of Education is changing one of the two tests for next year because so many children scored so high this year. It will continue to use the OLSAT (Otis-Lennon School Ability Test) but it will replace the Bracken School Readiness Assessment with the Naglieri Non-Verbal Intelligence Test. Both use pictures rather than words to assess a child's ability, so that a child who speaks a language other than English is not penalized.
"The Bracken was an easy test, and there was lots of test prepping" Aronow said, explaining why so many children scored in the 99th percentile. "Many children scored well on the Bracken because it just required them to identify letters, numbers, colors etc." As for the new test, the race for admissions has already begun. "The name of new test has been released, and parents already have their test prep books ready."