Harder Gifted and Talented Tests Netted Fewer Kids With Top Score

By Julie Shapiro on April 8, 2013 3:48pm | Updated on April 8, 2013 4:59pm

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Billy Figueroa

NEW YORK — The results are in, and thousands of children have qualified in the city's elite gifted and talented programs — but fewer kids netted a top score this year, Department of Education figures show.

Families began finding out over the weekend how their 4-year-olds performed on the new, harder standardized gifted tests, after months of preparation and anxiety.

Fewer preschoolers achieved a top 99th percentile score on the test this year — nearly 7 percent of 4-year-olds got the highest possible score this year, compared to about 11 percent of preschoolers in 2012, according to the Department of Education.

"We're not surprised there was a much lower percentage of 99s this year," said Michael McCurdy, co-founder of, a test preparation website.

This year's gifted admissions test was comprised of the new Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test, which quizzes kids on their spatial reasoning skills, and the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test, which had been used in previous years, as well and examines kids' logic skills.

Parents panicked about the Naglieri test because it requires kids to identify and complete complex visual patterns that are difficult even for adults. Test preparation companies saw high demand for classes and materials explaining the NNAT.

In the past, the top citywide gifted programs, like The Anderson School on the Upper West Side, filled their kindergarten class almost entirely with kids who scored in the 99th percentile — but this year parents are hopeful that there will be more room for kids in the 97th and 98th percentiles.

"There seems to be more hope for those parents," McCurdy said.

In all, 36,012 kids going into kindergarten through third grade applied for gifted and talented programs this year, and about 16 percent of them scored between the 90th and 96th percentile, qualifying them for a gifted program in their local district.

An additional 9 percent of kids scored in the 97th through 99th percentile, qualifying them for the more selective citywide gifted programs, according to the Department of Education.