More Than Half of Kids Tested Qualified for G&T in Two Manhattan Districts

By Jeanmarie Evelly on May 2, 2013 6:57am | Updated on May 2, 2013 6:58am

 A scene at the Anderson School, a citywide gifted and talented program in Manhattan's District 3. More than half of students tested in District 3 this year qualified for G&T, new data shows.
A scene at the Anderson School, a citywide gifted and talented program in Manhattan's District 3. More than half of students tested in District 3 this year qualified for G&T, new data shows.
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Anderson School

NEW YORK CITY — More than half of the children who took the city's gifted and talented exam in two Manhattan school districts this year qualified for spots, according to revised data released by the Department of Education Wednesday. 

Thousands more students across the city qualified for sought-after G&T seats this year than initially thought, thanks to a calculating error by the testing company, Pearson, which graded the exams.

But in Manhattan's District 2 and District 3, the corrected scores revealed particularly high eligibility numbers, with more than 50 percent of test-takers there making the cut — despite this year's new, theoretically more difficult test, which was designed to test kids' true ability by making it harder for them to prepare in advance. 

District 2, which sprawls across Manhattan to include the Upper East Side, TriBeCa, Gramercy, SoHo and the West Village, saw just over 50 percent of its students who took the test qualify for either a district or citywide gifted program, compared to 46 percent last year.

In District 3, which covers the west side of Manhattan between 59th and 122nd Streets, nearly 52 percent of children tested qualified, compared to 47 percent in 2012. 

The two districts also had the highest number of students who received the top score on the test, with 531 kids in District 2 and 251 students in District 3 scoring in the 99th percentile, according to DOE numbers.

The DOE initially said about 9,000 children across the city made the cut for gifted seats this year, but after Pearson fixed the testing mistakes, that number jumped to nearly 12,000 kids, or 32 percent of those tested. In 2012, 24.5 percent of kids tested qualified for G&T.

Parents have begun to question the new numbers, surprised that there could be so many high-scoring children, even as the city supposedly toughened its entrance test this year, replacing one of its previously used tests with the more difficult Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT).

Michael McCurdy, co-founder of the test preparation website TestingMom.com, said he was "shocked" when he saw the corrected test-score numbers and the high number of children who qualified.

"I am familiar with the NNAT, and I just don’t see how this is statistically possible," McCurdy said. "The NNAT is a much more difficult test."

With so many high-scoring students, McCurdy predicts that even those with high scores will be hard-pressed to land a spot in one of their district's gifted programs, which are less competitive than the five elite citywide G&T programs.

"Because of the huge increase [in scores] in the 99th percentile, the kids with the 99th percentiles are going to take up all the district seats and there won't be any left," he said. "You'll be lucky to get a district-wide seat even if you're in the 97th percentile."

There will likely be far more applications than available seats at many gifted programs across the city, McCurdy predicted, and the DOE does not guarantee that all qualifying children receive a spot.

The DOE initially said 1,363 students scored in the 99th percentile this year, but the actual number is 2,572 students, based on the corrected test scores. That's up from 2,144 kids who netted the highest score in 2012.

The DOE has extended its G&T application deadline because of the scoring error, and families now have until May 10 to apply.

"When parents get these results and they don’t get what they want, there is going to be a huge uproar," McCurdy said of the G&T placement offers that will go out later this spring. "Parents should just demand a retest now, while there's still time in the school year."

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