Nearly one-third of the 14,600 rising kindergartners who sat for Gifted & Talented assessments in January and February found out today that they qualified for one of the city's district or citywide G&T programs. That's  about six percent fewer than qualified in 2013, according to Department of Education data released Friday afternoon. The number of children who scored in the 99th percentile--the score usually necessary for a chance at entry into one of the five coveted citywide G&T--programs also fell, from more than 1,450 last year to about 950 this year.

Even with the lower number of qualifiers, there are still three times as many top-scoring tykes than there are seats in the five most selective citywide programs which have only about 300 seats for incoming kindergartners. Further decreasing the odds of entry, qualifying siblings of current students get first dibs at those seats.

The gap in student performance between richest and poorest districts remains wide but there were gains in Harlem and Washington Heights. In Districts 4 (East Harlem), 5 (Harlem) and 6 (Washington Heights and Inwood) nearly twice as many students scored in the top percentile than did last year.

Parents were notified of their child's score today along with an application listing their progam options. Families who do not get their results by Monday, April 7, should call the DOE at 718-935-2009. Families have until April 21 to apply one of the gifted programs, but since schools are closed for spring vacation from April 14-22, parents have only next week to visit schools.  A list of open houses is posted on the DOE's website here. Letters of acceptance for regular, non-gifted, kindergarten programs will be sent during the spring break. G&T applicants won't find out until May 26 if they have been offered a spot.

Last year thousands more applicants qualified than were seats available, especially after it was discovered that the testing company, Pearson, had botched the scoring twice, and scores rose for hundreds of test-takers. This year the DOE said it worked with Pearson to make sure that additional safeguards were in place to administer and score the assessments and to review scoring process. In addition, the DOE weighted the G&T test differently, giving equal weight to the Naglieri non-verbal test and the OLSAT verbal exam this year, as opposed to last year when the Naglieri score counted for 65 percent of the overall score.

"Last year the DOE added the Naglieri non-verbal exam with the belief that it was a harder test to prep for and it was a good measure of kid's non-verbal ability," said schools consultant Robin Aronow.  "But kids ended scoring higher on that measure than they anticipated. Now it's worth 50 percent so that tended to bring down the G&T scores."

This year a total of 37,999 children entering grades K-3 sat for the nationally-normed exams. More than one-quarter of them--26 percent--were eligible for either a district or a citywide program. That's compared to the 36,369 students who tested last year, when 32.7 percent qualified. Children who scored at or above the 90th percentile are eligible for a district G&T program. While the citywide programs are extremely popular, some of the district G&T programs have trouble filling their seats.

The Naglieri non-verbal exam in 2013 was meant to increase the number of low-income children who qualify for G&T programs, but three perennially struggling districts had very few or no qualifiers: District 7 in the South Bronx, District 23 in East New York and District 32 in Bushwick.

Once again the highest number of kindergartners eligible for either a district or citywide program came from Manhattan's District 2 with 412 children, followed by District 3 on the Upper West Side with 211. Brooklyn's District 22 in Ditmas Park had 164, District 20, which includes Bay Ridge, had 136, and District 15 which includes Park Slope had 115.  More than 200 students District 2 scored in the 99th percentile, compared to no top-scorers in five of the six Bronx districts. 

Children entering kindergarten to 3rd grade may test for a gifted program, although there are very few open seats in the upper grades. 

On Monday, April 7, parents of children in citywide gifted schools are hosting a forum in Manhattan for families whose children are eligible for those schools. Robin Aronow will moderate the panel of G&T parents; the principal of the Queens G&T school will speak and a representative from the DOE's enrollment office will be on hand to answer questions. For more information, see our calendar.

Breakdown of G&T scores by grade and eligibility: 2014-2015_GT_Eligibility_by_Grade_Summary.pdf [PDF]

Breakdown of G&T scores by district: 2014-2015_GT_Summary_Grade_District_Eligibility.pdf

Breakdown of kids scoring in 99th percentile 2014-2015_GT_Summary_99th_PR_Compared_to_2013_by_Grade.pdf[PDF]