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Astoria Parents Vying for P.S. 122's Coveted G&T Irked by Scoring Error

 Parents looking to land their child a spot in the coveted gifted program at Astoria's P.S. 122 were thrown for a loop by the recent scoring error.
Parents looking to land their child a spot in the coveted gifted program at Astoria's P.S. 122 were thrown for a loop by the recent scoring error.
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DNAinfo/Jeanmarie Evelly

DITMARS — When Anastasia Cunningham found out earlier this month that both of her children had qualified for Gifted and Talented classes, she was cautiously optimistic. 

Though she knew it was a long shot, she thought she stood a small chance to land them seats in the coveted gifted program at Astoria's P.S. 122, where her son Alex is now in a second grade general education class and her daughter, Sofia, goes to pre-K.

"We were very excited they both tested in. They both made it," she said, adding that Alex's teacher had told her that he's outperforming most of his peers this year. "He's certainly not suffering, but he's bored."

A few weeks later, though, Cunningham's excitement turned to anxiety after she learned of a scoring error by Pearson, the company that marked the high-stakes tests, making Alex's competition even stiffer.

The DOE said last week that nearly 2,700 students who originally didn’t qualify were now eligible for district gifted programs, and more than 2,000 who were told they qualified for district programs were now also eligible for the more selective five elite citywide programs.

"There are now almost 5,000 more students vying for the same number of spots," Cunningham said. "It's kind of lousy to have a carrot dangled in your face, and then have it taken away."

Parents in Queens District 30 — where there are two other G&T programs, one at Sunnyside's P.S. 150 and another at Astoria's P.S. 166 — have been calling for the creation of more gifted seats to keep up with a growing population and a rise in the number of children who qualify.

Despite a new and harder test, even more students in the district had qualified this year compared to last, with 452 of those who took the test scoring above the required 90th percentile — a number that will increase even more once the corrected test scores are tallied.

The DOE said parents should expect to receive their updated scores by April 29, and the G&T application deadline was extended to May 10 because of the error.

"It's frustrating," said Kristina Kirtley, who was originally told her 4-year-old daughter, Melia, scored below the eligibility requirement, only to find last week that she'd actually made the cut.

"Now we have to kind of scramble and see if we should visit all these schools, even though her chances of getting a seat are low," Kirtley added. "It's almost like this is an academic exercise that isn’t going to mean anything."

Rachel Paster's son Nicholas, a first grader in the general education class at P.S. 122, was also scored incorrectly. He was initially told he was just shy of the qualifying 90th percentile only to find out later that he'd scored above it, Paster said.

She said she finds the scoring error ironic, to say the least.

"I thought it was really quite shocking," she said. "The fact that it's a math error was really  unbelievable to me."